999.5 pure silver and Made in Italy
The silversmith tradition marked a constant evolution, leading the company to distinguish itself in the international panorama for the quality and the style of its silverplated production. Since 1938, Sambonet has been developing the most innovative technologies to work with stainless steel, achieving its silverplating process using the exclusive technique H§P Hard Sambonet Silverplating, that offers longer durability and resistance to the coating compared to the traditional silverplating. The in-house process has been developed and improved in many years, using a fully automated galvanic electroplating cycle alongside a manual process reserved to the most delicate and precious pieces. For both automatic and manual, the pieces are immersed in a silver salts solutions.
The silverplating process is divided in two phases: the first one aims to eliminate every kind of residual material from previous procedures and properly prepare the item for the actual silverplating process, done in the second part of the cycle. “The first step is a degreasing with ultrasound generator, that acts on the dirt particles with high frequency vibrations in order to detach them from the item, even from the most complex parts” – explains Marco Perino, responsible of the department. The second and the third degreases arecathodic and anodic, needed to eliminated every last impurity from the surface. Then the surface is completely clean, guaranteeing the high quality of the silver deposition.
The pieces are then put into a quick pre-silverplating process, that will chemically activate the reaction of bounding between steel and silver, and, finally, the process of actual silverplating starts, using two solutions with a growing silver content.
Both automatic and manual process requires the use of special frames, internally designed, to hold different kinds of objects. The frame ensures a very little contact surface between itself and the pieces and, with the motion during the process, guarantees the 100% of the surfaces silverplated. “When we talk about flatware and spoons in particular” – Marco continues – “ the silver thickness of the layer is intentionally increased in the areas that will stay in contact with the table, such as the back of the cup of the spoon and the bottom of the handles. For the knives, instead, the blade is covered with an isolating paint or assembled later, because it is not silverplated in order to maintain its cutting property.” The handle, during the immersion, is held up only in the spot in which “sbt” mark is impressed. The entire cycle lasts one hour and the maximum production is 10.000 pieces of flatware for turn.
Blades during the preparation with isolating paint
The manual silverplating is used for small flatware batches, for most of the holloware and for the most refined and delicate pieces. Thanks to the excellent work of the operators, the pieces are accurately handled in order to avoid the presence of air bubbles and imperfections. Once the process is done, there is a reinforcement of the concavities, that consists in a second silverplating aimed to protect the surfaces usually more subjected to wear.
Drying of some pieces
A special X-ray machine allows to verify the layer thickness, that has to respect specific standards.
All the pieces, from holloware to flatware, are then polished. Some specialized operators manage this phase, for which a great ability is required. Every product is finally subjected to a strict quality control, in which a minimum imperfection is enough to reject the product, and then to the vacuum-sealed packing, that preserves the material from oxidation for years.
“The department is made up by around 15 people” – Marco concludes. “Of course, the ones in charge for the manual process have a great ability and experience. It’s a really hard work, but it is fully rewarded by the satisfaction of seeing the piece transforming and becoming something else under your eyes.”