The primary reason to plate base metals with precious metals is to prevent oxidation and corrosion. The plating increases the lifespan of the finished product, and plating base metals with precious metals enhances electrical properties. It helps the forming and shaping of components, and plating also improves a component’s bonding ability with organic adhesives. Precious metals plating prevents wear and tarnish, but sometimes plating is done just for the sake of appearance because of consumer demand for a more attractive piece.
How to Lower Costs
If you have a need for precious metals plating and wonder why the price varies from order to order, there is a good explanation. The price of precious metals fluctuates daily, and so a quoted price may show up higher or lower on the invoice. At ProPlate we try to be creative in our methods to help keep costs down for our clients. The market is competitive, but testing alternative metals, plating thickness and processes can help, including:
- Use Alternative Metals
- Alternative Processes
- Reduce Thickness
- Selective Plating
Alternatives Methods and Metals
Palladium is about half the cost of gold, and when we can use it at ProPlate. It's a good replacement for gold because it shares many of the same properties. The anti-corrosion and electrical conductivity or palladium is an exact match for gold. Reducing thickness is an important factor in reducing costs. When testing thickness we often find that older specifications call for thicker plating than really needed, and the key to the successful use of alternatives is in testing the specifications.
Instead of applying an immersion bath or complete plating of the entire surface, with selective plating only a selected surface is electroplated. When the application permits, this process can be used to minimize costs because the it allows for a reduction in the overall material consumption of the precious metal.
When It Has to be Gold
Using 14k Karat instead of 24 Karat helps to keep costs low. At ProPlate we tested 14k gold, and we discovered that because it's harder than 24K gold we could cut down on the thickness of the plate. Through the testing, we discovered a chemical process that gives a desired hardness to the plate using 14K gold, and this makes a significant drop in cost. Another method is to use a thinner layer of 24k gold, and then apply layers of the properly balanced 14K gold.
It's all about testing the specs, and keeping a close eye on the price of the precious metals. Of course safety and quality are our number one concern, but regarding precious metals plating, it's also important to use to give our customers the best product at a low cost.