Industrial plating is the process of coating a material with a metal outer layer. Common metals used are gold, nickel, chrome, and copper, but almost any metal can be used. The process of plating a work piece can be done in a number of different ways depending on the metal being used, the preferences of the manufacturer, and the plating supplies available.
Electroplating is the most common method of plating used today. This process involves submerging both the source metal and the metal that needs to be plated in an acidic solution. Electricity is then applied to both of these causing the plating metal to deposit itself on the metal work piece.
In order to perform electroplating the only plating supplies a manufacturer needs are a source of electricity and the appropriate chemical to submerge the metals in. Silver requires cyanide in order to plate another metal while chrome requires a chromic acid solution for electroplating. For large scale manufacturing purposes the metals are placed in a large revolving barrel for even coating.
It takes strong acidic chemicals to break down metals. The level of toxicity of the chemicals required for electroplating makes it difficult to acquire them for home use. Byproducts of this process are also difficult to dispose of as they are equally hazardous. There are other methods of home plating that deal with safer chemicals, and do not require electricity.
Brush plating is another other popular form of plating. It can be done in a variety of settings from homes to factories, but is best for small objects whose plating has worn off in places. The plating supplies needed for this method are a solution, a brush, and a power source. A power source is attached to the object that needs to be plated and the solution is then painted onto the areas that need to be replated. Like large scale electroplating, the electricity distributes the metal evenly on the areas that are covered in the solution.
For home plating uses, brush plating is most effective. Plating supplies can often be purchased over the Internet and at some hardware stores. Brush plating can be done on an industrial level as well, but electroplating is more useful for large scale operations.
Regardless of the amount of plating that a person needs to do, caution should always be taken. Accidents involving electricity and hazardous chemicals such as those common in plating supplies can be disastrous for workers, and lead to poisoning, burns, and even death. With proper safety precautions, this can be avoided and objects can be created of considerable beauty or industrial usefulness depending on what is being manufactured.