The History of Electroplating

Electroplating is a very useful process which allows to alter the physical, chemical and surface properties of objects. At Electrum, we have developed a strong expertise in this technique since our founding in 1990. Today we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history of the process we use every day in our work, electroplating.

Modern electrochemistry was invented by Italian chemist Luigi V. Brugnatelli in 1805. To ease his first electrodeposition, he used the voltaic pile, an invention of his colleague Alessandro Volta. Unfortunately, Brugnatelli’s discoveries were suppressed by the French Academy of Sciences and 30 years had to pass before they were used in general industry.

Around 1839, in Russia, Boris Jocobi not only rediscovered electroplating, he also developed electrotyping and galvanoplastic sculpture. Subsequently, electroplating quickly became popular in the country as well-known personalities such as inventor Peter Bagration, scientist Heinrich Lenz and science fiction author Vladimir Odoyevsky contributed to its development.

Soon after, John Wright of Birmingham, England, discovered that potassium cyanide was an adequate electrolyte for silver and gold electroplating. Moreover, the first patents for the electroplating process were awarded to two of his associates, Henry and George Elkington. These two men later founded the first electroplating industry in Birmingham that eventually spread around the world.

Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg, which was opened in 1876, was the first modern plant to use this technique. The commercial electroplating of nickel, brass, tin and zinc, meanwhile, was designed in the 1850s.

Finally, two factors have had a great influence on the progress of electroplating: the arrival of electric generators and the 2 world wars. Indeed, electrical generators greatly helped to manufacture metal machine and auto parts in bulk while the 2 world wars accelerated the development of electroplating for use in war aviation.

This concludes our article on the history of electroplating. We hope that reading it has helped you to understand the origins of the process on which Electrum is based since its foundation.

Discover Gold

Gold is the world’s most well known metal. Indeed, it is synonymous with luxury and prestige and objects that are made using this material are also as sought as they are expensive. Gold, however, has other uses more practical than those for which it is best known, and this is one topic which we will discuss in this article that will make you discover gold.

Gold is a Precious Metal That is Also an Excellent Heat and Electricity Conductor

Gold’s Properties

Gold, whose chemical symbol is Au and atomic number 79, is a noble material which is an excellent electrical and thermal conductor. It is the 3rd most conductive metal behind silver and copper, but its high price greatly limits its use (copper is the main metal used for electricity transportation).

It is also a malleable and ductile metal. Its ductility gives gold the ability to deform under tensile stress.

From Where is Gold Extracted?

Gold is found in many countries worldwide. Gold producing countries include China, Australia, United States, South Africa, Russia, Peru, Indonesia, Ghana, Canada, Uzbekistan, Brazil , Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Chile.

How is Gold Used?

Over time, mankind has found many uses for gold. Here is how gold is used today.

  • Jewelery

    Because pure gold is soft, it is widely used in alloys with base metals such as copper to create jewelry.
  • Investment

    Just like silver, gold is also an investment product. Moreover, many countries, including the United States, have a federal reserve of gold. At the time of this writing, an ounce of gold was worth $ 1,526,13.
  • Electronics

    Because of its high electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion, gold is used in the creation of connectors for the electronics industry, in particular within some computers, in communication equipment and aircraft motors. There are also gold connections in certain consumer products such as audio, video and USB cables.
  • Food

    Food is an unusual use of gold. Indeed, some upscale restaurants adorn some of their creations with very thin gold leaves and some alcoholic drinks contain gold flakes. It is important to note that gold tastes nothing and has no effect in the body of the person who consumes.

This concludes our article on gold. We hope that reading it has helped you to understand how gold is an important metal in our modern society and how its uses are varied. At Electrum, we frequently use gold in electroplating projects, which makes us privileged witnesses of its physical and chemical properties.

Discover Tin

In the articles we have published so far, we introduce you to several metals that we use daily in our electroplating activities such as silver and copper. Today, we decided to introduce you to a less known metal compared to those mentioned above, tin.

Tin is a Useful Metal Because of its Corrosion Resistance and its Low Toxicity Level

Tin’s Properties

Tin is a silvery malleable metal whose chemical symbol is Sn and atomic number 50. It is also a metal that does not oxidize easily while in contact with air which is used in many alloys, in the plating of steel because of its resistance to corrosion and in food packaging because of its low toxicity.

How is Tin Produced?

Tin is obtained by the reduction of the SnO2 oxide with carbon using a reverberatory or electric furnace. In addition, 30% of the world’s tin production is obtained by the recycling system set up for this metal.

As of 2011, the world's largest reserves of tin were China, Malaysia and Peru.

How is Tin Used?

Tin has several applications. Here are a few.

  • Tin Plating

    Tin is easily combined with iron and is used to form a coating on lead, zinc and steel to prevent corrosion. As we mentioned earlier, tin-plated steel containers are often used to preserve food.
  • Window Manufacturing

    Tin is part of the glass manufacturing process used to create windows (the ‘’float’’ process). Indeed, during the manufacturing of this type of glass, molten glass is poured onto molten tin in order to produce a flat surface.
  • Dental Hygiene

    Tin fluoride is added to some dental products as stannous fluoride. This kind of fluoride allows mixing with calcium abrasive while sodium fluoride does not allow it. It has also been shown to be more effective than sodium fluoride in controlling gingivitis.

This concludes our article on tin. We hope that you have learned a couple of things about this less known but very useful metal while reading it.