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Copper Plating

Copper Platers recommendations?

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Chris V16/02/2020 17:11:59
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150 forum posts
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Can anybody recommend please any copper plating companies that are happy to take on small one off like jobs at a reasonable cost?

It does not matter where in the UK as happy to post the parts.

Cheers

Chris.

John Baron16/02/2020 18:54:09
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169 forum posts
62 photos

Hi Chris,

You can copper plate steel quite easily yourself. Just buy some "Copper Sulphate" dissolve in water and submerge your part.

In the old days it was a nuisance if you forgot and left your tweezers in the solution, by the following day they had started to get a copper coating. You can electroplate it as well using the same solution.

 

Edited By John Baron on 16/02/2020 18:54:51

Chris V16/02/2020 19:15:46
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Thank you John, that's most interesting.

I don't suppose there's such a simple sounding soloution for copper plating on copper?

It's to disguise a silver soldered repair.

Cheers

Chris.

John Baron16/02/2020 20:57:06
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169 forum posts
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Hi Chris,

That is a good question ! I've never considered whether copper would plate onto copper. I imagine it would, but you probably wouldn't be able to see it other than on a different metal.

Just as a point of interest, printed circuit etching, where the copper is etched away using ferric chloride, the solution that remains contains all the copper that is removed. I've seen that solution used to electroplate steel and then used to have chrome plated onto that. So that could be a second method that you could use. But beware that ferric chloride will very quickly eat any copper it gets into contact with when disposing of it ! So don't pour it down the sink. I used to get rid of mine by soaking wood chippings with it and then binning the fairly dry residue.

A thought has just occurred to me, you could use a paint brush to try it on a small part of the item you want to plate.

 

Edited By John Baron on 16/02/2020 20:59:39

Paul Lousick16/02/2020 21:53:03
1318 forum posts
525 photos

Electro Brush Plating is a method of applying a metal coating to smaller areas using a brush/wand and an electric current.

**LINK**

Steviegtr17/02/2020 00:29:32
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792 forum posts
180 photos

Any chrome platers should do it for you. It is part of the chrome plating process on most materials.

Steve.

Joseph Noci 117/02/2020 06:17:33
599 forum posts
859 photos
Posted by John Baron on 16/02/2020 20:57:06:

Hi Chris,

That is a good question ! I've never considered whether copper would plate onto copper. I imagine it would, but you probably wouldn't be able to see it other than on a different metal.

Just as a point of interest, printed circuit etching,.........

Edited By John Baron on 16/02/2020 20:59:39

And it is precisely in that industry where large scale copper on copper plating takes place.

To make through hole plated boards,the PCB is is first dipped in a catalyst, dried, and then into an electroless copper solution, which deposits copper onto the board and into the non-conducting through holes. Then normal electrolytic copper plating thereafter.

The electroless solution was always tricky - a bit of foreign material, dust, etc would set the darn thing off and it would plate out into the container within hours!

Joe

John Baron17/02/2020 08:15:01
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169 forum posts
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Hi Joe, Guys,

Thanks for your interesting post. I always thought that they used tiny hollow rivets for through holes !

Now I know.thumbs up

Chris V17/02/2020 09:46:00
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150 forum posts
19 photos

Good morning all and thank you for these comments.

Yes Steve I'm aware most platers copper plate first, however Ive generally had bad experiences with commercial platers.

John you got me thinking, well Googling a little, and its something I will try at home. The utube clips & available home kits I looked at all used batteries but from the sound of it you just left the metal to be plated in the soloution and waited for it to do its thing?

I will have to do some more research but am keen to have a go if its not too complicated.

Cheers

Chris.

duncan webster17/02/2020 11:14:10
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2425 forum posts
39 photos

I suspect the method without a power supply relies on the different electrochemical potential between iron (from the steel) and copper

Iron has a potential of -0.04, copper -0.36, silver -0.69, so I suspect you'll have to use some power. Of course this might be complete tosh, but it will then flush out someone who really knows

Jouke van der Veen17/02/2020 12:46:17
31 forum posts
6 photos

you can plate steel with copper in a copper sulphate solution but the process stops as soon as all steel surface is covered with copper. The process is an exchange of iron ions going into solution and the more noble copper ions deposit on the surface. You get only very thin layers, prior cleaning is essential and adherence is not so good. So, it a not an electroless plating process in which the process continues after complete coverage, e.g. like electroless Ni(P).

Plating with copper in copper sulphate could be used to check if a cleaning process or pickling process of steel is good enough. If cleaning is not OK you may get a stainy copper coverage. Of course this test is done on cleaned test samples and not on the parts to be coated in a next step.

As Duncan just said!

