The Electroplating Process and Trends
Electroplating, as used today, is the process through which a conductive object is coated with a layer of a different material to transfer properties of the new material to the surface of the object. The process, called electrodeposition, relies on electrical currents to coat the object, also known as the cathode, with positive cat-ions, transferred from the positively charge anode, (the other material). By using an electric charge to oxidize the anode, cat-ions with a positive charge are formed and then reduced at the cathode, thus depositing a coating of the anode’s material on the cathode.
Recent Electroplating Trends
Although electroplating, as patented by the Elkingtons, spread quickly and successfully across Europe, the process remained relatively unchanged until the 1940s, when a surge in the electronics industry lead to the replacement of traditional cyanide solutions with safer acid baths, at least on the commercial level. The 1970s saw the development of safer water disposal regulations and continual hardware upgrades, which streamlined the process by enabling faster and more efficient electroplating
Today, new chemical developments make it possible to electroplate a wide range of materials, including platinum and osmium. The electronics industry continues to rely on electroplating for products such as connectors and circuit boards, and as the telecommunication industry expands, so does its dependence on the process. In addition, waste-water recycling and attempts to minimize work-place chemical exposure are helping ensure that electroplating continues to be safe regardless of chemical changes and ongoing developments.
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