Enamel, Varnish, & Metal Plating
Electroplating is the process of coating a durable but inexpensive metal like copper with a thin layer of a more precious metal like gold or silver using electricity. The most famous example of electroplated awards are Olympic medals. Contrary to popular belief, they are not solid gold or silver. They are all bronze, with the first and second-place medals electroplated in gold or silver. This same principle is applied to awards, trophies and other commemorative keepsakes given out by companies and organizations across the country.
What is Electroplating?
Electroplating has many applications beyond coating less expensive metals with precious metals. It can be used to make metals more durable or rust-resistant and can even be used to coat plastic, making it look like solid metal.
The precious metal coating isn’t simply melted down using heat. Through a process called electrolysis, the precious metal is placed in a liquid electrolyte bath and exposed to low-voltage electricity. The thicker the required end-coating, the longer the metal is exposed to the current and bath. Once the desired thickness is achieved, electroplating can begin.
The Electroplating Process
First, the base metal is cast into the shape of the award or object. It is cleaned with special chemicals so that all traces of grease and oil are removed from the surface. Because the chemicals create an activated surface that can tarnish quickly, the object must be electroplated immediately.
The cleaned objects are then lowered into the electrolyte solution. The desired thickness of the final coating will depend on how long this process takes. A coating of a thousandth of an inch can take several hours while a heavy coating may take all day.
The now-plated objects are next coated with a special finish or patina to prevent any of the precious metal from wearing off. Then a lacquer is applied to the surface for permanence.
There are many types of electroplating for specific uses cases. Brush plating applies the metal coating with a brush-like tool, Partial plating covers only a portion of a service, reverse plating salvages gold from a previously electroplated item, bright plating creates a highly reflective surface, flash plating generates an extremely thin coating, plastic plating requires a slightly different process, and so on and so forth. Electroplating requires precision and should only be overseen by experienced professionals. There are lots of variables involved in electroplating and one miscalculation can be costly.
Why Choose Electroplating?
Electroplating is commonly used in trophy making. The cost of plating a bronze or copper statue is far less than casting a solid silver or gold trophy. The end result is still beautiful and the recipient still receives an award that contains precious metal, but it is much more cost-effective.
Choose Crest Craft For Electroplating
If you are creating custom awards for your business, government agency or service organization, choose Crest Craft of Cincinnati. Our team can help you design an award that will reflect the magnitude of the achievement you are commemorating at a budget-conscious price point. Contact us today to learn more about our nationwide custom awards services.