A: Silver plating is commonly used in the oil & gas industry on seal rings. It’s also used on different electrical components. Additionally, it’s used sometimes instead of gold for a lower cost. However, it also offers high wear resistance and corrosion-resistant capabilities as well.
Industrial silver plating is a process of coating metal with a layer of silver. The industries that use this type of plating are varied, including electronics, medical devices, and jewelry. It is also used quite frequently in aeronautics for turbine parts due to its resistance to friction. Even at high temperatures, silver exhibits outstanding lubricity in any application. Due to this fact, it’s also used on engine gears as a break-in coating.
Industrial silver plating has several finishes available— bright, semi-bright, matte, or dull. Silver Plating can be accomplished using many different techniques to achieve the desired look and durability.
It is well-suited for electroplating since it possesses characteristics that other metals just don’t have. For centuries, silver plating has been used across a wide range of industries and applications because of its durability and low cost. If it’s a cost-effective plating solution you’re seeking, silver is the best choice—it’s both inexpensive and high quality.
Capabilities Of Silver Plating
There are several grades of silver used for plating which are broken down by hardness, purity, and finish. Purity comes in three distinct types— Type I, II, and III. As far as hardness, it comes in four degrees of hardness. Additionally, silver comes in three different finishes that meet specific engineering standards.
Silver Plating Methods
Silver can be coated onto the substrate of choice using a variety of methods. The most common being rack plating and barrel plating:
- Barrel plating: This is a viable method when you’re needing to plate a bunch of smaller components all at once. The components are placed in a cage that is shaped like a barrel that is made from a non-conductive material. The barrel is then submerged into an electrolytic bath of silver ions. This process results in better uniformity and efficiency.
- Rack plating: In this method, the substrate or component is hung from a rack with hooks or screws. The whole rack is then submerged into the ionic bath. The screws or hooks conduct electricity which causes the silver ions to adhere and bond to the component. This is ideal for larger parts that might otherwise get damaged in a barrel.
Commonly Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions about silver plating as it tends to be one of the most sought-after plating metals used. The questions range from the basics of electroplating with silver to what the advantage is to using silver over other metals. Here are a few of the questions we get asked the most often:
What Is Silver?
Silver is a precious metal and while many mistakenly think it ranks second to gold in value, they’re wrong. Silver is second to last in terms of precious metals value falling just ahead of Indium. In fact, Gold itself isn’t even the most precious. That position is held by the often-overlooked rhodium which is extremely rare and highly resistant to corrosion.
Silver is, however, one of the most versatile metals. It’s heavily used in plating and metal finishing, but also photography, mirrors, medicine, and much more. Silver is considered a noble metal as it’s resistant to oxidation. Like gold, it’s also used as currency and traded worldwide as such.
What Are The Properties Of Silver?
Silver is the best bet when you need a finish that will stand the test of time. Since it’s a noble metal, it isn’t prone to corrosion and has a high melting point. This makes it ideal for high-temperature applications and low-oxygen applications such as aeronautics.
As far as aesthetics, silver plating can be applied in a bright, semi-bright, matte, or dull finish, depending on your project. The different appearance options make it ideal for manufacturers who need different finish options for their products. Also, silver is highly reflective in a bright or semi-bright finish making it popular in the photography industry.
Where Does Silver Originate From?
Silver is mined much like gold and other precious metals and is always found near gold deposits. Some silver comes from other metal ores such as copper, zinc, and lead as a byproduct. Silver is most predominantly found in Mexico and Peru and both nations are famous for this export. Silver can be purified by electrolysis which removes any traces of other metals to produce pure silver.
What Does The Silver Plating Process Entail?
The silver plating process is pretty straightforward but can differ slightly depending on the plating method. The gist of it though is:
- Inspection:Before plating, whatever components are being plated must be checked for imperfections such as burrs or sharp edges. Any found imperfections need to be remedied or the quality of the plating will suffer in quality.
- Pre-treat: Once imperfections are corrected any required pre-treatments are applied such as base plating of copper, nickel, or both. Other popular pre-treatments include anti-tarnish or a silver strike. The thickness of your silver plating should be the same as any base plating layer.
- Electroplating: Now, you’re ready to plate which involves submerging the component into the silver ion bath. Whether using the barrel or rack method, the electric current needs to pass through the bath until coated. How long and how often it needs to be submerged depends on the desired thickness.
How Much Does It Cost To Plate With Silver?
Silver plating is one of the most cost-effective materials compared to other metals. This is due to the wide availability of silver. Unlike platinum and rhodium which are very rare, silver is abundant so it’s very economical.
The cost of plating also depends on several factors such as thickness, complexity, methods, and how many parts you’re plating. The cost of silver also fluctuates, so the price can change from one day to the next.
What Are The Benefits Of Plating With Silver?
Due to silver being a resilient and abundant metal of high quality, it offers a wide range of valuable benefits. You’ll find there’s no shortage of reasons to opt for silver plating such as:
- Corrosion-resistance: Silver is highly resistant to corrosion so it’s ideal for applications that will be subject to corrosives. It’s used frequently in oil & gas, automotive parts, and other applications in harsh environments.
- Conductivity: Silver is excellent at thermal and electrical conductivity so it’s perfect for electronics or applications that involve extreme heat or electricity.
- Lightweight: Although you may expect silver to be very heavy given its durability, it’s rather light and not difficult to manipulate. It’s highly solderable and ideal for joining with other metal parts or on circuit boards.
- Antibacterial: Silver is naturally antimicrobial and fights the growth of bacteria so it’s no surprise that it’s used heavily in the medical field. However, it’s even woven into athletic clothing such as cycle shorts to prevent microbial growth and promote cooling.
Would You Like To Learn More About Silver Plating For Your Application?
Silver plating is a valuable part of the manufacturing process for a multitude of industries and applications. Whether it’s computers and electronics taking advantage of the conductivity or medical supplies—silver is valued.
At Guerrero Plating Technology we offer silver plating for a wide range of industries and applications. We can accommodate many special pre-treatments and other modifications that your application may require. No matter what your needs are, silver offers so many advantages that other metals just can’t bring to the table.
Contact us today and speak with one of our plating consultants to see how we can help you with your projects.