Frequently asked questions
Here you find answers to questions that we are asked frequently. But we would prefer it to discuss with you in a personal dialogue and answer your questions there in depth. Don´t hesitate to contact us!
Why should a company work with Umicore Electroplating?
We offer a comprehensive portfolio of approximately 1,200 components for electroplating processes and are among the world's technology leaders in precious metal and base metal electrolytes as well as precious metal preparations and anodes. An important advantage is the fact that Umicore Electroplating defines its quality level in accordance with international standards and ensures thus a homogenous high level around the globe.
A proof of our high quality standards is that we work closely together with several universities and research institutions at home and abroad.
What are the most important manufacturers, which you support?
Umicore collaborates with many leading technology companies. We mention names of references - if we are allowed by our customers - in a personal discussion. In addition, we convince you with a comprehensive consultation and suitable sample coatings.
What services can a user expect from Umicore Electroplating?
We consult extensively, often on-site, which process is best suited. For many customers, we also develop new processes. In addition, we support our users with trainings in the long term. Customers also appreciate our competent and comprehensive laboratory analysis. For example, we run in the Far East region several analytical laboratories and warehouses. Local experts support customers - often in native language - in process optimization.
What career options do you offer to professionals and managers?
We are constantly looking for qualified specialists and managers for our headquarter in Germany as well as for our numerous locations worldwide. We offer both beginners as well as experienced professionals many opportunities for individual development. This is often associated with numerous stays abroad around the globe.
For what purposes can your products be used particularly?
Many of our customers are leading in jewellery manufacturing and the electronics industry. In addition, the lifestyle segment and the automotive industry play an important role. But there are also many other sectors of the economy, which we supply for electroplated coatings.
Again and again we are discussing problem solving strategies for issues such as color, brilliance and hardness of surfaces in the jewellery production. Corrosion, abrasion resistance or contact resistance are central in functional layers. A cross-sectoral challenge are effective anti-tarnish processes.
Which trend products do you currently offer for the jewellery industry?
Umicore Electroplating has traditionally been closely connected with the jewellery and watch industry. In particular, the products listed below are currently in vogue. RHODUNA® Diamond Bright deposits brilliant-white, ultra-bright coatings of previously unattained lightness and brilliance. AURUNA® 502 is a neutral, cadmium-free gold copper electrolyte working without free cyanide. RHODUNA® Black is perfectly suitable for applications where black ruthenium can´t fulfill the requested abrasion requirements.
Do you also offer products for electroforming?
Umicore Electroplating provides advanced gold-silver, fine gold and silver electrolytes for electroforming, especially for hollow jewellery. They are suitable both for wax as well as for metal cores. Many other products on the market only work with one kind of mandrels.
What solutions does Umicore Electroplating offer for precious metal saving?
Umicore Electroplating provides solutions to replace expensive precious metals e.g. gold by cheaper precious metals or precious metal alloys. Palladium-nickel, silver or silver alloys achieve in corresponding applications often adequate results as hard gold, but cost significantly less. Moreover, precious metal can be saved by layer thicknesses optimization. This can be achieved through a more uniform layer distribution, but also by optimizing the layer system with intermediate layers, for example, with NIPHOS® and additional topcoats such as Umicore Sealing 691. Furthermore, the layer distribution and selectivity can be improved by means of electrolyte additives.
Which anti-tarnish processes do you offer?
It is important for us to provide our customers with solutions, which are optimized for the respective requirements in the technical as well as in the decorative field. In electronics, for example, it is important that the contact resistance is hardly affected. With Umicore Sealing 691 we offer a tailor-made treatment process for this area which accomplishes this. Also for the decorative segment we have Umicore Antitarnish 616 PLUS, a perfectly matching product.
Do you offer also nickel-free products?
Of course. Inform yourself in detail in our dedicated page on this top issue.
What are the most important topics of your research and development department?
Our R & D team is working on many projects. Frequently, we adapt existing processes specifically for customer requirements or we develop a completely new process. For example, we are currently in addition occupied intensively by our research for cyanide-free alloys and innovative processes to reduce layer thicknesses. This leads to less consumption of expansive precious metals.
What are currently your main products and improvements in electronics?
Especially in the segments connectors, smartcards and LED components, we have long been partner of the industry with a broad range of products. Permanent innovation and cost pressure in these areas also stimulates us to offer continually better solutions for functional layers. In doing so we always have quality and process costs equally in mind.
What processes do you deliver for printed circuit boards?
We offer proven electroless plating processes such as ENIG, ENEPIG, EPIG and ISIG. Particularly, nickel-free surfaces we have in focus. The constantly advancing miniaturization in electronics as well as the more complex circuits and components with high pin numbers require HDI PCBs with ever finer pattern structures and further decreasing pattern distances. These - often RF-compatible layouts - make it more difficult to use several micrometers thick nickel intermediate layers as a diffusion barrier. Therefore we are increasingly focusing on alternatives such as thinnest layers of palladium and silver. This layer combinations with gold are significantly less than one micrometer thick and a forward-looking solution to meet the increased challenges to the fine pattern ability and RF suitability of the circuit board.
What is your most innovative product in solder mask?
We represent Taiyo Ink in Europe. The company has developed a new type of solder masks for rigid and flexible PCB’s. They are applied with special inkjet printers from different manufacturers. According to the CAD/CAM generated data the solder mask is exclusively applied to the defined areas on the board and instantly fixed in the printing process with UV light. Simultaneously the legend ink could be applied additionally through a second print head. To complete the solder resist process, only a thermal curing (150 ° C/60min.) is necessary. Fewer process steps and, therefore, less handling, high registration accuracy and avoidance of solder mask residues in holes improve first-pass yield in solder mask areas dramatically. The environmental impact of solder mask processes is significantly reduced.
How do you protect the environment and why do your customers benefit from this?
Among others, we are committed with the agenda "The Umicore Way" expressly to foster sustainability. This means that we protect our natural resources beyond legal requirements. Customers also gain immense benefits from this: We respond quickly to emerging trends in national as well as international health and environmental policies. So we have a great expertise in this field. We have the knowledge to consult users intensively and offer our customers the most suitable products at an early stage.