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Setting up a small Gold Plating Line
April 4, 2014
Q. We are a small surgical instrument distributor and even smaller manufacturer. We make a handful of our own instruments and do some repair/refurbish work as well. The instruments are usually a 410 grade Stainless Steel, some 420 and occasionally 300 grades. We Gold plate the instruments we make and currently use a small system we inherited from a person who used to do repairs for us. It consists of a couple of tupperware tubs and a rectifier. We use Wood's Strike and Technic's Gold solutions. And, we do one piece at a time.
Obviously, I'm a newbie at this, so bear with me. I want to set up a more sophisticated system and learn to maintain it properly. I really don't know how to care for and test my solutions. I want to be able to do multiple pieces at a time.
I've looked at some of the pre-made systems and I cannot afford them. My budget, less chemicals, is more like a few thousand dollars. I need tanks that will handle at least a 7" long instrument. I have seen some hobby kits that don't seem much more that what I have now. I'd like tanks for de-greasing, electro-cleaning (maybe the same as the former), Nickel Strike, Gold and rinses. Most of our instruments come out of Germany and they don't use a Nickel Strike. They use some acid based Gold solution and electro-clean the instrument first. I haven't seen that here.
I've seen the individual parts on a number of sites, I just don't know what I really need, like heaters, filters, sizes of rectifiers, etc., as well as how to properly care for and maintain the system. We plate maybe one day a week and do 25 items. We are not a high volume business.
That said, is there a resource someone could point me to that would help me with this? Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated.
Small Business - Owner - Tucker, Georgia USA
A. Hi Joe. We don't like to suggest specific brands here, but because you already use Technic processes, and because they do offer small modular (table-top) console plating systems well-sized for 7" parts, and because their support helps make this site possible, I think you could start with them. They'll have a pre-designed console with (say, because I haven't looked up the specs recently) maybe 8 tanks each about 12" cube. Gold Touch [a finishing.com supporting advertiser] is another supplier offering small gold plating systems. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 9, 2014
A. Hello Joe,
Process Engineer - Malone, New York USA
April 9, 2014
Q. I apologize for the brand name reference, but I did notice they were a supporter and with so many types of Gold plating I thought it may help with a better answer. I have talked breezily with them and they are quite helpful, especially for a small potato as me. Their small commercial units are very nice but out of my budget. I hated to pump them for information and only buy some chemicals occasionally. I'll go back to them for sure. I did speak with a consultant from your site and he was helpful, but spoke so fast and about things I wasn't very knowledgeable on that it wasn't enough to really help. He consults mostly with Anodizing plants, but seems very knowledgeable about the Gold process.
I was hoping there was a reference book geared more for my situation; larger than a hobby system, but not commercial sized either. I've read some papers and stuff that are way too broad in other plating and commercial systems. I enjoy your site. I refer to it often for other metal finishing processes as well. Thank you, again and I'll let you know what I turn up and do. JoeJoe Black
- Tucker, Georgia USA