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Gold Plating: The Best Way To Protect Aerospace Components From Tarnish

by | Jul 27, 2023

In the aerospace industry, the significance of gold plating cannot be overstated. This process plays a crucial role in safeguarding vital components against the detrimental effects of tarnish and corrosion. Unlike alternative plating techniques, gold plating stands out by offering unparalleled protection, surpassing expectations with its remarkable resistance to scratches and harsh environments.

By electroplating a thin layer of gold onto metal components, a durable barrier is created, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and preserving a brilliant appearance for an extended period of time.

In this blog, you will understand how gold plating effectively protects aerospace components from tarnish and corrosion, enhances their durability and appearance, and why Valence’s specialized gold plating solutions are the ideal choice for preserving the integrity of aerospace components. 

Looking to enhance the protection of your aerospace components? Request a free quote or contact us today for a comprehensive assessment of your gold plating needs and a personalized solution tailored to effectively safeguard your valuable components!


What Is Gold Plating? 

Gold plating is a highly effective method of applying a thin layer of gold to metal surfaces, commonly utilized in the aerospace industry to improve component appearance and durability.1 In addition to enhancing aesthetics, gold plating offers remarkable corrosion resistance and is exceptionally resistant to tarnish. 

The process involves electroplating, which entails immersing the component in an electrolyte solution and applying an electrical current to attract gold particles, resulting in a uniform and protective gold layer. The thickness of the gold layer can be precisely controlled by adjusting the voltage and duration of the electroplating process. 


What is Gold Plating?

How Does It Work? 

Gold plating is a meticulous process that involves depositing a thin layer of gold onto a metal substrate, typically copper or brass. The gold layer is applied through electroplating, where an electric current is passed through a solution containing gold ions and the substrate. This causes the gold ions to adhere to the metal surface, creating a protective and visually appealing layer of gold.

The thickness of the gold layer can be tailored to suit specific requirements, making it a versatile choice for aerospace applications. Apart from its aesthetic appeal, gold plating serves as a protective barrier, safeguarding the components against oxidation and corrosion. This is especially crucial in the aerospace industry, where exposure to moisture, chemicals, and extreme conditions can pose significant challenges.

Gold plating offers the advantage of restoring damaged components. If a component has suffered from corrosion or wear, gold plating can be employed to rejuvenate its appearance and functionality, extending its service life. 


Benefits Of Gold-Plated Components In Aerospace 

Gold-plated components in aerospace offer a range of benefits, including: 


Helps Against Tarnish 

As a noble metal, gold resists tarnish and oxidation, making it an optimal choice for safeguarding aerospace parts.2 By forming a protective layer on the metal surface, gold plating prevents the onset of tarnish and minimizes the risk of corrosion, ensuring the structural integrity of the components.

With its barrier-like properties, gold plating shields the components from environmental damage. It can also be applied to various metal alloys used in aerospace, including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and titanium. 


Removes Marks And Scratches 

Gold plating offers exceptional protection against marks and scratches, surpassing other coatings. The gold layer is harder than the base metal, making it challenging to scratch. Although gold itself is relatively soft, when it is plated onto a surface, it forms a durable and resistant layer that shields against corrosion and wear. Moreover, the gold-plated surface provides excellent lubricity, reducing friction and minimizing wear on the underlying metal.


Protects Aircraft Metal 

Gold plating creates a protective barrier that shields the metal from oxidation and corrosion, preserving its integrity. The gold plating serves as a sacrificial layer, shielding the metal from scratches and wear. By prolonging the lifespan of the metal alloys, gold plating ensures the aircraft remains in pristine condition for an extended period. 


Prolongs Lifespan Of The Exterior 

Gold plating serves as a protective barrier against corrosion and oxidation by forming a thin layer over the surface. It prevents the components from deteriorating and breaking down over time. Additionally, it acts as a shield against scratches and marks that typically happen during regular use. This not only preserves the components’ appearance but also extends the lifespan of the exterior by protecting it from wear and tear.


Helps In Restoration 

Gold plating offers robust protection against the demanding conditions of the aerospace industry, including extreme temperatures, high-speed winds, and corrosive substances. Not only does gold plating safeguard metal components from corrosion and wear, but it also provides a glossy finish that enhances the overall appearance. 

By utilizing gold-plated components, you can restore the original shine of an aircraft’s exterior and repair damaged parts. The gold plating strengthens the aircraft’s metal alloys, enhancing their durability and longevity. 


Sustains Aircraft Metal Alloys 

Through the electroplating process, a thin layer of gold is applied to the metal alloy, effectively safeguarding it from tarnish and oxidation. This gold layer acts as a barrier, reducing the risk of corrosion due to environmental factors. 

Additionally, gold plating helps preserve the original appearance of the metal alloy by preventing surface scratches and marks. By maintaining the mechanical properties of the metal, the gold coating ensures the alloy remains strong and durable, preventing brittleness or weakness as time passes.

