Revised Sept.10, 2009
Plating offers many job opportunities to have your own business and to be self employed at a low investment. There are many different ways to make money in plating. Some people like to specialize by offering their service to specific fields while others want to plate everything that comes along. If you work in a certain field, it takes less equipment and chemicals then people that do it all. Also some people want to work in a certain field that they are familiar with such as restoring cars and motorcycles or plating, re-plating and manufacturing jewelry. I find that a lot of our customers start out plating everything but eventually finding a niche that either is easier to find customers or they find that they like to plate certain types of things such as non-metallics and such from nature. We have also seen customers start by plating only certain items and then after they make some money they expand to a larger operation plating other items increasing their income.
In today's economical conditions a lot of manufacturer's want to do their own plating in house to save both time and money. Some are looking for someone locally to do their plating and save the shipping time by not going out of their area.
Some of ways that our customers make their living plating include:
Jewelry. There are many ways to make money in the jewelry field with plating. They include re-plating old costume or antique jewelry, Manufacturing jewelry or making jewelry from a world of natures beautiful items.
Many of the old pieces of jewelry when worn a lot will show wear or the loss of plating on them. Even though we may not feel like they are worth much, they are very valuable to the person that owns them. Some of reasons being that they were given to them by a late husband, mother, son or some friend and they want to keep them and wear them because of the sentimental value. I used to do a jewelry show in one of the bigger hotels in DC. on the same date every year. A woman who lived in the hotel used to wait for me to come back every year and she would hand me a bag of costume jewelry to re-plate. Some of the pieces I re-plated over several times because of the heavy wear. Even though they weren't valuable items to any body else items they were valuable to her.
Today with the cost of gold and silver skyrocketing, Many manufacturers have switched to making there jewelry out of some lower cost metal and gold or silver plating over the the low cost metal. I have seen this trend in everything from bead findings to pendants and earrings. At Flea Markets around the country there are many people selling chain by the inch or other types of chain. They guarantee them for " a lifetime" although no plating that is worn every day will last that long. Plating can be very durable if done right but some manufactures will scrimp on the amount of plating they put on the piece. Since these dealers have to replace some of the chain that they sell, they are prime customers for someone to re-plate them or for them to have their own equipment.
Probably the biggest money maker is by electroforming items from nature. Electroforming is the plating of non-metallics. I am sure that many of you have seen leaves and sea shells electroformed in gold and silver and wondered how they did them. The nice part about making jewelry by electroforming is the low cost and the availability of free items from nature. Some of these items include acorns, sea horses, sea shells, sand dollars, flowers, parsley, lettuce and many other beautiful items from nature.
Gold Plating Car Emblems. This has been a full time business for many people. In our area alone there are 3 people doing this as a full time business. It can also be used together with other car services such as detailing, striping or mounting of accessories. Keep in mind that used car dealers at times will need emblems re-plated to freshen up the emblems. This is often an over looked business.
Restoring Cars and Motorcycles. A big part of our business is selling to shops and hobbyists that want to re-chrome their cars and motorcycles. Also many small companies have been formed just to refinish items for their friends and club members.
Stain Glass. Many stain glass makers or people who resell stain glass like to plate the foil or lead cane around the glass to improve the appearance. Copper plating over the copper foil will also hide the solder that was used to put them together. Nickel and gold are the other popular finishes.
Golfer's. One of our customers makes his complete living by gold plating the shafts on golf clubs. He started doing it for his friends and soon it became a full time business by gold plating clubs for the pro shops and stores as well as plating golf clubs that are used as trophy's or prizes in tournaments. If you get a "Hole in One" he also will gold plate the golf ball and mount it on a wooden plaque with the date and hole of the golf course that it was made on.
Shafts. Building up worn or scratched shafts for motors and printing presses is another lucrative business.
Church Items. silver objects that are used in Communion as well as alter items such as crosses and such can be re-plated in gold and silver. One of my customers live in a remote mountain area of North Carolina and operates this type of business by mail order. He started his business in New York but he got tired of the crowd.
Silver plating in the electronic industry. Electrical connections and bus bars have a better continuity when they are silver plated. Even large electrical utility companies use our equipment to silver plate their large bus bars.
Baby Shoes. The plating of baby shoes is still very popular around the world. The shoes can be finished in copper, nickel or gold depending on what finish your customer wants.
Silver Dinnerware. A lot of people have silverware that is worn and needs re-plating. One of our customer travels the country doing shows in shopping malls and advertises to re-plate silverware while he is in town. Plating silver on the items is done in so little time that they can usually do it while the customer is shopping. Many restaurants have items that need to be re-plated in silver.
Electroforming Flowers. Some of my customers will electroform flowers from weddings, proms and even funerals for people will want them for a keepsake. This way they have an item that will last forever. When I was dating my wife I gave her a rose that I had electroformed in gold and she still keeps it on display in our home.
Guns. Re-plating guns is a great business that doesn't require a large investment. You don't even need a lot of knowledge about guns as they are brush plated without taking them apart. A lot of shooters like to have their gun sights plated in gold as it makes it easier to pick-up your line of sight on the object that you are aiming at.
Police badges. The plating of police or fireman badges in gold or nickel can be a great business if you are looking for something part time.
Fishing Lures. The making of fishing lures and then plating them in what ever finish the fish are biting on. Different finishes such as nickel or gold are used depending on type of fish and the condition of the light. Check your bait shops to see the different finishes used.
Odd Items. There are many items that people like to keep for the memories that can be plated or electroformed to preserve them. I have a customer that electroforms on cigars and sells them to cigar shops for display. He takes the band off of the cigar and after electroforming it and finishing it in gold, he puts the band back on and displays it in a the cigar box from that brand. He fills the box with material to make a pillow effect and mounts the cigar on top. Just about anything can be electroformed, let your imagination run wild.
Local Festivals and Seasonal items. If your area has a local festival that features something that is common to the area you can electroform that type of item and sell them at the festival. Items that are popular include shrimp for shrimp festivals, Leaves such as in Colorado where aspen leaves are popular. One of my customers electroforms okra for their festival. There are many such festivals around the country. If you electroformed 4 leaf clover for Saint Patrick day you could sell enough to take the rest of the year off. Especially in areas like Boston or Chicago. Mistletoe and Holly leaves are great seller at Christmas time. Are you starting to get the idea of the many items that can be made into a business.
Manufacturers. Many manufacturers make small runs of products that need to be plated and large plater's don't want to be bothered with small limited amounts. But it can be a wind fall for small businesses. When Dalmar Mfg. Co. started it was started with the idea of catering to beginners and small business that the larger companies didn't want to bother with and we have been in business for 37 years on this principle. A lot of manufacturers have a problem with pieces that are plated by an outside source but have been scratched or need touch-up in some way. They hate the waste the time sending the piece back and would like to re-plate or touch-up the pieces their self. A small brush plating kit is all that they need to do this job in house.
The opportunities are endless.