Does your company electroplate thin layers of one metal onto another? Or have you recently acquired quantities of used e-plating equipment or scrap from another company? In either case, you could have something of value on your hands.
Here are the answers to some questions about how electroplating works and where dollars could be hiding.
Why Is Electroplating Done?
Electroplating can be used to beautify metals or protect them from corrosion. Remember the “chrome cruiser cars” of the 1950s, with acres of chrome-plated trim? Similarly, jewelry and tableware can be coated with silver or gold to make them more beautiful. Electroplating is also used to make metals less likely to oxidize – that’s why “tin cans” are actually steel cans that have been electroplated with tin so that the steel will not react chemically with the can’s contents. In addition, durable metals like platinum and palladium are sometimes plated onto softer metals to make them harder or abrasion-resistant.
How Is Electroplating Done?
Let’s look at the most basic way of coating one metal onto another – in an electroplating tank. First, that tank is filled with liquid, called the electrolytic bath, which contains a solution that contains the metal like platinum that will be used as a coating. The object to be plated is immersed in the bath, and connected to the negative terminal of a source of electricity that will flow through the bath. (In other words, the object to be plated becomes the cathode.) Next another piece of metal – one that will not be plated – is connected to the positive terminal and immersed in the liquid. (It becomes the anode.)
When electricity flows through the bath, electrodes of the metal that will become the plating (i.e., silver) adhere to the object that is being plated.
That basic process can vary, depending on the nature of the metal that will form the plating, the object to be plated and other variables. Sometimes, for example, the anode can be made of the metal that will be used as a coating; electrodes from it will flow to the object to be coated. But even though there are variations, that’s basically how tank e-plating works.
Why Can Used E-plating Materials and Supplies Be Worth Money?
There are several reasons. Let’s take a closer look.
- Tanks, filters, mesh screens, piping and other equipment can have become coated with quantities of the gold, palladium or the other precious metals that have been used as platings.
- If a tank has been used to apply alloys of precious metals, the “used” cathodes can still contain quantities of precious metals that can be quite valuable.
- The used electrolytic fluid, and any “sludge” that accumulated on the bottom of tanks or elsewhere, can contain quantities of the precious metal that was used as a plating.
Want to Know What Your Used E-Plating Materials are Worth?
Several factors can determine how much value you have in used electroplating supplies – the kind of metal that was used as plating, for example. If you have quantities of these potentially valuable recyclables on hand, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. Tell us what you have and we’ll be pleased to help you claim the hidden dollars that could be hiding in it.
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