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Thread: Copper plating non-conductive material

  1. #1
    Hockeydemon is offline New User
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    Jun 2013

    Default Copper plating non-conductive material

    This will be my first go at electroplating, and I am aware that plating to a non-conductive material is not easy. That being said one of my majors (undergrad) is biochemistry, and I took a class on electrochemistry awhile back. Not that it's overly relevant, but I do have a decent theoretical understanding of what's going on.

    I would like to copper plateicon some sand dollars I picked up at the ocean. I would also like to buy the least amount of things possible - I'm a poor college student. I have a large car battery charger that runs 12v/10amp,40amp & 100amp charges (It is possible the 10amp runs at 6v but I need to check). The total surface area of the sand dollar is ~14-20sq".

    I was going to seal the sand dollar in "Rust-Oleum Specialty 11 oz. Specialty Lacquer Spray Paint" from home depot. It is highly resistant to acid, and should provide a nice protective coat (suggestions?). I was going to make the sand dollar conductive by picking up some PCB (circuit board) graphite paint (or silver?) from radioshack. I was going to comprise my electrolyte solution using this stoichiometric ratio: 1.25 CuSO4· 5 H2O + .467 H2SO4 (200g,90mL,25mL) - diluted with DI water to 1L. I was going to use copper piping for the anode - would you suggest a bath in sulfuric acid in order to clean up possible impurities? I was going to use stump removed for my source of copper(II) sulfate - should I make an attempt to purify this before hand or would using a 'dummy cathode' initially suffice?

    Assuming all of that sounds reasonable.. I need to figure out how many/what kind of bulb systemicon I should have - if one is even needed. