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Basic understanding of the purpose of electroplating

Q. Can you electroplate all metals? Is electroplating's main purpose to protect the metal against corrosion? Does electroplating make a conductive surface non-conductive?

Melissa [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- SJ, California, USA 2002

A. To the best of my knowledge, any metal can be plated on, BUT, would you really want to plate on Uranium and etc. Lead is difficult to plate on. Aluminum requires special handling, Titanium requires a different special handling. Even Copper requires special handling Vs steel. Most people would not plate anything on gold or platinum. So, the practical answer is, while it may be possible, it is not practical. To electroplate aluminum onto steel requires some very very special treatment. Titanium is virtually impossible to electroplate onto anything else. So, your question is too broad and rather vague. Any conductive metal that is plated out is conductive unless something else is done to it and even then you need to provide limits as ultimately (but not practically) it is conductive.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

A. Will Rodgers once facetiously asked: "What's a baby good for?". In a slightly more limited way, it is hard to say what is the "purpose of electroplating". Probably corrosion resistance is the single biggest use, but decorative application, hardness and wear resistance, electrical conductivity, reduced coefficient of friction, and a broad range of other properties can be achieved through electroplating.

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

Q. Hello,

I'm looking for instructions for electroplating platinum on a base metal brass. Can you help me?

Thank you!


A. Hi David. It's possible to electroplate platinum onto brass, but it can be a fairly complex undertaking on big parts, in high volume, or if the brass isn't ready for plating. It's probably reasonably simple for a jeweler though.

Please tell us what you want to plate, why, and how much experience you have, and then we can hopefully get you started right.

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

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