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Silver is a metal that has a unique combination of properties. It is highly ductile and has the highest electrical conductivity. While silver is used in its pure form, it is often alloyed with copper.
The combination of these two metals is known for its excellent ductility and attractive colour. Copper-silver alloys have been in use for thousands of years. Although there are several types of alloys, most contain a majority of copper.
When silver-copper is used in a silver-plated copper component, it is important to select the proper thickness and underplate. This ensures that the final layer of silver adheres.
Silver and copper have an unusual relationship, despite their divergence from gold and zinc in 2011. Because of this, it can be difficult to accurately compare the two.
Typical grades of copper include Oxygen Free, Sulfur Bearing, and Beryllium. These are commonly used in manufacturing. However, other machinable coppers are also available. For instance, tellurium copper is an excellent machinable alloy, but it needs a special pretreatment before plating.
Some silver-plated copper components require an intermediate layer of nickel. Often, this is only required for specific specifications.
Traditionally, silver plating is achieved by using a paste containing silver salt. It is also called depletion silvering. Historically, this was used to plate instrument parts, reflectors for lanterns, and coffin hardware.
Today, the use of silver-copper alloys is growing in electronics. There are several alloys, and the composition of each is determined by the needs of the application.