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Copper Plating

Copper Platers recommendations?

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Chris V25/02/2020 23:30:16
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Hi Duncan, no I don't have one of those.

Turning in for tonight now

Cheers

Chris.

Neil Wyatt26/02/2020 12:11:54
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You need greater distance between electrode and work, the solution looks very strong, make sure the object to be plated is negative.

I would degrease then pickle in vinegar or any weak acid until pink, then rinse well in clean water before plating.

Neil

Dave Halford26/02/2020 14:05:09
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Posted by Chris V on 25/02/2020 19:24:36:

Thank you Dave, I didn't do anything I can remember like this at school so I'm a bit clueless i'm afraid.

What does +ve mean please, and by the electrolyte you mean the plating solution?

Chris.

Chris,

Success might depend on the water, you could try distilled in case dissolved lime in the water is causing the problem.

Chris V26/02/2020 14:28:59
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Thank you Neil & Dave.

I did wonder if the electrode was too close but had difficulty finding a container deep enough but not too large.

However having set up as I have I realised I can use a shallower container & fix through the hole I'm currently hanging the leaf from so that its horizontal.

Having decided I should remove the roughness achieved so far and struggling to remove it with Autosol (the surface is planished) I remembered I have some pickling salts and was trying that to see if it would help when your message came through Neil. The pickle did not remove the roughness so I will have to remove what I can at least on the outside with a polishing wheel.

What should I then use to degrease before pickling again, methylated spirits, turpentine??

I will then bin my solution and start again with a weaker mix. Presumably I should also pickle the electrode?

Seems this can be sheet copper as an alternative?

Can I use a plastic container rather than glass?

Yes we have hard water in Somerset. Would I buy distilled water at a chemist's?

Could I use rainwater instead?

Cheers

Chris.

V8Eng26/02/2020 14:51:08
1434 forum posts
28 photos

I have not done any copper plating since schooldays but Gateros Plating have a good problem help and tips page here:-

Gateros

Also supply stuff.

No connection to them just a happy customer.

Edited By V8Eng on 26/02/2020 14:54:20

SillyOldDuffer26/02/2020 17:36:02
5790 forum posts
1232 photos
Posted by V8Eng on 26/02/2020 14:51:08:

Gateros Plating have a good problem help and tips page here:-

Gateros

...

+1 to the Gateros advice. As Chris has discovered electo-plating isn't quite as easy as it seems.

To answer Chris's questions:

  1. Household Ammonia is an excellent degreaser, but it risks reacting undesirably with the Copper. It might leave a chemical layer capable of spoiling the plating. Instead, I'd try cleaning with very hot water with a dash of washing up liquid in it. Go over it first with a new stiff toothbrush and then rub well with a new Washup (sponge thingy with plastic scouring back) in a clean bowl. The water should be as hot as you can comfortably cope with whilst wearing thick washing up gloves - Marigold's. Then rinse with Methylated Spirits. Don't use turpentine, it's oily. Getting the metal thoroughly clean is really important, any suspicion repeat. I suppose being metal it could be boiled for half an hour!
  2. A plastic container is OK unless it gets hot.
  3. Sheet copper is an alternative, but Copper Pipe is easier to source. I'd use pipe.
  4. Don't buy Distilled Water - it's expensive. Instead buy De-ionized Water for topping up Car Batteries from Halfords or similar. Also sold somewhat more expensively by most super-markets for steam-irons, but don't buy the perfumed variety beloved by ladies. Plain water only. Rainwater is often recommended as pure, but beware! How was it collected? If off a roof, then don't use it. Water from a dehumidifier is good but only if the dehumidifier is clean.

Comments.

  • Don't bin the Copper Sulphate solution, if you want to dilute it just add water. No reason why it shouldn't be used good and strong though.
  • The solution should be slightly acid, Copper Sulphate needing Sulphuric Acid. Sulphuric Acid is controlled because it's an Explosives Precursor and is used in Acid Attacks, but I see it's sold as part of the Gateros Kit Copper Plating Kit. You might try Sodium BiSulphate instead. Lack of acid may be why you've not had good results so far.
  • The power supply may need attention:
    • Plating is an electrochemical process needing just enough volts (about 2v) to get the amps flowing. If too many volts are applied, the excess will produce Hydrogen and Oxygen as a by-product. The bubbles are unwanted - they cause intermittent plating as they form, leaving a spongy copper deposit that falls off.
    • Too few amps means the process will take a long time - be patient.
    • Too many amps may damage the copper deposit due to heating, causing bits to fall off.
    • Duncan's warning about Switch-mode supplies is important. Being intelligent devices they're likely to shutdown or reduce output if they detect an abnormal load - like a jar fill of Copper Sulphate Solution! Older wall-warts contain a transformer and are much less fussy. Transformer wall-warts are distinctly heavy so look for one of them.
    • One way of losing excess volts if needed is to pass the current through a second jar of Copper Sulphate solution with two copper electrode. The current can also be controlled by altering how deep one of the electrodes is in this jar (to reduce bubbles).
  • Other factor is the need to agitate the object being plated to remove bubbles and keep the electrolyte near the object fresh by stirring it.
  • Sorry to rain on the parade, but the idea may not work. Plating depends in part on the metal being plated, in this case a mix of copper and a soldered joint. I don't know how well, or not, Copper will stick to solder. It's worth a try though!

Don't give up.

