We have been asked to plate a small component with silver. It is an ideal candidate for barrel plating because of its size and the number of parts that will have to be plated. We do have a small barrel plating line, but we have never plated silver using the line. Can it be done, and what differences between rack and barrel plating should be expected? Appearance is one of the major concerns. J.G.
Yes, silver barrel plating is a common process. The difference in appearance of the silver plate from the two processes depends somewhat on the weight and size of the parts. If the parts are small and lightweight, I would expect very little difference in appearance. If the parts are larger and a little heavier, the finish from the barrel process would tend to be burnished and more lustrous than those obtained from the rack process.
A reminder that you are probably aware of already: The silver barrel plating solution usually has different concentrations of components compared to that of the rack plating solution. Typically, lower metal concentrations are called for in the barrel plating process. Consult your chemical vendor on this before embarking on barrel plating silver.