Several methods are available for applying a coating of gold onto an industrial product. The electroplating process has been the preferred choice of metal finishing companies and manufacturers for years, although a newer technique known as PVD coating is rapidly gaining traction in many manufacturing circles. We’ll explore the differences between the two to help you discover why gold plating is better for your production operations.
What Is Gold Plating?
The electroplating process applies gold or other metals to the surface of a substrate via electrodeposition. The method entails placing the workpiece into a tank with an electrolyte solution. This solution contains dissolved ions of the chosen metal — gold in this case. Consequently, some refer to the technique as ion plating. The introduction of DC electricity into the plating bath attracts the positive ions and draws them to the workpiece, where the electrodeposition then occurs.
What Is PVD Coating?
Physical vapor deposition, or PVD, is a process that many manufacturers now use for coating metals such as titanium and stainless steel. The technique involves “blasting” the gold onto another metal at a high temperature. During the process, the material moves from a condensed vapor phase that to a thin solid film. Examples of products that are compatible with PVD coating include semiconductor devices, aluminized film for packaging material and metalworking cutting tools
Why Choose Gold Plating for Your Manufacturing Needs?
Some of the advantages of PVD coating can include increased durability and improved coating adhesion. However, the results can vary widely based on the quality of the process and the skill of the provider. Many companies still prefer the benefits of traditional gold plating such as:
- Reliability: Gold plating is a tried-and-true metal finishing technique that has delivered consistent long-term results for decades. On the other hand, mass-production PVD coating is still a relatively new process without an extensive track record.
- Coating uniformity: Electroplating can cover recessed areas that most PVD processes can’t reach. As a result, gold plating can often provide a more even, uniform surface coating.
- Varied thickness: Gold plating offers more flexibility for achieving the ideal coating thickness. Using this method, it’s possible to produce a coating ranging from very thin to extremely thick to meet the manufacturer’s specific requirements.
- Increased masking potential: Some manufacturers may wish to plate some areas of a workpiece but not others. Gold plating is more compatible with these selective plating applications than PVD coating.
- Lower energy consumption: Gold plating requires a low-voltage electrical current for electrodeposition to occur. In contrast, physical vapor deposition often occurs at a temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The increased consumption of energy can raise the cost of the project when using PVD.
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SPC Can Serve All Your Gold Plating and Metal Finishing Needs
SPC is a family-owned and operated company with more than 90 years of metal finishing expertise. We’ll be happy to help you learn more about the benefits gold plating can provide for your manufacturing operation. Contact us to request a free quote today.