Gold Plating


Gold Plating

Premiere Gold Plating Services at Sterling Plating in Chicago, IL

Custom Gold Plating is valued for its physical properties. As a noble metal, gold has a natural ability to resist corrosion and oxides which can form on the surface of other non-noble metals. Corrosion and oxides can create electrical conductivity issues resulting in poor performance or shortened product life-cycles, which the gold plating process can help avoid.

Sterling’s Gold Plating Process

What does Gold Plated mean? The process of Gold Plating requires the application of a thin layer of gold onto the exterior surface of another metal.  At Sterling Plating, our specialization in electroplating allows us to offer gold plating services for orders of several different sizes. Sterling’s services use either hard gold or soft gold based on your intended use for the item being plated. Depending on your application, our gold finishing capabilities include:

  • Barrel Plating
  • Prototype Plating


The Difference between Hard and Soft Gold

Gold’s hardness is measured on the Knoop scale , which tests the microhardness of brittle and thin materials. Commonly, gold is broken into two categories; hard and soft gold, each having their own unique applications. When choosing a gold plating service, figuring out whether to use hard or soft gold can be tricky. Here is a summary of the key differences between the two and common applications they are used in:

Hard Gold

  • Is an alloy of 99.7% gold and 0.3% of a hardening agent, most commonly either nickel or cobalt.
  • Gold plating is used as an electrical or electronic contact finish because it is a noble metal that does not oxidize or chemically react in corrosive environments.
  • Has a Knoop hardness between 130 – 200 and is used where electrical conductivity (especially very low current applications), solderability and/or corrosion resistance are important design requirements.
  • When compared to soft gold, hard gold proves superior contact wear resistance.

Hard Gold Plating Specifications: ASTM B488, MIL-G-45204, MIL-DTL-45204

Soft Gold

  • Soft gold, also referred to as pure gold, is naturally soft because it has little to no grain refiners or additives to make the deposit hard.
  • Soft gold is 99.9% pure gold and has a Knoop hardness between 91-115.
  • It is pliable and is easier to solder than hard gold.
  • Soft gold is typically used in lead frame wire bonding applications and high reliability solder applications where hard gold would not be appropriate.

Soft Gold Plating Specifications: ASTM B488, MIL-G-45204, MIL-DTL-45204