Ready to explore the benefits of gold plating for safeguarding your aerospace components against tarnish and corrosion? Contact us today to access expert gold plating services customized to perfectly meet your unique requirements!


Does Gold Plated Tarnish? 

While gold-plated surfaces offer significant resistance to tarnish, they can still be affected by it over time. Factors like air, humidity, and environmental elements can lead to fading, discoloration, or even gradual wearing off of the gold plating. To prevent tarnishing, it is important to regularly maintain and inspect gold-plated components for any signs of corrosion or damage. 


Does Gold Plated Tarnish?


Recommended Thickness Of Gold-Plated Components To Minimize Tarnish 

The thickness of the gold layer is crucial in determining its ability to resist tarnish, with a recommended range of 1 – 1.5 microns for aerospace applications. This range strikes a balance between effective protection and cost efficiency.

The ideal thickness of the gold plating depends on factors like the substrate material and the component’s environment. For example, components exposed to high humidity or extreme temperatures may require a thicker gold layer to ensure sufficient protection. Additionally, different alloys necessitate specific gold-plating thicknesses, with aluminum alloys typically requiring thicker layers than steel alloys.

However, it is important to avoid exceeding a thickness of 0.0005 inches (12.5 microns) for gold-plating. Excessive thickness can increase the risk of corrosion and incur higher costs without providing additional benefits.


How To Protect Aerospace Components From Tarnish? 

As these components soar through the skies, facing extreme temperatures, moisture, and corrosive substances, finding innovative ways to safeguard their integrity becomes a critical pursuit. Let’s delve into some of the most effective practices for protecting aerospace components from tarnish.


Regularly Cleaning The Aircraft Components

It’s important to clean the aircraft components on a consistent basis to prevent the accumulation of dirt, dust, and debris, which can lead to corrosion and wear on its exterior. To clean the aircraft components, use a mild soap and water solution, ensuring a thorough rinse afterward.

If the components have paint, opt for a non-abrasive cleaner and a gentle cloth to protect the paint. Conduct regular inspections to identify any signs of corrosion and promptly treat affected areas. Keeping accurate records and promptly reporting any issues to the appropriate personnel is essential for maintenance and safety.


Conduct Periodic Lubrication Of Components 

Periodic lubrication reduces friction, prevents wear and tear, and guards against dust and dirt that can lead to corrosion. Lubricate at least once a year, or more often as needed. When lubricating, choose the right lubricant for each component. 

Consider its properties, such as viscosity, based on factors like temperature and movement speed. Apply the correct amount to avoid excessive buildup. Before lubrication, ensure surfaces are clean. After lubricating, inspect for wear or damage and make necessary repairs.


Inspect For Corrosion And System Failures 

Corrosion and system failures can arise from inadequate maintenance, exposure to elements, or improper installation. Routine inspections are necessary to detect signs of corrosion, such as discoloration, flaking, or pitting on the metal surface, and system failures, including loose connections, faulty wiring, or malfunctions. 

It’s also vital to check for water damage and physical harm that can contribute to corrosion and system failures. By conducting regular inspections, potential issues can be identified early, enabling timely repairs and maintenance to enhance longevity and operational efficiency.


Promptly Treat Corrosion And Touch Up Damaged Paint 

To treat corrosion, identify its type and location for effective treatment. Common methods include using a wire brush to remove corrosion, applying a corrosion inhibitor, and applying fresh paint to the affected area. Thoroughly cleaning the area and applying a protective coating are also important to prevent future corrosion. Repairing damaged paint is essential for protecting aerospace components against corrosion. 


Maintain Accurate Records And Report Deficiencies 

Accurate records should contain detailed information about the component’s dimensions, materials, and other characteristics. Regular updates are necessary to ensure proper functioning, and any deficiencies should be immediately reported to prevent additional damage or malfunction. Regular inspections and maintenance help identify potential problems, and documenting component changes ensures compliance with aerospace regulations. 


Use Appropriate Materials, Equipment, And Trained Personnel 

To ensure the longevity of aerospace components, it is crucial to use suitable materials, equipment, and trained personnel. Well-trained personnel can inspect and repair components, identifying and addressing issues before they escalate. Selecting appropriate materials is vital, considering the specific environment in which they will be used. The right equipment, including cleaning supplies, lubricants, and protective coatings, should be chosen to ensure proper maintenance, preventing corrosion and damage. 


Keep Drain Holes Clear And Drain Fuel Sumps Daily 

Drain holes eliminate moisture, dirt, and debris from the aircraft, while fuel sumps collect excess fuel. To clear drain holes, inspect the aircraft regularly for blockages and remove them using a soft brush or cloth. 

Lubricating the drain holes regularly prevents dirt and debris buildup. For fuel sumps, drain them regularly by directing the fuel into a suitable container. Ensure that the fuel is completely drained until it is no longer visible. Clean and lubricate the fuel sumps afterward to prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris.


