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Plating

    There s no such thing as alchemy—magically changing common chemical elements into rare and valuable ones—but water

plating is possibly the next best thing. The idea is to use electricity to coat a relatively mundane metal, such as copper,

with a thin layer of another, more precious metal, such as gold or silver. Water plating has lots of other uses, besides

making cheap metals look expensive. We can use it to make things rust-resistant, for example, to produce a variety of useful

alloys like brass and bronze, and even to make plastic look like metal. How does this amazing process work? Let s take a

closer look!


   



    Plastic water plating involves passing an electric current

through a solution called an electrolyte. This is done by dipping two terminals called electrodes into the electrolyte and

connecting them into a circuit with a battery or other power supply. The electrodes and electrolyte are made from carefully

chosen elements or compounds. When the electricity flows through the circuit they make, the electrolyte splits up and some of

the metal atoms it contains are deposited in a thin layer on top of one of the electrodes—it becomes electroplated. All

kinds of metals can be plated in this way, including gold, silver, tin, zinc, copper, cadmium, chromium, nickel, platinum,

and lead.


    Water plating is very similar to electrolysis (using electricity to split up a chemical solution), which is the reverse

of the process by which batteries produce electric currents. All these things are examples of electrochemistry: chemical

reactions caused by or producing electricity that give scientifically or industrially useful

plastic water plating products.


   



    How does water plating work?


    First, you have to choose the right electrodes and electrolyte by figuring out the chemical reaction or reactions you

want to happen when the electric current is switched on. The metal atoms that plate your object come from out of the

electrolyte, so if you want to copper plate something you need an electrolyte made from a solution of a copper salt, while

for gold plating you need a gold-based electrolyte—and so on.


    Next, you have to ensure the electronic products shell plastic water plating you want to plate is completely clean. Otherwise, when

metal atoms from the electrolyte are deposited onto it, they won t form a good bond and they may simply rub off again.

Generally, cleaning is done by dipping the electrode into a strong acid or alkaline solution or by (briefly) connecting the

Water plating circuit in reverse. If the electrode is really clean, atoms from the two-color material plating bond to it effectively by joining very strongly onto the outside

edges of its crystalline structure.


   



    Now we re ready for the main part of

two-color material twice molding water plating
. We need two electrodes made from different conducting materials, an

electrolyte, and an electricity supply. Generally, one of the electrodes is made from the metal we re trying to plate and the

electrolyte is a solution of a salt of the same metal. So, for example, if we re copper plating some brass, we need a copper

electrode, a brass electrode, and a solution of a copper-based compound such as copper sulfate solution. Metals such as gold

and silver don t easily dissolve so have to be made into solutions using strong and dangerously unpleasant cyanide-based

chemicals. The electrode that will be plated is generally made from a cheaper metal or a nonmetal coated with a conducting

material such as graphite. Either way, it has to conduct electricity or no electric current will flow and no plating will

occur.


   



    How are plastics electroplated?


    If you know anything about plastic, you ll spot the obvious problem straightaway:

plastic product molding generally don t conduct electricity.

In theory, that should completely rule out electroplating; in practice, it simply means we have to give our plastic an extra

treatment to make it electrically conducting before we start. There are several different steps involved. First, the

plastic surface treatment has to be scrupulously cleaned to

remove things like dust, dirt, grease, and surface marks. Next, it s etched with acid and treated with a catalyst (a chemical

reaction accelerator) to make sure that a coating will stick to its surface. Then it s dipped in a bath of copper or nickel

(copper is more common) to give it a very thin coating of electrically conducting metal (less than a micron, 1μm, or one

thousandth of a millimeter thick). Once that s done, it can be electroplated just like a metal. Depending on how much wear

and tear the plated part has to withstand, the coating can be anything from about 10–30 microns thick.


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