What is electroplating?
Electroplating is generally referred to as the deposition of metal onto a surface suitable for it.
Various metals can be deposited, including copper, nickel, chromium, zinc and some others.
Many metals and their alloys can be electroplated, which requires different processes for pretreatment.
Likewise, plastic can be electroplated, in which case a special treatment is necessary, as the prerequisite is an electrically conductive surface.
How does galvanization work?
In electroplating, the component to be coated is immersed in an aqueous electrolyte containing metal. A charge exchange takes place that causes metal ions on the component to react to form solid metal.
This charge exchange can take place with the aid of direct current, or without current, i.e. without external current.
Electrolytes that deposit metal by means of direct current have soluble anodes (+) that consist of the pure metal to be deposited. The component is switched here as a cathode (-).
External currentless metal deposition takes place without additional current. The base material of the component is dissolved, leaving electrons on the workpiece.
These electrons reduce the metal ion present in the electrolyte, gradually building up a metal layer.
Where is galvanization applied?
There are hardly any limits to the possible applications. Galvanic processes are predominantly used for corrosion protection; in the automotive sector one can find some examples of this. Galvanic coatings are also very popular in the decorative sector. For example, furniture or door fittings and jewelry are often exposed to precious metals. Hard chrome is used as a technical layer for hydraulic cylinders, for example.
Electrolytically deposited zinc coatings are among the most important and cost-effective electroplated coatings used today to achieve corrosion protection for metal components.
In combination with various post-treatments such as passivation and sealing, they are resistant to atmospheric corrosion even in aggressive types.
In addition to corrosion protection, electrogalvanizing often serves decorative purposes.
Layer thickness: approx. 0.3 µm
Layer thickness: approx. 8 – 15 µm
Layer thickness: approx. 15 – 20 µm
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What to consider?
There are a number of things to be considered for quality electroplating of parts. The design of the component must be executed in a manner suitable for coating as early as the planning phase.
This means, for example, that closed cavities should be avoided, components should not be welded together over a wide area, etc.
Subsequently, the correct coating for the component must be selected. For this purpose, it must be clear what properties the finished surface should have.