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Decorative coatings in the field of electroplating have one thing in common—surface reflection or, better, image reflection—whether the plated article is finished in silver, gold, brass, copper, nickel, or chromium. Every prospective purchaser examines the article before he buys. One of his first interests, although he may not be aware of it, is to see his own image reflected. His judgment of a perfect plated article is based on whether this image reflection is perfect in all details. Should the image be blurred by the polishing lines of the basis metal, his interest soon wanes and he passes onto the articles that have that magic touch, ranging from a small item such as a cigarette lighter or a large object such as a bumper faceplate on a new car. This human interest of a prospective buyer overshadows all other properties of the decorative coating at the time of purchase. He is not concerned with the physical properties of the coating (that is, the number of hours of salt spray resistance, the internal stress, ductility, thickness, hardness, etc.) as they are of secondary interest at the time. The public has been educated to know, and expect from the electroplating industry, that a very smooth finish will have the desired physical properties to insure lasting service from the plated parts. Exact image reflection has been for years one of metal finishing's firsts. The electroplating industry has been striving to obtain the exact methods of measuring this property and the necessary steps that must be taken to insure the final results, and still keep the costs of manufacturing at a safe level to maintain a profitable margin.
Bowman, G. B.
Chief Chemist, Rockwell Spring and Axle Co., Coraopolis, Pa.