Electroplating or Plating is a process of depositing a thin coating of metal on a conductive surface. Reed switch leads outside the glass are plated with pure Tin for solder-ability, but the preferred type of deposition for the contact area of a reed switch is sputtering as it is more uniform and smooth than electroplating.
Electroplating, also known as electrochemical deposition or electrodeposition, is a process for producing a metal coating on a solid substrate through the reduction of cations of that metal by means of a direct electric current. The part to be coated acts as the cathode (negative electrode) of an electrolytic cell; the electrolyte is a solution of a salt of the metal to be coated; and the anode (positive electrode) is usually either a block of that metal, or of some inert conductive material. The current is provided by an external power supply.
Electroplating is widely used in industry and decorative arts to improve the surface qualities of objects—such as resistance to abrasion and corrosion, lubricity, reflectivity, electrical conductivity, or appearance. It is used to build up thickness on undersized or worn-out parts, or to manufacture metal plates with complex shape, a process called electroforming. It is used to deposit copper and other conductors in forming printed circuit boards, and copper interconnects in integrated circuits. It is also used to purify metals such as copper.
The term "electroplating" may also be used occasionally for processes that use an electric current to achieve oxidation of anions on to a solid substrate, as in the formation of silver chloride on silver wire to make silver/silver-chloride (AgCl) electrodes.
Electropolishing, a process that uses an electric current to remove metal cations from the surface of a metal object, is the reverse of the process of electroplating.
Throwing power is an important parameter that provides a measure of the uniformity of electroplating current, and consequently the uniformity of the electroplated metal thickness, on regions of the part that are near to the anode compared to regions that are far from it. It depends mostly on the composition and temperature of the electroplating solution.