Episode8: Household electrical products, watches, cameras, etc.

Many other items around us in our daily lives have been produced using plating. These products show us a different side of plating to when plating is used on smartphones and computers, which I introduced in Episode 5 and Episode 6.

Which familiar objects are plated?

There are many more examples of plating around us

If you take a look around your room, then plating will have been used on many of the items that you see. First you might notice metal products such as door knobs and the handles on furniture. Also, almost all of the items that use the power of electricity to operate contain electronic components and circuit boards that have been produced using plating technology. The items such as clocks and cameras will also contain precision machinery components that have been plated.

Let’s look at some of the products around us that are closely related to plating.

The plating of household electrical products

Plating also plays a role in unexpected places!

Electronic control is used in various parts of modern household electrical products. Of course, these parts contain electronic components and printed circuit boards, so plating has been used in them. As I explained for computers in Episode 6, products such as Blu-ray/DVD recorders contain hard disks (HDD) for the storage of the recorded data. The relationship between household electrical products and plating is becoming deeper.

Plating is also used on household electrical products that have been used for a very long time. For example, on irons, the slipperiness (lubricity) can be improved by performing plating on the “soleplate” part that comes into contact with the clothes. When we look into the kitchen, we can find a lot of items where plating is used. This includes plating on the handles of the refrigerator and microwave oven and on the products around the water supply.

Plating and clocks

Plating in action in the past and in the present - on the inside and on the outside!

On clocks, plating is particularly common on the outside of wristwatches, which are in contact with our skin. This plating is performed for decoration and also for an antibacterial effect. In the case of digital clocks, there are electronic components and circuit boards used inside, so these of course use plating technology. Even on analog clocks, plating is used on many of the precision machinery components.

Plating is used on these precision machinery components to prevent rusting, to create smooth movement and also for dimensional accuracy. It is possible to accurately calculate the thickness of a metal layer from the length of the processing time for the plating, so it is possible to adjust the components to more precise sizes.

Wristwatches and pocket watches are also used as fashion items. I will explain the decorative aspects of plating in detail at a later date.

The relationship between cameras and plating

Various parts of a camera are related to plating, including the electronic components in the control systems, the precision components in the mechanical systems and the camera body itself. Plating is used in a wide variety of places. Let’s have a look at what kind of plating is used on cameras.

The use of plating increased as cameras went digital!

There has been great technical innovation in cameras in the past ten-odd years as they have moved from film to digital. Precision machinery components are used in both film cameras and digital cameras. On single-lens reflex cameras, mechanical components are used on parts such as the shutter and the machinery that moves the reflex mirror.

On digital single-lens reflex cameras, the mechanical mechanisms are the same as for film cameras. However, there is also an MPU included for the processing of the data and the processing performed is not unlike that of a small computer. Of course, there are also many electronic components included, on which plating technology plays an important role.

Plating was used from the era of film cameras, but the shift to digital has deepened the relationship even further.

“Black plating” to stop the reflection of light

The insides of cameras are black to stop the reflection of light. Plating can be used for that black coloring. This is called “black plating” and various types are possible, including nickel, chrome and zinc. In addition to its use on cameras, this plating is also used on the insides of telescopes, binoculars and the components of optical measurement devices that handle light.

“Satin finishing” to prevent the reflection of light and create a feeling of high quality

The body color on high grade and professional cameras is black. This is to avoid the color of the camera body reflecting light and appearing in the image of the subject being photographed. The black color is used to prevent this. Furthermore, many cameras also have “satin finishing” performed on the surface of the body.

Satin finishing differs from normal plating because small irregularities are produced on the surface on purpose. This processing method prevents the reflection of light and creates a good feel to the touch. In more specific terms, the satin-finished surface is made possible by performing electroplating with a special additive.

Plating model introduction (Black plating)

Let’s have a look at the black plating that is used for applications such as the insides of cameras.

Black plating

In black plating using electroless nickel-phosphorous plating, the blackening processing is performed after performing normal pre-treatment and plating processing.
The blackening processing is a process that uses a special chemical to discolor the plated surface to a black color. However, this is not the addition of a color using something such as a black dye.

In the final stage, heat treatment is used so that the black coloring is fixed.

On both analog and digital, the active role of plating remains unchanged!

The products and devices in our homes have changed greatly due to the shift to digital. Representative examples of this are clocks and cameras. Plating is used on the mechanical components of mechanical type products and on the electronic components of digital type products.

The technologies progress as the eras pass and the formats and styles of products change, but the use of plating continues. Plating is a technology that is still evolving to this day.