What Is the Best Precious Metal?

The metal coating you choose for a component or product greatly affects its properties and performance. Electroplating using precious metals typically leads to superior results. The best precious metal for electroplating your product or component will depend on certain factors, including industry, intended application and budget.

What Are Precious Metals?

Precious metals are rare but naturally occurring metallic elements. They tend to have high economic value compared to base metals, and they are used in a wide range of industries. Many people recognize precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum, but lesser-known precious metals are just as coveted in industrial applications.

Why Use Precious Metals for Electroplating?

The rarity of precious metals means electroplating with them comes at a higher cost compared to electroplating using more common metals such as copper or tin. However, the quality and performance advantages precious metals offer tend to make the investment worthwhile.

Precious metals have unique qualities that make them ideal for coating substrates:

  • Corrosion resistance: Precious metals are less reactive than base metals. This means they oxidize more slowly and resist corrosion, maintaining their appearance and high-performance properties, even in harsh environments.
  • Luminescence: These metals offer the ideal solution for thermal control with low emittance and high reflectance values.
  • Conductivity: Many precious metals, including gold, conduct electricity very efficiently. This makes precious metal electroplating a popular choice for components in the electronics and telecommunications industries.

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The Best Precious Metals for Electroplating

We offer a range of precious metal electroplating services at SPC for customers in industries such as aerospace, automotive, defense, electronics, optics, health care and power generation. Choose from these precious metal coatings:

  • Gold: Perhaps the best precious metal for electroplating and certainly one of the most popular, gold offers high corrosion resistance and conductivity, as well as protection against hot temperatures. Gold coatings are ideal for electronic, semiconductor, aerospace, medical and dental applications.
  • Silver: Often used in the automotive, telecommunications, electronics and electricity generation industries as a lower-cost alternative to gold, palladium and platinum, silver provides high electrical and thermal conductivity and resistance to acids and chemicals.
  • Platinum: Platinum features high ductility and a higher melting point than gold. It proves useful in high-temperature applications and performs well in the aerospace and automotive sectors.
  • Rhodium: Rhodium has a higher melting point than platinum and displays extreme durability in challenging humid conditions. Potential rhodium coating uses include optic fibers, optical mirrors, electrical contact material and catalytic converters for automobiles.
  • Ruthenium: Manufacturers choose ruthenium for data storage products and other electrical components due to its durability, resistance to tarnishing and relative affordability.
  • Palladium: Although more susceptible to stress and damage in harsh conditions, palladium acts as a malleable, cost-effective and low-density alternative to gold in the automotive, consumer electronics and medical device industries.
  • Palladium Nickel: This alloy improves palladium’s resistance to cracking and reduces its porosity. You may consider palladium nickel coatings for electrical components such as connectors and contacts.

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Contact SPC to Learn More

When you choose a precious metal to coat your products or components, you can expect the final result to perform well and stand up to wear in the long term. If you need help selecting the best metal for your application, contact the experts at SPC. We have more than 80 years of experience in the industry and would be happy to explain more about our electroplating process.