Umicore Electroplating's Platinode Anodes are Nearly Lead-Free
Platinum-coated titanium anodes are almost lead-free while boasting additional ecological and economic benefits.
The use of lead is subject to increasingly time-consuming and costly occupational safety and environmental requirements. Plating businesses must also deal with the complicating fact that waste products created during production (such as lead chromate and lead oxide) will likely be subject to additional measures. This is especially relevant in hard-chrome plating, where lead anodes were standard for a long time. It is very likely that lead anodes will have to be replaced at some time in order to keep production efficient in the face of new regulations.
One solution is high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) with platinum-coated titanium Platinode anodes from Umicore Electroplating that is almost lead-free, while boasting additional ecological and economic benefits.
For decades, platinum-plated titanium anodes (Pt/Ti) have been successfully used in hard-chrome plating. As long as suitable electrolytes are used, a completely lead-free process is usually possible without excessive costs by simply replacing lead anodes with Pt/Ti anodes. Plating without lead Pt/Ti anodes coated using high-temperature electrolysis offers two additional ecological benefits:
- A reduction in the base substrate (for example, titanium or niobium rather than lead) thanks to a considerably longer life span based on better durability.
- Sparing use of platinum (which is made resistant to corrosion through high-temperature electrolysis). Re-platinization of the base substrate means that any existing platinum can be refurbished and reused, saving costs.
Umicore says that, in addition to very even layers on the object, another benefit of the Platinode is that they require no touching up due to the dimensional stability of Pt/Ti anodes and the high-temperature electrolysis that allows up to 99.99% purity in platinum coatings, as well as excellent adhesion and ductility.
Umicore calculates an investment of three to five times the annual costs for standard lead anodes in the first year, and a company can expect to break even within around three years of installation. But the company says that Platinode anodes pay off in many other electrochemical plating processes, especially in an increase in the use of semiconductor and printed circuit board technology.
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