Dave

Jouke van der Veen26/02/2020 17:42:18
52 forum posts
7 photos

Gasoline, white spirit and IPA are good degreasers but after that a proper pickling step is still needed.

The copper sulphate can be dissolved in de-ionized water (water for car batteries) instead of destilled water.

Edited By Jouke van der Veen on 26/02/2020 17:43:06

Chris V26/02/2020 19:22:55
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Thank you to all above. Yes actually I found Gateros last night and after having a read thought I might as well give up! Not that I don't agree though, there is lots of info and only by persisting will I learn.

My original posting was where can I get this done ie recommendations, but I will try again. But I'm looking to spend very little initially to see if I can get a result. So I'm liking the idea of using a battery at least to start with.

Thank you for clarifying regarding Switch-mode. Its silver solder and the plating that did adhere seemed to colour the solder ok, so I'm hopeful regarding that.

I will have to wait till next week to get out to buy some de-ionized water before trying again. Thank you for explaining what its used for and where to obtain it!

I think it was on the Gateros site I read about a milky deposit which I had in places. This being an indicator that the solution is contaminated. If that's the case presumably starting a new mix ie binning the existing would be best?

I have more copper sheet than tube so that's helpful, as is knowing I can use a plastic vessel, this will enable the electrode to be further away as I have something more suitable.

Thank you again all for your input. I will try again next week.

Cheers

Chris.

Jouke van der Veen26/02/2020 20:27:37
52 forum posts
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Further current density is an important parameter. This means the amount of Amps/cm2 for the part to be plated. I do not know the amount. Using a battery or a different power supply, you should be able to regulate current. Conductivity of the plating liquid, determined by concentration and pH, plays a role in this.

fizzy26/02/2020 20:49:11
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After soaking a great many boilers in my Suphuric acid bath pretty much everything I put in there comes out with a liberal coating of copper without any additional charge being added. It can make an old manky boiler look like an absolutely new one after a couple of days! I have a plating bath and over the years have plated lots of things. A mistake many people make is too many volts and amps. Low volts, low amps and plenty of time works for me. I used to use an aquatium water heater to help things along but turns out thet arent acid proof for long.

Neil Wyatt27/02/2020 15:25:37
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Posted by Chris V on 26/02/2020 14:28:59:

What should I then use to degrease before pickling again, methylated spirits, turpentine??

Washing soda?

Neil.

Chris V27/02/2020 15:59:05
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Thanks Neil, good to have several options!

Chris.

Dave Halford27/02/2020 17:23:57
757 forum posts
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Chris,

From your original post I suspect many platers still in business exist to plate taps etc and as such don't plate with copper, just nickel and chrome. What you would need is someone who does car bumpers, but I have not seen one who offers a postal service.

Don't forget plating is only as good as the finish you start with so your item will need to be mirror shiny to start with.

Tim Stevens27/02/2020 17:47:18
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1170 forum posts

If you are plating with a copper electrode on one side and the workpiece on the other, the solution (of coppoer sulphate) will stay as it is during the process, so you can bottle it and use it next time. Using anything else (such as a paint brush) will have two effects - first the copper in the solution will become impure as metals from the brush etc are dissolved, so it won't work so well next time, and secondly, the plating will not be pure copper and so might not stick or look pretty.

Use distilled water (or de-ionised - eg from a dehumidifier) and avoid contacting the solution with anything metal (except pure copper) for best results. Do not, eg, use an old kitchen spoon to measure out the crystals; a plastic spoon is OK though.

Finally, do not use too high a voltage - best to use a charger or a torch battery, at 3 volts. 12v might look quicker but will it stick?

Cheers, Tim

Chris V27/02/2020 19:26:13
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Thanks Tim, more good tips and yes i'm going to try next with 2 x 1.5v batteries.

Cheers

Chris.

Howard Lewis28/02/2020 18:46:53
3281 forum posts
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If you are using primary cells, use hte biggest that you can get. But even D cells may not last too long before becoming exhausted.

Might be better to strap several together in series /parallel to give 3 volts and a gretar capacity.

Howard

Chris V29/02/2020 17:30:38
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Thanks Howard, yes my plan is to link 2 together,

Cheers

Chris.

SillyOldDuffer29/02/2020 18:12:59
5790 forum posts
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Posted by Chris V on 29/02/2020 17:30:38:

Thanks Howard, yes my plan is to link 2 together,

Cheers

Chris.

Primary cells are pricey: From 'Solved examples in Electrochemistry - Example 10'

0.2964 g of copper was deposited on passage of a
 current of 0.5 ampere for 30 minutes

Not much copper will be deposited by a D-Cell! An ordinary Alkaline cell is about 1.5 Amp Hour capacity, meaning it will deposit about 1.8g of copper spread evenly over the immersed area, and cost about £2. (Actually unlikely to empty the battery because the voltage will drop as it discharges.) Could get expensive if it takes several attempts to get the process right and a decent thickness of copper is wanted. Electricity from a power supply is much cheaper - mains electricity is about 13p per kWHour, enough to electroplate at 1000A at 1V for an hour.

Dave

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 29/02/2020 18:14:43

Jouke van der Veen29/02/2020 19:51:55
52 forum posts
7 photos

Chris,

Go to PF Products Finishing (pfonline.com) and search there for copper electroplating.

They give a lot of information about plating conditions. Also for plating in a copper sulphate electrolyte.

You find there parameters like concentration, voltage and current density.

Joseph Noci 101/03/2020 07:49:24
671 forum posts
890 photos

Yet another one..

**LINK**

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