You probably already know that copper is frequently used in electrical wiring because it is an excellent conductor of electricity. This also makes copper electroplating an excellent choice on metal surfaces where a high level of conductivity is required. Although copper has a somewhat dull reddish-brown color, the finish can be brightened with the use of additives if a shinier, more attractive finish is desired. (Think of a brand-new copper penny.)
Other Copper Benefits
Copper is a soft, malleable metal, making it ideal for plating surfaces and objects in which some flexibility is required. Because copper is also highly adhesive, it won’t separate from the material even when the object is bent. Like many electroplating processes, copper plating increases the corrosion resistance of the material. Copper plating results in a high thickness build and can serve as a heat-treatment stop-off for selective heat treating. Copper coatings can even act as a type of lubricant in high-temperature conditions.
Other Uses for Copper Electroplating
Of course, copper’s superior conductivity makes it a preferred plating option for the electronics and semiconductor industries. Because of its adhesiveness, copper makes for a highly effective underplate for tin and nickel plating. Some industries use copper to provide metallization of non-metallic materials such as plastics. One consideration when plating with copper is that introducing a cyanide solution into the bath may be necessary to achieve the highest level of adhesion. Cyanide is a highly toxic substance and requires a great deal care when used in the plating process.