Many industries use metal plating to make everything from engagement rings to electronic antennas. The following are some common examples.
1. Metal plating for aerospace
Many aircraft components are plated to add a "sacrificial coating" that extends the life of the component by slowing corrosion. Since aircraft components are subject to extreme temperature changes and environmental factors, additional layers of metal are added to the metal substrate so that the function of the component is not compromised by normal wear and tear.
Many steel bolts and fasteners designed for the aerospace industry are electroplated with chromium (and, more recently, zinc-nickel due to changing constraints).
2. Metal plating for art and home decor
Type the word "plating" into Etsy and you will see a large number of plated home decor and one-of-a-kind memorabilia. Artisans often use this process to turn biodegradable items, including flowers, twigs, and even bugs, into durable and long-lasting works of art. You can use plating to show off and preserve fine details in items that would otherwise disintegrate quickly.
Digital designers sometimes use plating to create sculptures. Designers can 3D print a substrate using a desktop 3D printer and then electroplate the design in copper, silver, gold, or any metal of choice to achieve the effect they want. Combining 3D printing with plating in this way can produce parts that are easier (and cheaper) to manufacture, while still having the same look and finish as a solid cast metal sculpture.
3. Metal plating for automobiles
Metal plating is very common in the automotive industry. Many major automotive companies use plating to make chrome bumpers and other metal parts.
Metal plating can also be used to create custom parts for concept cars. Restoration companies and vehicle customization businesses also use plating to apply nickel, chrome and other finishes to a variety of automotive and motorcycle parts.
4. Metal plating for jewelry
Metal plating is probably most often associated with the jewelry industry and precious metals. Jewelry designers and manufacturers rely on this process to enhance the color, durability and beauty of rings, bracelets, pendants and a variety of other items.
When you see jewelry described as "gold-plated" or "silver-plated," you are likely looking at jewelry that is plated. Various combinations of metals are used to achieve unique tonal finishes. For example, gold is often combined with copper and silver to make rose gold.
5. Metal electroplating for medical and dental applications
Metal electroplating is used to add a flexible exterior to various medical and dental components. Gold plating is often used to create dental inlays and facilitates various dental procedures. Implant components such as replacement fittings, screws and plates are often plated to make the components more resistant to corrosion and compatible with pre-insertion sterilization. Medical and surgical tools, including forceps and radiographic components, are also commonly plated.