Rieger Metallveredlung Blog – Luigi Galvani

Luigi Galvani

name giver of "Galvanotechnik" – electroplating

As our company name "Rieger Metallveredlung GmbH & Co. KG" says, we deal with the refining of metals. This involves the electrolytic deposition of metallic precipitates (coatings) onto substrates (metals in our case). This technology is in Germany called “Galvanotechnik”.

The history of “Galvanik”, as the “Galvanotechnik” technique is colloquially known, has its origins in the Italian physician Luigi Galvani. By coincidence on November 6, 1780, he discovered the galvanism named after him. Galvanism is a historical term for muscle contractions by electric current.

Galvani discovered muscle contraction through experiments with frog legs when exposed to copper and iron, with copper and iron attached to each other. So Galvani unknowingly made a circuit consisting of two different metals, an electrolyte ("saltwater" in the frog's thigh) and a "current indicator" (muscle). Galvani did not yet recognize these relationships, but he laid the groundwork for the development of electrochemical cells (also called Galvanic Cells or Galvanic Elements) by Alessandro Volta.

Thus, Luigi Galvani had discovered the basics of electrochemistry. In his honor, the surface technology, which serves to deposit metallic precipitates on substrates, was called in german language “Galvanotechnik”.

Electroplating technology meets us today in many areas of life. Decorative coatings such as chrome plating, nickel plating or gilding give many everyday objects a high-quality appearance. Functional coatings such as the anodizing of aluminium or the tin plating of copper allow the metals only for the application.

In addition to the artisanal application of electroplating, surface coating today also takes place in robot-assisted surroundings, for example at Rieger Metallveredlung.