Plating processes are very specific and are carefully selected for the specific application. Every detail of the operation, including the specific lead alloy used in the lead anodes, has to be carefully selected for plating thickness, quality, and consistency.
Lead anodes are made from lead that is alloyed with a range of different metals to increase the ability of the anode to conduct electricity, to stand up to heat and the avoid corrosion resistance. In many applications, the choice of antimony, tin or silver in specific percentages is a critical factor in setting up the process.
Shapes to Consider
In addition to the type of alloy used in the anode, the shape is also a critical factor to consider. In the past, two of the most common shapes for anodes used in commercial and industrial plating operations were flat and rectangular shapes. These shapes are easy to manufacture, and they are also easy to handle in the plating process.
However, there are drawbacks to these two shapes as well. Round shapes of lead anodes are increasingly replacing the old shapes of flat and rectangular for several reasons. First, the round shape tends to carry the electrical current across the entire surface, which means more even distribution of the current in the plating process. The round shape also eliminates “dead spots” on flat or rectangular anodes where current is not present.
This, in turn, means that there is a lower voltage required to maintain the desired current. With less voltage, there is also less heating of the anode, which provides a longer life cycle and lowers the cost of operation. Other shapes that have similar benefits of extending the life of the anode and providing more consistent current include basket anodes, grid anodes and various shapes in stick anodes.