Electroplating as cross-sector technology

Being a cross-sector technology, electroplating contributes significantly to the development of new products and technologies.
Electroplated coatings are used in many industries. The largest part of our customer base is the automotive industry while other clients come from mechanical engineering, construction, medical device industry, sanitary industry, electronics or PCB manufacturing.

Cross-sector technology

plated parts

Plated coatings usually contribute only a small value to the end product but they nonetheless play an important role in the development of innovative products by providing specific properties such as

  • corrosion resistance
  • wear resistance
  • bright appearance
  • temperature resistance
  • conductivity
  • contacting
  • solderability.

In addition, electroplating technology helps to extend the service life of many everyday objects. Economists estimate that plating prevents damages from corrosion and wear amounting to €150 billion annually in Germany alone. For example, just one kilo of zinc can protect a ton of screws against corrosion. In this way, electroplating prevents the destruction of valuable steel materials and makes an important contribution to environmental protection and resource conservation.

Electrochemical deposition of metals

Electroplating is the process of depositing metal on a workpiece using direct current. To achieve this, the workpiece is immersed in an aqueous solution of the corresponding metal salt. The workpiece is connected to the negative pole of a current source and thus becomes the cathode. The metal ions deposited on the cathode are added to the solution by using a counter electrode (anode) made of the same metal as contained in the solution and connecting it to the positive pole of the current source. The metal is then dissolved at the anode and deposited on the cathode via the aqueous solution.

Chemical deposition of metals

Metals can also be deposited without an external power source. In this case, the electric charges originate from a so-called reducing agent, which is also dissolved in the aqueous solution and is oxidized in the process, while the metal ions are reduced to metal by the absorption of the electric charges. The reduction of the metal ions takes place on the surface of the workpiece which is to be coated and leads to the formation of a metal layer. With the help of a suitable pre-treatment (activation or catalyst), metal can be deposited even on plastics.

Widely used coating metals are zinc and zinc alloys, which account for about 40 percent of all electroplated coatings in terms of value, followed by copper, nickel, chrome, tin and precious metals.

Schlötter offers a wide range of processes for functional and decorative electroplating.

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