I am a hobbyist and want to refinish some parts with silver, gold and nickel. Having parts replated by the local plating shops is expensive and beyond my limited budget. I live in a rural area and have plenty of room to set up a small plating operation. Can you give me some information and tips on how to go about doing this? A. A.
I receive this question, or a variant of it, very frequently from individuals who want to do some plating in their basement or garage. This is what I wrote when I last answered a question of this type four years ago.
When my father started in the electroplating business in the 1930s this was easy enough to do. Times have changed and an individual puts himself/herself and his/her environment at risk by attempting “backyard electroplating.” Most chemicals used in the plating process can be dangerous if not used properly. The plating process generates waste that must be disposed of properly. It is also very unlikely that you will get results that are acceptable in terms of appearance, longevity and performance. I strongly recommend that you not attempt to do any plating on your own.
However, if you are interested in getting an idea about what is involved with the process go to www.pfonline.com and look at some of the articles on silver, gold and nickel plating. Another source of information is the Metal Finishing Guidebook and Directory. If you are still interested after reading the above, you can get training in the process from a number of different sources. My company, Kushner Electroplating School, www.platingschool.com, offers training programs in this area as does the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society, www.aesf.org.
After doing all this if you have an adequate amount of money and are willing to go get all the permits, etc. required, you can build your small plating operation.