plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Why is auto industry moving from gold to silver plating?
Q. Silver is currently trying to replace Au in the automotive industry. Why Now? why was it not used previously? What are the pitfalls to be aware of?Vijy Koshy
A. Hi Vijy,
Price per troy oz. comparison would most likely be the main reason. Gold closed today at $668.00 / tr.oz and silver closed at $14.19 / tr.oz. (spot pricing). Gold pricing has increased at a much faster rate than silver. When gold was $350.00 a troy oz automotive design engineers lived with the price, and had no reason to make changes. Now with the gold price being what it is everyone is scrambling for alternatives. Silver is used widely for many electronic components where heat and atmospheric conditions are not a concern. I would have to know the exact application for the silver plate before I could speculate on any pitfalls. You would think what they charge for new cars, the increased gold price would be factored in!
A. Hi Vijy. Silver, and all non-precious metals will tarnish, affecting electrical contact. The tarnish can be quite thin and not an obstacle to the current on many applications, probably including 12 volt automotive circuits. But low voltage, very low current electronic contacts still require gold as far as I know. Sorry, I have no inside info on the automobile business.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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