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Mar 15, 2024

AOTCO Expands Silver Plating Capacity To Meet Growing Demand From the Aerospace Industry

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Precious metal plating is used in everyday items around us, from cell towers to ball-bearing surfaces to circuit boards. In space, though, silver plating and gold plating are important barriers that protect vital equipment from the incredibly harsh environment around it – shielding components from extreme temperatures, radiation and other severe stresses.

The harshest of conditions require the highest quality materials and the highest level of precision. At AOTCO Metal Finishing, that’s exactly what we specialize in: precision-finished parts that meet the most demanding needs and regulatory requirements.

To satisfy the growing demand for silver plating services and gold plating for aerospace applications, AOTCO is expanding our silver plating capacity with larger tanks and an in-house team of engineers dedicated to developing solutions for the aerospace industry’s surface finishing challenges. We specialize in the plating of light metals including: Magnesium, Titanium, Beryllium, and their various alloys.

Silver plating and gold plating in space.

Why Silver Plating in Space?

Electroplating in the space industry is essential. Silver plate in particular offers a range of benefits essential for aerospace and satellite technology, thanks to its chemical composition and more affordable cost than other precious metals like gold.

Silver plating has great electrical resistance while also offering superior anti-galling properties, making it ideal for threaded assemblies prone to friction and wear.  

The lubricious nature of silver plating reduces the risk of thread damage and seizing, ensuring smooth operation and longevity in challenging environments like space.

Plus, silver's soldering qualities enhance manufacturing efficiency and reliability.

All those factors make the silver electroplating process desirable for satellite applications, particularly for interior components less susceptible to oxidation.

Take waveguides, for example. The center of the waveguide is electroplated in silver because it’s a material that provides good radio frequency (RF) performance thanks to silver’s electrical conductivity and solderability.

Gold Plating and Other Precious Metals Electroplating

Other metals are also used for aerospace electroplating. Gold plating is often seen on the outside of satellites, for instance, because of gold's reflectivity and corrosion resistance.

Copper plating is also typically used for electronic applications like the circuit boards found on satellites.

When selecting the appropriate precious metal for an aerospace application, several factors are considered, including:

Electrical Resistivity and Conductivity

Metal materials with high conductivity ensure optimal performance and help dissipate heat efficiently. Silver has the highest conductivity of structural metals.

Anti-Galling Properties and Lubricity

In space, where metal components and critical systems are subjected to extreme temperature variations and mechanical stresses, reducing wear and friction ensures smooth operation and longevity.

Soldering and Malleability

Forming a reliable bonding between components and the surface is important, as is the ability to work with the material during manufacturing.

Reflectivity and Light Absorption

Minimizing absorption of solar radiation helps create stable operating conditions, mitigating the risk of overheating and damage.

Corrosion Resistance

A durable barrier protects against corrosion, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and replacement.

Industrial Specifications and Regulatory Requirements

Meeting regulatory requirements and aerospace specifications with a NADCAP-certified vendor is table stakes.

Cost Efficiency

While gold plating remains an option for certain applications, the higher cost often steers preferences towards silver, given its comparable performance and relative cost-effectiveness. Look for the right silver plating specifications for a cost-effective plating solution and process.

Image showing silver plating services in space

A Silver Plating Services Partner To Ensure Quality and Innovation

As space missions grow more ambitious and demanding, the careful selection of materials and electroplating processes becomes more critical.

Added to that is the need for strategic partnerships with experienced NADCAP-qualified plating providers like AOTCO to ensure the reliability, performance and longevity of parts in space.

Precious Metal Plating Expertise and Experience

The  AOTCO team brings over 50 years of expertise to the table, making us a trusted partner in the aerospace industry. With a deep understanding of the unique challenges and requirements of space applications, the AOTCO team brings the knowledge and experience needed to deliver high-quality plating solutions tailored to the demands of space missions.

Commitment to Engineering Excellence

Engineering excellence is more than a goal – it's our commitment to you. AOTCO | Labs, our dedicated in-house team of engineers and plating scientists, work tirelessly to push the boundaries of innovation in plating technology.

We don’t just stay abreast of the latest advancements and best practices in the field. We help our partners innovate and develop unique solutions that pair well with plating processes that meet the highest standards of quality and performance.

Expansion and Investment

We continually invest in expanding our capabilities and capacity, ensuring we can meet the growing demands of our customers – like expanding our silver plating lines – without compromising on quality or turnaround time.

From larger plating tanks to state-of-the-art facilities, we offer dedicated capacity and production scaling for high volume. We offer pre-treatment and post-treatment options, like mechanical or chemical polishing. NADCAP-approved, ROHS-compliant silver plating specifications are available. Additionally, complex jobs like masking are performed by hand by professionals with decades of experience, bringing together the best of art and science.

Training the Next Generation

We fully understand the importance of investing in the future, particularly as the plating industry continues to shrink. That's why we prioritize training and development programs to nurture the next generation of plating professionals, while also facilitating current research and development in our in-house AOTCO Labs.

Reputation and Reliability

Perhaps most importantly, AOTCO has earned a reputation for reliability and excellence in the aerospace industry. Our track record of delivering high-quality plating solutions, coupled with rapid turnaround times (between 5-7 days for plating without masking and 15 days with masking) makes us a preferred partner for aerospace companies and other industries around the globe.

When you partner with AOTCO, you can trust that your components are in capable hands.

Connect with us to learn more about silver plating for satellite technology, aerospace needs and more.