A: Gold plating is the process where we can apply gold to parts and it will improve corrosion resistance. It also improves conductivity on different contacts and makes the parts look very pretty.
While gold is known for its luxe factor in jewelry, and other luxury consumer items—it’s also an industrial commodity. It’s quite valuable in the industrial marketplace regarding industrial gold plating. Why does the industrial sector prefer gold plating components versus making them from pure gold?
The biggest factor that makes gold plating the preferred choice is simple—cost. The components often plated with gold are usually manufactured in high volume. Making them out of pure gold would get incredibly cost-prohibitive.
However, creating the components out of more affordable metals and then finishing them with gold plating is much more feasible. Even though plating with gold is expensive versus plating with less costly materials—the benefits of gold are what makes the difference. Essentially, if your budget can fit gold plating into your project—it’s going to offer the best quality.
What Is The Gold Plating Process?
Electroplating is the most common method for gold plating as around 98% is done this way. Electroplating is a method that utilizes a process called electrodeposition. This process sends a current of electricity through a liquid electrolyte solution. This solution also contains dissolved gold ions as well as helper chemicals.
When the current activates the solution, it causes the ions to stick to the surface of the component submerged. This is what results in the protective gold plating layer.
Gold plating can be applied to just about any base metal. Base metals such as brass, nickel, or copper are often used and even silver is used in some applications. In fact, some components are even plated with several metals even though the finished external layer is gold plating.
For example, a silver component may be plated with copper to slow tarnishing, Then a plating of nickel will be added on top of that to improve bonding and strength. Finally, the gold will be plated as the finishing layer.
Electronic components are the main sector that uses gold plating the most. This is mainly due to gold’s reliability in all conditions; wet or dry, hot or cold— gold performs the same. The main electronic components that incorporate gold plating into the manufacturing process are:
- Semi-conductors on circuit boards
Another big consumer of gold plating is dentistry as it’s often used for:
- Replacement Teeth
- Restorative and Protective Crowns
Within the dentistry applications, a mold that is created from dental impressions is used to electroform the gold to specifications.
One of the uses of gold plating that is trending upward as of late is in catalytic converters for vehicles. It was previously thought that platinum was the most effective catalyst. However, emerging research is clearly showing that gold maintains a lower temperature during catalysis than platinum. That is why gold is being used in many of the next-gen cars and trucks to improve efficiency.
Miniaturization in the medical field is on the cutting edge of gold plating usage. The development of microelectronic mechanical systems (MEMS) are tools that deliver unprecedented results. Doctors can now perform surgeries that are non-invasive and implant devices that are long-lasting and improve a patient’s health.
Studies of gold usage in implant devices show that it does not cause the body to react in a negative way to the gold. This is a huge win for the medical field as it means better quality implants and less complicated procedures.
Last but not least, gold plating is used frequently in the aviation and aeronautics sector. Primarily, it’s found in rocket engines and heat shields that protect from solar radiation and the corrosive atmosphere.
The Benefits Of Gold Electroplating
Gold possesses more than a handful of unique traits that can enhance the finish and quality of many components. In fact, the traits are so beneficial that most manufacturers realize the added cost is offset by the benefits. This results in manufacturers getting a solid, long-term return on their investment.
Plating components with gold delivers the following benefits:
- Unmatched Corrosion Resistance: Gold is one of the noble metals that is the least vulnerable to oxidation, also known as rust. Rust occurs when iron or some iron-based alloy is exposed to a combo of oxygen and moisture. This exposure will ultimately lead to corrosion which can cause further breakdown. Therefore, being proactive and plating components with gold offers superb protection from corrosion occurring.
- Excellent Electrical Conductivity: With other metals, when oxides form on the surface, it can weaken the component’s conductivity. However, since gold is not susceptible to oxidation this is never an issue. Conductivity improvement is also enhanced due to the smooth finish of the gold-plated component.
- Easy Application: When electroplating metals onto certain components such as electrical contacts, a thin coating is critical. If the plating is too thick it will significantly decrease contact performance. Given that gold is one of the most malleable metals, it makes it easy to get the thinnest coating possible with excellent coverage as well. This ensures high-performance but also helps minimize the cost.
- Enhanced Durability: Gold, despite being so malleable, is very resistant against typical wear and tear. This allows for a longer lifespan and better return on your investment.
- Superior Thermal Endurance: For components exposed to excessive heat, gold enhances their endurance and protects against damage.
- No Fretting Degradation: Gold, unlike other metals will not fret. Fretting is the gradual erosion of the surface due to friction.
Guerrero Gold Plating Services
At Guerrerro we have been offering gold plating services that meet or exceed multiple engineering or military specifications. We accomplish these standards using one of three plating methods as follows:
Barrel Plating— Used for high volumes of smaller components in one batch. Using a non-conductive polypropylene barrel cage to hold the components to be plated. Barrel plating offers an economical way of high-volume components that are relatively durable, such as fasteners. It also requires less of an investment than rack plating due to being less labor-intensive.
Rack Plating— Components are attached to racks with screws, spring clamps, or wires. This holds the component secure while the entire rack is submerged into the plating bath. Due to the more delicate handling, it’s useful for fragile parts that may not handle the tumbling action of barrel plating. It’s also better for plating curves and complex-shaped components. As this method is more labor-intensive and done in smaller batches, it’s the most expensive method.
Vibratory Plating— This method is also good for batch plating in bulk and uses vibration instead of a barrel or rack. Components are placed into a vibratory head and the plating is done in a continuous motion. You can alter the speed of the motion by changing the amplitude of the vibration head as need ed.
Get The Best In Plating Technology With Guerrero
Plating components whether it’s gold, nickel, copper isn’t done just for aesthetics. In fact, that’s rarely the reason. The main reason is to enhance the qualities of a metal, offer a different functionality, or to strengthen.
Regardless of the reason, it requires a specific science with precision tools and attention to detail. Some of the components we are plating go into military aircraft and medical equipment. This is why we are so adamant about quality control.
When you need plating services you can trust to be on the mark every time— Contact us!