How to Choose the Right Rectifier

This article reviews five different rectifiers and discusses how to choose the right one for your shop.

Last edited: 10/18/2019
Midas six station plating system

How to Choose the Right Rectifier

You want to start plating, anodizing, electroforming or e-coating jewelry, and you’ve been told you need a rectifier. You’re thinking, “What on earth is a rectifier and why do I need one?” Let me see if I can help break down what a rectifier does and clarify the different types that are available.

Rectifiers are used to convert AC, or alternating current, to DC, or direct current. Having a DC power supply ensures a steady, unidirectional power flow that is essential to effective plating and allows jewelers, specifically, to electroplate, electroform, electrocoat, and anodize metals safely and with reliable results.

Power supplies (aka: rectifiers) come in all shapes and sizes. Most rectifiers have a display readout for voltage and for current (or amperage); newer rectifiers have digital controls, while older ones have a dial and are not as precise. Rectifiers also have a positive (red) and negative (black) port to connect your leads to the power supply.

Digital 3-amp plating rectifier

Digital 3-Amp Plating Rectifier

For basic, small-scale electroplating, a 3-amp rectifier will work well. The digital 3-amp plating rectifier allows the operator to control the voltage (0-15 volts) and the amperage (0-3 amps). This piece of equipment will allow you to plate up to 16 square inches of surface area. It is not recommended for plating larger pieces or multiple pieces.

Digital 5-amp plating rectifier

Digital 5-Amp Plating Rectifier

A 5-amp rectifier, such as this digital 5-amp plating rectifier, is appropriate if you need to plate more surface area, up to 70 square inches. The digital 5-amp plating rectifier is controllable from 1-20 volts and provides 1-5 amps. It is ideal for electroplating. Because it allows you to limit the current value, it also works great electroforming processes.

Digital 20-amp plating rectifier

Digital 20-Amp Plating Rectifier

A larger rectifier is recommended if you are plating multiple pieces or if a larger bath is being operated. The Volteq Digital 20-Amp Plating Rectifier allows for larger bath operation. With a maximum of 15 volts and 20 amps, it can handle almost any plating need.

Digital 60-volt rectifier for Kliar e-coating

Digital 60-volt rectifier for e-coating

Specialty rectifiers, such as the digital 60-volt rectifier for Kliar e-coating and the SMT Micro Anodizer, are designed for specific processes but will not work for others due to their limited voltage and/or current.

The digital 60-volt rectifier for Kliar e-coating sounds like it is more powerful than most of the other rectifiers, but that is not the case. While it is true this rectifier can output 60 volts, it can produce a maximum of just 3 amps. It is intended to allow you to successfully perform e-coating applications, which require higher voltages (optimally 50-60 volts) and lower amps. (You can electroplate with this rectifier if your bath requires 3 amps.)

SMT Micro Anodizer

SMT Micro Anodizer

The SMT micro anodizer, on the other hand, has a variable voltage of 0–110 volts with only 1 amp. This rectifier will not work well for electroplating but is perfect for anodizing reactive metals such as titanium and niobium.

Based on your processes, there is a rectifier perfectly suited to your needs. Got a question? Not sure which is right for your operations? We’re here for you. Just give us a call and ask to speak to the Rio Grande Jewelry Tech Team.