The Process of Gold Plating
Gold plating is when an item has a layer of gold over another metal, which is underneath when it is made. This process is also called electroplating. When items are plated in this manner, it is typically an attempt to improve the aesthetic qualities of the particular item. It is a common practice in the jewelry industry, as it can restore older looking pieces of jewelry. Gold plating is a simple enough technique, but some practices are yield better than others.
The first step is surface preparation. A clean surface on the metal is key. All soils and dirt need to be cleaned and the item itself polished. There are a few ways to properly prepare the surface. It can be stripped, polished, sandblasted, or tumbled. Also, the use of solvents, alkaline cleaners, abrasive materials, water, or any combination can be used as well. Any means necessary to clean the surface of the metal.
Cleaning of the Item
The next step is cleaning the item, essentially for a second time, but this go-around provides a deeper clean, as well as ensuring the metal is completely free of all oils and dirt. Once the surface is sufficiently prepared and inspected, the item is cleaned using electro-cleaning, steaming, or ultrasonic cleaning. These are effective cleaning methods that get rid of all remaining contaminants on the item. Once it it cleaned, it can be rinsed off to remove whatever cleaning agents were remaining.
The Strike Layer
Next, a strike layer is added, which adheres a thin layer of high-quality nickel plating to the base metal. By essentially creating a buffer layer between the plating and underlying surface, bonding between the two layers often improves and can extend the life of the plating. After this layer is completed, another rinsing is necessary before the base coat is applied.
Then there is the final coating. In this step, the piece is lowered completely into the plating solution and is done so with the time, temperature and voltage of the procedure controlled, as various metals need different attention. When the items are placed in the tank, an electrical charge is applied due to the use of a cathode bar, which the item is being hung from. This bar is a pole that has a negative electrical charge going through it, which is the same as the piece of jewelry being placed into the tank. This way there is no interference and the jewelry properly attracts the positively charged ions in the solution, thus getting plated.
The thickness of the plating is determined by the length the item is in the solution. Once you are done plating, remove the items and rinse them with water and hang them to dry. If you plated multiple items, hang them without touching one another. If you have any questions about this process, please contact us today. Arbe Machine has years of experience plating metals and supplying quality plating machines to industries across the country. We can help you through any issues you may be experiencing.