Design and Engineering at Vincent Clad Metals
VCM Platinum Clad Niobium Anodes are used for demanding applications in industrial and electronic parts and materials. Our Expanded Mesh and Extruded Rod Anodes are heavily utilized in OEM Automotive Wheel and Bumper decorative chrome plating. These platers must meet OEM salt spray tests or their products will not make it into the showroom.
- High speed Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium applications
- Electrochemical process manufacturing
- Chemical electrolysis and chemical recovery
- Electrolytic recovery of metals
- Conforming anodes for intricate plated designs and/or “low current density” areas
- Auxiliary anodes often utilized for Copper/Nickel/Chromium electroplating
- Automotive electroplating anodes for decorative Copper/Nickel/Chromium plating applications, including wheels, bumpers, grills, step-up tubes, pickup truck box rails, headlight bezels, and similar parts
- Plating on plastics
At Vincent Clad Metals, we use our knowledge of manufacturing clad metal composites to form plating anodes with superior deposition control and the longest life. We start with 99.95% pure niobium, then brush and remove all surfactants. The platinum is also a minimum of 99.95% purity and milled to the high tolerances that our metallurgical engineer specifies. The two malleable metals are introduced into a large bonding mill capable of reducing the “bond package” thickness by 60%. This thickness reduction generates the heat and pressure necessary to metallurgically bond the platinum foil strip and the niobium substrate on the atomic level, so they are now inseparable. Because of the mill specifications that our suppliers must hold, the tolerances that our bonding and rolling mills are capable of, VCM Platinum Clad Niobium Anodes have a uniform layer of platinum across the entire width (we use Vollmer gauges to maintain these high tolerance requirements). Thus, our anodes have no highs on the edges or lows on the center that you will find on plated titanium anode material.
Due to the thickness reduction of the bonding and rolling processes, the platinum layer is work hardened and non-porous. This process generates the benefit of longevity over platinum plated anodes. Unlike clad metal anodes, the titanium substrate of platinum plated anodes is first abraded to remove the tenacious oxide layer, which acts like an insulator. It is then chemically treated to reduce this layer even farther and for longer periods. Now, the operator has his work cut out for him, for as soon as the abrasion and rinse processes are completed, the titanium oxide layer will reform. Once the titanium layer begins to be covered with platinum, the platinum ions will adhere just as well to the already deposited platinum, rather than always targeting the oxide free areas of the titanium surface. Platinum will not adhere well at the titanium substrate sites with oxide layers forming, as these sites are semiconductors at best. This leaves a platinized titanium surface with nooks and crannies, as well as peaks and valleys. Under increasing voltages, these loose areas lift off due to the evolving oxygen gas in conjunction with bath turbulence. The area surrounding the platinum depleted area will then operate at a higher current density. Thus, a self-defeating failure begins.
Niobium has a much, much higher over potential than titanium, which is the key contributor to its superior performance compared with titanium substrate anodes. This property allows the anode to operate at higher voltages (and current densities) and not be affected by the more basic (high pH) plating baths. The niobium substrate is markedly more tolerant of free fluorides formed at the anode. This benefit is most evident when using conforming or auxiliary anodes, while chrome plating (Cu/Ni/Cr) automotive wheels, bumpers, and other parts. Often, these automotive wheel plating baths utilize an ammonium bifluoride as an additive. This source of free fluorides attacks titanium substrate anodes rapidly. The effective life of a platinum clad niobium anode is always much longer and more predictable than that of titanium substrate anodes.
Auxiliary and Conforming Anodes
In cases where there exists a considerable number of fixtures, auxiliary or conforming anodes that utilize Vincent Metals Clad Metal Mesh Anode material can be most cost and labor efficient. For example, if your program requires 100 anodes, you may wish to build out 110 welded blanks, upon which your in-house rack manager would spot-weld the platinum clad niobium mesh to only the area required (i.e., low current density areas). He would then have 10 spares that he could use to replace damaged or pre-calculated wear areas on the used anodes, thus leaving the performing mesh intact. None of your program anodes would ever leave your plant. They could all be welded, repaired, and stored in your rack maintenance area.
By contrast, the coated titanium anode blank requirement for the same 100 anodes could reach as high as 2.5 times that (100 anodes for the plating program, 100 anodes to be stripped and replated, and 50 anodes for the truck).
Remember that you keep your platinum with Vincent Clad Metals electroplating anodes! With coated titanium anodes, your vendor typically retains the precious metal content. When VMC anodes are used up and no longer repairable, you simply strip the clad mesh from the blank, accumulate it, and ship it off to be refined. Your company will recover most of the platinum that you bought!
Vincent Clad Metals manufactures this product in large volumes and keeps an excess inventory well above our customers’ projected needs. We ship the same day for both domestic or export orders. Please call Blake Vincent at 401.737.2291 to discuss methodology for anode fabrication and welding techniques.