Edited By Jouke van der Veen on 17/02/2020 12:48:24

Edited By Jouke van der Veen on 17/02/2020 12:49:44

Joseph Noci 117/02/2020 12:50:02
599 forum posts
859 photos
Posted by duncan webster on 17/02/2020 11:14:10:

I suspect the method without a power supply relies on the different electrochemical potential between iron (from the steel) and copper

In the Electroless Copper plating method for PCB's, the plating solutions are typically a Copper suphate solution with sodium hydroxide (trace qty) and glyoxylic acid as a reducing agent. A monoamine is then used as an accelerator to kick off the plating process - no power involved in this process. This process is almost always only used to provide a very thin conductive layer on the material, and thickened up by normal electrolytic plating.

Your idea of different electro-potentials must be valid though - having also played wit copper iron saturated Ferric Chloride solutions, wiping a rag, soaked in the stuff, across clean steel, left a visible copper sheen..

Joe

Chris V17/02/2020 16:48:18
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150 forum posts
19 photos

Ok many thanks, I shall investigate further kits with batteries!

Cheers

Chris.

John Baron17/02/2020 20:27:45
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169 forum posts
62 photos

Hi Chris, Guys,

I don't think that I would bother with buying a kit ! All you need is an old wall wart and some suitable solution. Either some copper sulphate from a chemists or some ferric chloride and a bit of copper tube to dissolve in it. Since it seems that a paint brush connected the right way round, I can't remember if it should be positive with respect to the item you want to plate, dipped in the solution will do it.

Chris V18/02/2020 10:07:46
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150 forum posts
19 photos

Hi John,

Thanks for this.

Google tells me an old wall wart is what we plug into the wall socket and then into the blood pressure monitor to convert from 240v to 6v, presume thats what you mean? The 6v end has a moulded plug, presume this would need splitting into two? cable leads?

Copper Sulphate yes on eBay no bother and cheap enough.

You lost me after that though?

I'd want to dip my parts to be plated.

Cheers

Chris.

Chris V18/02/2020 10:20:36
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150 forum posts
19 photos

Ah, just found an adaptor to fit on the end that you can plug two individual cables into, and its 12V not 6v.

Chris.

John Baron18/02/2020 12:21:34
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169 forum posts
62 photos

Hi Chris,

Yes that will work, as would any low voltage source. Old type car battery charger, computer PSU etc.

Sorry if I wasn't clear about the paint brush !

One wire would be soldered to the metal bit on the paint brush and the other would go to the workpiece. Dip the brush in the solution and use it to paint the copper onto the part. You do have to get the polarity correct though.

If you are dipping the whole part into a solution then you would use an electrode placed in the tank and the other connection to the work. The electrical path is through the copper sulphate solution. Its the current flow that does the work.

Ian S C18/02/2020 12:25:22
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7468 forum posts
230 photos

I would suggestyou go to the garden shop for the copper sulphate, it will be a lot cheaper than at the Chemist.

Ian S C

Chris V18/02/2020 19:05:51
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150 forum posts
19 photos

Thanks John & Ian.

Ok Google also taught me what an electrode is/for, seems a bit of copper tubing will do the trick.

So as I understand you if dipping the object to be plated, that will always have one wire attached to it, and the other wire to the electrode. So indirectly both + & - wires are going into the solution?

If the power source is giving out 12V does that mean I'd get 12v worth of electric shock if I put my hand in?

Also, does say 12V work quicker than say 3V? ( I saw one clip using a couple of batteries)

Perhaps you need more Volts if the tank is holding more solution?

Some clips suggest making the solution hot to work quicker I think,.... Ok but once it gets cool not sure about reheating, or if indeed that's really necessary if time is not so important?

Cheers

Chris.

John Baron18/02/2020 19:58:57
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169 forum posts
62 photos

Hi Chris, Guys,

I had to go and Google to remember which electrode should be connected to the positive pole of the power supply ! Its the copper one in the solution. The work piece is connected to the negative wire.

If you are submerging the work in the solution, it needs to be suspended so that it cannot touch anything other than the solution. Normally you would use a wooden bar or stick across the container and a copper wire connected to the negative pole to suspend the work.

The stronger the copper sulphate solution is, the more quickly the work will plate. Also the more conductive the solution the higher the current for any given voltage. Using a car battery charger with a built in ammeter will give you an instant indication. Anything around a couple of amps will be fine. A useful way of getting to this point, is to make a weak solution and then add more copper sulphate until you have the current you want. Obviously you need to agitate the solution to mix and dissolve the crystals.

Adding hot water will help the crystals dissolve more quickly, but as far as I am aware won't make the plating go any faster.

 

 

 

 

Edited By John Baron on 18/02/2020 20:03:04

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