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topic 5238

How Does an Electroplating Bath Work?


Q. Hi I am Michael I am 18 and studying Engineering at college and I have been set an Assignment which I have nearly finished! but am stuck on the last part which it to explain how an Electroplating bath works..... PLEASE COULD SOME ONE HELP I would be most grateful.

Michaael Seddon
college - England

simultaneous 2000

A. In electroplating baths, you have an electrical power source, without this nothing happens - if it did it'd be Electroless. Anyway connect the positive to one electrode (this is the anode) and the negative to another electrode (this is the cathode), place them both in a vessel of conducting fluid (usually water + salts) and anions (+ve ions) will be attracted to the cathode where they can pickup electrons as they deposit themselves. The anions can be placed in the conducting fluid (electrolyte) or they can be driven from the anode by the power source. The +ve ions are usually metal and thus coat the cathode in a layer of metal atoms.

Ian Brooke
university - Glasgow, Scotland


A. In its absolute simplest form, when the conditions of pH, temperature, metal ion concentration and etc are in an acceptable range, the DC power will remove one or more electrons from the anode metal and will add the same amount of electrons to the ion at the cathode(part) forming a metal coating with a zero valence. This is an unbelievably simplistic approach to plating.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. If you are studying engineering, then you probably had a general chemistry class. That is all that is required to understand the basics of how an electroplating tank works. It is simply a reduction-oxidization reaction where electricity causes a metal anode to dissolve to be plated upon your part. I'm sure your professor would be pleased if you mentioned the Nernst equation and the Activity Series of metals.

tim neveau
Tim Neveau
Rochester Hills, Michigan

April 3, 2011

A. Hi, Michael. Our FAQ "How Electroplating Works" should give you the answers you need. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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