We have included a comprehensive electroplating FAQs section to this site. We hope that these questions and answers can help provide additional real world context to your electroplating and metal refinishing needs. We also invite you to review the related technical papers that can be found in the articles section on this site.
The Basic Plating Primer
What is electroplating?
Patented in 1840, electroplating is a process by which a thin layer of gold, silver, palladium, and other metals are deposited onto a conductive object to enhance its appearance and value. Utilizing an electrical current, positively charged metal “ions” travel through a liquid solution known as an “electrolyte”, and are deposited onto a negatively charged metal object.
What can be electroplated?
Just about any type of metal or conductive surface can be plated. We have successfully plated over titanium, stainless steel, mild steel, and numerous other base metals. Electroplating over copper, bronze, aluminum and silver are the most commonly plated materials. We do not plate nonconductive items such as wood, plastics, leather, or stone.
How large an object can be plated?
Though we rarely encounter object size as a problem, we can plate objects with the outside dimensions of 18 inches x 18 inches x 24 inches. Most often our largest items are silver tea services or small sculptural pieces.
Will the electroplating process “fill in” wear marks, pits, or surface scratches?
Unfortunately no. For the most part all electroplating processes will make any surface imperfection in the metal item even more noticeable! For best results, all objects will need to be polished and cleaned prior to replating. We can provide that additional service if your item requires it.
Typically, what are some of the items you are plating today?
At Metal Arts Specialties, we have enjoyed a large cross section of customers ranging from individual crafts persons, small manufacturers, scientists, inventors, fine metal restorers and individuals refered to us from satisfied customers. As you can imagine, we have plated a large variety of jewelry items, individual heirlooms, watches, holloware, and some very innovative new work created by today’s leading metal artists.
Will Metal Arts Specialties replate previously plated items?
Yes. All the old plating would be removed first, it would then be refurbished, polished and cleaned prior to replating. Our company is a leader in providing “custom” metal restoration and plating services to our valued customers.
If my jewelry item has gemstones in it, can it still be plated?
Yes, most of the time. Plating bath temperatures and chemicals can be very harsh on gems and stones such as opal, malachite, lapis lazuli, and turquoise. We would have to protect them prior to plating to prevent any damage. We specialize in hard to plate items and can work with you on the most suitable solution for your item.
Can enameled objects be plated?
Yes. With proper care and handling enameled items can withstand the thermal and chemical exposure.
Can hollow objects be plated?
Yes, however the successful plating of hollow parts is probably the most difficult technical task for the master plater. Hollow parts have the best chance of being plated if they have drainage holes in them to allow the bath solution to freely drain away after plating. We would need to evaluate the object to give you a better idea of cost relative to what can be achieved.
Can items with a decorative matte, textured, or photo-etched surface be plated?
Yes. We can plate over just about any type of finish as long as the surface is free from fingerprints, oils and other contaminants.
How long does it take to have an item plated and returned to customer?
It depends. If it is a just straight forward plating onto a new or original art object, with little or no surface preparation, it takes about 2 week or less. If it is an object with moderate surface blemishes or oxidation, it takes about 2 to 3 weeks. If the item is in need of extensive restoration and refinishing, it could require anywhere from 8-12 weeks for completion.
What are some of the different factors that influence plating prices?
There are many important considerations that need to be calculated. Issues such as item quantity, size of the object to be plated, type of plated material you will require (i.e. gold, silver), thickness of the plated material, and in some cases any additional repolishing, dent removal or restoration work that you feel is necessary to enhance the value and appearance of the object. We can provide you with a free estimate and a final quote after we know more details.
What is the minimum order charge for plating services?
We have a $60.00 minimum per order. This price does not include shipping or special handling. For more detail on pricing please navigate to the pricing section on this web site.
How does Metal Arts Specialties ship finished items?
Unless otherwise instructed we ship U.S. mail 1st class insured. For special rush orders we will ship FedEx or UPS overnight at an additional charge. All shipping costs are paid by the customer.