When you think of gold plating, you probably think of the application of a glittery coating often used to enhance the appearance of jewelry and other metallic items. However, gold plating can provide more than aesthetic appeal. The following answers to some frequently asked questions can provide additional insight regarding the true benefits of gold plating.
Q. Does gold plating provide adequate surface protection?
A. One of the biggest benefits of plating with gold is gold offers better protection against corrosion than virtually any other type of metal coating. Gold can also significantly reduce the impact of wear over time.
Q. Are gold coatings electrically conductive?
A. Another attractive property of gold is its remarkable ability to conduct electricity. That’s why gold plating is frequently used in the manufacturing of electronic parts and components such as switches, semiconductors, circuit boards and connectors.
Q. Which metals can be plated with gold?
A. Virtually any metal can be electroplated with gold. Items made of brass, copper and nickel are most likely to receive a gold coating. These metals are also sometimes used as an undercoating prior to gold electrodeposition.
Q. How thick of a gold coating is applied during electroplating?
A. You actually need a thinner coating than you might think for many gold electroplating processes. For instance, a sheet of 20 lb. copy paper is up to 200-300 times thicker than the gold coating typically applied for decorative purposes.
Q. Will an electroplated gold coating wear off?
A. While gold plating provides long-lasting results, the coating can wear off eventually, especially when subjected to harsh environments or conditions. Generally, the thicker the coating, the longer it will last. Gold also adheres more readily to metals such as nickel and copper than iron or aluminum. The good news is effective gold re-plating is entirely possible.
Q. Can gold be alloyed with other metals?
A. Plating with gold alloys is a common industrial practice. For instance, gold-tin alloys are often used as solders in various electronic and optoelectronic die attachment applications. Other gold alloys used for electroplating include gold-cobalt, gold-palladium and even gold-silver on occasion.
Q. What are the drawbacks associated with electroplating with gold?
A. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of gold plating is the cost — it’s no secret gold is one of the most expensive metals. However, the relatively high upfront costs are usually offset by the long-lasting quality of the gold plating process, which ultimately makes it extremely cost-effective in the long run.
Contact Sharretts Plating Company for reliable answers to your gold plating questions, as well as for all of your metal finishing needs. Please note SPC performs industrial gold plating processes only. We do not take on decorative gold plating projects.