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Electroplating was first discovered by Luigi Brugnatelli in 1805 through using the electrodeposition process for the electroplating of gold. However his discovery was not noted as he was disregarded by the French Academy of Science as well as Napolean Bonaparte. But a couple of decades later, John Wright managed to use potassium cyanide as an electrolyte for gold and silver. He discovered that potassium cyanide was in fact an efficient electrolyte. The Elkington cousins later in 1840 used potassium cyanide as their electrolyte and managed to create a feasible electroplating method for gold and silver. They attained a patent for electroplating and this method became widely spread throughout the world from England. Electroplating method has gradually become more efficient and advanced through the use of more eco-friendly formulas and by using direct current power supplies.
There are many different metals that can be used in plating and so determining the right electrolyte is important for the quality of plating. Some electrolytes are acids, bases, metal salts or molten salts. When choosing the type of electrolyte some things to keep in mind are corrosion, resistance, brightness or reflectivity, hardness, mechanical strength, ductility, and wear resistance.
The purpose of preparing the surface before beginning to plate another metal onto it is to ensure that it is clean and free of contaminants, which may interfere with the bonding. Contamination often prevents deposition and lack of adhesion. Normally this is done in three steps: cleaning, treatment and rinsing. Cleaning usually consists of using certain solvents such as alkaline cleaners, water, or acid cleaners in order to remove layers of oil on the surface. Treatment includes surface modification which is the hardening of the parts and applying metal layers. Rinsing leads to the final product and is the final touch to electroplating.Two certain methods of preparing the surface are physical cleaning and chemical cleaning. Chemical cleaning consists of using solvents that are either surface-active chemicals or chemicals which react with the metal/surface. In physical cleaning there is mechanical energy being applied in order to remove contaminants. Physical cleaning includes brush abrasion and ultrasonic agitation.