How to Gold Plate Something

Written by kelvin hayes
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Gold plating is the process of applying hardened 24 carrot gold, dissolved into a water solution, to a metallic surface using electricity. The first record of gold plating dates back to 1803 when Professor Luigi Brugnatelli discovered how to attach gold to the surface of silver using electricity -- a process that is now called electroplating. The most common surface you'll plate with gold is chrome, from chrome rims and car emblems to trinkets and utensils.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Electroplating machine
  • Vinyl drain apron
  • Drain pan
  • Duct tape
  • Spray water bottle

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  1. 1

    Position the vinyl drain apron in a way that allows the different solutions and water rinsing to drain into the pan without spilling on other surfaces. If you're plating a car emblem for example, tape the vinyl just below the emblem and run the apron into the catch pan on the ground.

  2. 2

    Position your electroplating machine near the item to be plated and touch the electrical prong to the item. While touching the prong to the item, brush on the stripping solution to remove the chrome from the piece, exposing a layer of nickel. Spray the item with water, using the spraying water bottle, until the metal stripper is completely rinsed away.

  3. 3

    Apply the activator solution with another brush to prepare the underlying nickel to receive the gold. You'll need to maintain the electrical connection while applying this solution as well. Rinse away the solution with water and reapply the activator again to ensure the entire nickel surface has been activated. Rinse away the second application with water.

  4. 4

    Touch the electrical prong to the item once again which brushing on the gold solution. You'll see the piece turn from a silver colour to gold. Rinse with water and apply five more times, rinsing between each application, to build the thickness of the gold to 30 micro inches. This thickness will ensure the underlying nickel does not show through.

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