Science, Tech, Math › Science Electroplating Definition and Uses Share Flipboard Email Print White gold is electroplated with a harder metal, usually rhodium. rustycloud/Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated March 17, 2019 Electroplating is a process where a coating of metal is added to a conductor using electricity via a reduction reaction. Electroplating is also known simply as "plating" or as electrodeposition.When a current is applied to the conductor to be coated, metal ions in solution are reduced onto the electrode to form a thin layer. Brief History of Electroplating Italian chemist Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli is credited as the inventor of modern electrochemistry in 1805. Brugnatelli used the voltaic pile invented by Alessandro Volta to perform the first electrodeposition. However, Brugnatelli's work was suppressed. Russian and British scientists independently invented deposition methods that came into use by 1839 to copper plate printing press plates. In 1840, George and Henry Elkington were awarded patents for electroplating. Englishman John Wright discovered potassium cyanide could be used as an electrolyte to electroplate gold and silver. By the 1850s, commercial processes for electroplating brass, nickel, zinc, and tin were developed. The first modern electroplating plant to start production was the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg in 1867. Uses of Electroplating Electroplating is used to coat a metal object with a layer of a different metal. The plated metal offers some benefit that the original metal lacks, such as corrosion resistance or desired color. Electroplating is used in jewelry making to coat base metals with precious metals to make them more attractive and valuable and sometimes more durable. Chromium plating is done on vehicle wheel rims, gas burners, and bath fixtures to confer corrosion resistance, enhancing the life expectancy of the parts.