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Why Electroplate? Practical Uses for Electroplating?

Q. What are two practical uses of electroplating, and why do we electroplate metals? What are electroplated metals used for?

- Guyana

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A. Hi, Nafateeri. There are a half dozen different electroplated metals just in the computer you just typed your question into -- including copper, nickel, tin, and gold, and usually some silver, palladium, and chromium. Some of this electroplating is used for carrying current, some is for corrosion resistance, and some for decorative purposes. So two practical uses for electroplated metals are to allow you to play video games and to allow you to post your homework questions :-)

There's a starting point, but there are dozens of other uses. You could continue your research at the library. Best of luck!

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Can you please tell me of some specific applications for engineering in regards to electroplating?

Josh m [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- little rock, arkansas

A. Hi Josh. There are countless engineering examples --

Take these terms and concepts to the library and see what you can dig up. Good luck!

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Hi, my name is Josh from Hollister Ca. and I was just wondering what are some benefits of electroplating an item with a metal?

Josh F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Student - California

A. Hello, Josh F. I already answered that question twice. Please try to phrase your question in a way that demonstrates that you are at least trying by reading the answers already provided on this page, rather than requesting to be spoon fed. Spoons are often made of strong inexpensive materials on the inside, with silver plating on the outside to maintain their good looks, cleanliness, and freedom from metallic taste. Thanks!

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I am a senior student from the Bahamas, wondering if you would be able to give me a detailed list of apparatus required to copper plate an object. I've found bits and pieces, including some on this website, but things such as how much vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] to use, how much salt, etc., are not specified. I would appreciate this information, as it will allow me to complete a chemistry project.

Treat J. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Bahamas
October 13, 2008

A. Hi, Treat. We give you a good idea on this stuff in our FAQ: "How Electroplating Works".

You should use full strength vinegar (it's already a very mild acid, no sense in further diluting it). Add just a pinch of salt (we explain why in the FAQ). But remember that this demo is just to demonstrate the principal; it isn't really a practical way to electroplate (practical electroplating usually requires proprietary and/or toxic chemicals).


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
October 16, 2008

Q. Dear Sir

Please can you let me know what benefits there are to plating copper over actually using a solid copper product. I appreciate steel coated in copper will be stronger but this is not really a factor where I am wanting to use this product. Any advice you can give would be great.



Gavin M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Qatar
September 25, 2010

September 27, 2010

A. Hi, Gavin

Steel is much less expensive than copper, so copper plated steel would probably be less expensive, and slightly lighter. But you don't usually start by selecting a metal and deciding what to make from it, you start by deciding what properties you would like your product to have, and then picking construction materials and methods that suit.

For example, making a copper plated steel waveguide or piece of jewelry might be rather difficult, but making a solid copper one relatively easy by plating onto wax and then dissolving the wax away. There are certainly good reasons to make some objects out of solid copper rather than copper plated steel, and good reasons to make others out of copper plated steel.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. What are the scope and limitations of electroplating?

chris ofoma
student - abuja, anambra, Nigeria
August 28, 2016

A. Hi Chris. Are you certain that you fully understand the question? Trying to figure out from the answer what a question meant is a very efficient way to learn. I don't know if you have enough time for that, so it's better to ask your teacher to clarify any question you don't understand :-)

Electroplating is the electrodeposition of metals onto a surface. Conventional aqueous electroplating is limited to about 22 metals and a few dozen alloys. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
August 2016

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