Treatment To Remove Tarnish 

There are several treatments available to eliminate tarnishes from gold-plated aerospace components. Here are some of them:



ACF-50, developed by ACF Chemicals Inc., is a water-dispersible aerosol corrosion inhibitor that safeguards aerospace components from tarnish. It effectively penetrates the metal, forming a protective barrier against corrosion, oxidation, scratches, and marks. 

ACF-50 is compatible with all metal alloys and possesses non-toxic, non-flammable, and non-corrosive properties. It is gentle on metal surfaces and can be easily applied manually or through automated processes. This versatile solution is highly recommended for use on aircraft, helicopters, and various aerospace components.



Abrasion is a technique employed in the aerospace industry to eliminate tarnish from gold-plated components. It involves gently rubbing a hard, abrasive material, such as a soft cloth or an abrasive pad, against the tarnished surface to restore the gold’s shine. 

This cost-effective and efficient method should be performed with caution to avoid excessive pressure that could result in scratches and harm the gold-plated surface. It is crucial to apply light pressure and stop the process immediately if any scratches appear.


Corrosion Inhibitor 

Corrosion inhibitors shield metal surfaces from rust and corrosion by forming a protective film that hinders oxidation and other corrosive reactions. They come in various types, including organic compounds like phosphates, phosphonates, and carboxylates, and inorganic compounds like nitrates, sulfates, and silicates.

They are often combined with other coatings for superior corrosion protection. Corrosion inhibitors are available as liquids or powders and can be customized to meet specific requirements.


Gold Plating Specifications Compliance 

Complying with gold plating specifications is crucial for aerospace components that need protection against tarnish and corrosion. The commonly used specifications for gold plating in aerospace are MIL-DTL-45204D and ASTM B488.



MIL-DTL-45204D is a US military standard that sets forth the guidelines for gold plating on aerospace components. It covers important aspects, such as the thickness and composition of the gold plating, and the surface finish of both the substrate and the gold plating itself. The standard also includes provisions for corrosion resistance, adhesion, and electrical properties of the gold plating. It ensures that the gold plating meets specific requirements for these properties. 


ASTM B488  

ASTM B488 sets standards for gold-plating aerospace components, covering thickness, composition, and corrosion resistance. It requires components to meet specific thickness ranges (0.25 um to 5.0 um) and gold purity (99.9% to 99.99%).3 Electrical property tests are also mandatory, including contact resistance, surface resistivity, and insulation resistance. Approved processes, materials, and equipment must be used to ensure compliance. 


Guarding Against Tarnish With Valence Gold Plating 

Valence gold plating is a specialized process used to safeguard aerospace components against tarnish. It involves a unique combination of metal alloys and compounds that provide long-lasting protection and a brilliant finish. Valence gold plating is highly durable, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, and protects against scratches and damage. It complies with MIL-DTL-45204D and ASTM B488 specifications, guaranteeing top-quality results.


Final Thoughts 

Gold plating is a highly effective solution for safeguarding aerospace components against tarnish and corrosion. Its remarkable resistance to tarnish, ability to withstand extreme temperatures, and capability to restore metal surfaces make it an ideal choice. Moreover, it extends the lifespan of alloys, providing cost-effective protection and minimizing maintenance efforts.

To achieve optimal results, it is important to carefully consider the plating thickness and adhere to industry standards such as MIL-DTL-45204D and ASTM B488. Regular maintenance plays a vital role in preserving the components and should encompass crucial tasks such as cleaning, lubrication, inspection, and prompt corrosion treatment.

Unlock the remarkable potential of gold plating to ensure unparalleled protection against tarnish and corrosion for your aerospace components, and experience their enduring excellence. Reach out to us today for a thorough evaluation of your chrome coating requirements and discover the ideal solution for your business!

Explore these blogs for more fascinating news and insights: 



How long do gold-plated components take to tarnish? 

Their susceptibility to tarnishing depends on the plating thickness and the surrounding environment. Typically, these components can remain untarnished for several years.


What is the difference between gold-plated and gold-dipped? 

Gold-plating is an electroplating method where a thin layer of gold is applied to a metal surface. In contrast, gold-dipping involves immersing the metal in molten gold. Gold plating is preferred in the aerospace industry due to its consistent and dependable results.


How much do gold-plated components cost? 

The cost of gold-plating components depends on their size and complexity. Typically, gold-plated components are pricier compared to silver-plated ones.


Is gold-plated better than silver-plated? 

Gold-plated components surpass silver-plated in their resistance to tarnish and corrosion. Moreover, gold-plating delivers a dependable and uniform finish, establishing its preference in the aerospace sector.


Are there disadvantages of gold-plating? 

The primary drawback of gold-plating is its higher cost compared to alternative plating methods. Repairing or refinishing gold-plated components is also challenging, as complete removal of the gold plating is necessary before any restoration can take place.



  1. How Gold Plating is Done, Step by Step. (2015, May 14). Analyzing Metals.
  2. Gold and Silver – The Noble Metals – Ganoksin Jewelry Making Community. (2016, December 9). Ganoksin.
  3. Fredericks, A. (2023, February 28). The Benefits and Allure of Gold Plating – Aerospace Metals.

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