Like other types of electroplating, silver plating offers a corrosion and wear resistant coating that is excellent for protecting many different metals. It comes in several types and levels of hardness, and can be treated with Chromate for improved resistance to tarnishing. Most often silver plating is compared to gold plating, as both metals are often used in connector finishes and have similar properties. However, silver plating has its own unique advantages that make it the better choice in some applications.
The Advantages of Silver Plating
The main benefit commonly cited for silver plating is its relatively cheap cost compared to more expensive metals such as gold. Though silver is considered a precious metal, it’s much cheaper than gold while still producing very similar results in terms of corrosion, wear resistance, and conductivity. As a result, silver is a popular choice for automotive connectors, semiconductors, stamped switch components, and many related applications.
Silver plating is also a versatile coating that can be used to finish several metal substrates including aluminum alloys, brass, copper, stainless steel, inconel, monel, and zinc die cast components. It offers an aesthetically pleasing white-matte finish to the plated component, as well as good anti-galling properties that help to preserve the part’s appearance.
Silver has several other advantages as well. Its high lubricity and ductility make post machining operations simpler and more efficient. Silver-plated parts have a wide operating temperature range, which makes them excellent for a very wide range of applications. Its antibacterial properties have made silver plating popular in the medical industry, while its high solderability and good electrical and thermal conductivity give silver an advantage in the energy and electronics industries. Silver plated parts can also be found serving applications in markets such as Aerospace, Military & Defense, Oil & Gas, and electric vehicle transportation.
The Disadvantages of Silver Plating
The main disadvantage of silver plating is silver’s tendency to form sulfur compounds, causing the surface to tarnish. The tarnish surface is still conductive, but to a lesser extent, the aesthetic value will be impacted as well. For critical applications, silver plating can be treated with chromate to prevent tarnishing, but it still may not perform as well as other types of metal plating.
Like all types of electroplating, silver has its advantages and disadvantages, all of which should be carefully considered before choosing one service over the other. Finding the right type of finish for a part largely depends on the properties required and the application that the part will serve.
If you’re looking for a supplier of silver plating and other finishing solutions, check out Gleco Plating! We have one of the widest selections of options available for finishing and protecting our customers’ parts.