All List of Chemicals Used in Electroplating – Substances and Safety

There are many electroplating chemicals in the process. People working in the electroplating industry may risks from hazardous chemicals, metals, wet work, live electrical currents, and heavy machinery. Therefore, Individuals working with chemicals understand the hazard and take safety measure seriously.

Electroplating is the process of coating of a metal object with another metal, using an electrical current passed through a chemical solution. This system includes a cathode plate, an Anode the plating metal, an electrolytic solution, and electrical current.

Electroplating Chemicals

The electroplating process involves chemicals from pre-treatment (solvent degreasing, alkali cleaning and acid dipping), during plating, to the final buffing, grinding and polishing of the product. The process uses various chemicals depending on metals that they are electroplating. Here are some chemicals in electroplating usage.

There are hazardous substances in workplaces. Therefore, workers in the electroplating workplace need to understand the hazardous and follow the safety measures. People can experience harmful effects from hazardous chemicals in form of fumes, vapors, mists, metal dust electrolytic solutions, solvents, heavy metals, and toxic wastes. Some chemicals in the process to be looking out for are include :

1. Acid

There are numerous acids usage in the acid dipping process. This includes hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, sulphuric and nitric acids which are all corrosive to the skin and eyes. Moreover, acid mists may evolve from high concentrations of acid, air or tank content agitation or higher tank temperatures. In addition, it can irritate the skin, eye, nose, and throat, and may result in chest pain, cough and shortness of breath.

  • Hydrofluoric acid is highly hazardous and corrosive through skin and eye contact. Moreover, high levels of exposure may cause organ failure and death. Calcium gluconate gel should be kept readily
  • hydrochloric acid is a strong acid that dissolves various types of metals and produces metal chloride and hydrogen gas. There are many usages of hydrochloric acid in daily life mostly as a cleaning agent.
  • Sulphuric, This chemical is a match to work with Chromium Chromic acid and copper for an electroplating process.

2. Arsine Gas

This chemical is a combination of acid comes into contact with most solutions containing arsenic ions. A source of nascent hydrogen which exists at the presence of other metals in acid. Arsenic may be present due to impurity in metal or in commercial grades of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids. Arsenic is used to dilute solutions as an aid in electroplating of rhodium and noble metals in order to improve adhesion, hardness and to brighten of those metals.
This substance poisoning can happen due to its hemolytic activity, or chronic due to its carcinogenic potential. People working with it are among the first to show any symptoms, such as a headache, dizziness, stomach pains, vomiting, delirium, seizures, and coma.

3. Chromic Acid

The chromic acid plating solution in the electroplating of metals make the surfaces decorative and corrosion resistant. The ratios of these chemicals vary depending on the objective of the plating. There are hard plating to decorative plating recipes that use chromic acid to sulfate chemical differently.

Chromic acid has a strong irritant and corrosive influence. Exposure to this chemicals can affect the skin, nasal and bronchial mucosal linings. Moreover, skin contact can cause chronic ulcers or more commonly as ‘chrome holes’. The side effect after inhaling this chemical as a mist or contaminated dust, chromic acid can cause nasal irritation, rhinitis, and bronchitis.

4. Cyanide

Electroplating can happen with or without cyanide. This substance is a part of bath works to dissolve the HAP metal added as a cyanide compound. It creates free cyanide in solution to help to corrode the anode. There is some harmful effect by using this chemical, the cyanide ions and are corrosive to skin and eyes and highly toxic after the swallow. Moreover, If the pH of a cyanide plating bath falls below pH10 then the air above the bath may contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide gas.

Moreover, it is extremely hazardous when cyanide ions come into contact with an acid. It creates smells of bitter almonds and as a chemical asphyxiant is one of the most rapidly acting of all known poisons. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include weakness, confusion, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, seizures, and also coma.

5. Chemicals Dust

The electroplating involves grinding or polishing machines of metal objects. This activity use of an abrasive wheel, scratch-brush wheel, grinding and finishing belt or other similar equipment. These cleaning acts generate fine dust that may be harmful especially if they after inhalation. There are side effects if chemicals are inhaled and can cause pneumoconiosis with symptoms including inflammatory reactions within the lungs, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

6. Nitric Acid

This chemical takes part in the acid dripping process in electroplating. It has corrosive effects and requires particular care because of the potential for liberation of nitrogen oxides. However, when this substance turns into water-soluble nitrogen oxides, it can cause respiratory tract irritation and lead to chemical pneumonia. Moreover, with low water solubility, it can penetrate deep into the lungs and can cause delayed health effects such as lung edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs).

7. Solvents

Most solvents in electroplating pre-treatment processes are organic chlorine, alcohol or petroleum-based chemicals which have properties to dissolve organic solids. Moreover, they are often mixtures of several chemicals that may pose harmful effect without the proper care. Hazardous solvents in electroplating include acetone and trichloroethylene.

They can lead to unconsciousness and death if come in contact with skin or inhaled. In addition, Long-term health effects of solvent exposure can affect the brain and nervous system, the skin, liver, bone marrow, kidneys, fertility, and the fetus.

When a metallic salt dissolves in water it dissociates to form ion charge with electric. The process includes passing a DC electric current through the solution, where positive ions migrate to, deposited on, the negative electrode, causing the article to plate. There are various chemicals used to make sure the electroplating process goes smoothly and enable the movement of the proper ions.