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How Electroplating Works
Early electroplating methods used copper, gold, or silver, but by the 1850s, electroplating methods using nickel, tin, zinc, and brass had been developed. A number of metals can be used for electroplating, including cadmium, zinc, silver, gold, tin, copper, nickel, and chromium. The object to be coated is given a negative charge and immersed in a bath containing salts from other metals. A non-metallic, usually plastic, tank is used.
The object is connected to an electrical circuit, making it negative. Because the salt's metallic ions are positive, they are attracted to the negatively charged item. The electrons of the negatively charged part interact with the ions, changing them into a metal. It is often a complicated procedure, requiring timing, skill, and craft to ensure an even coating. As beneficial as electroplating is, it also has dangers—electroplating can be a risky process because it uses several hazardous materials, including heavy metals, cyanide, and acid. Extreme care must be taken in the handling of these materials, and the disposing of them.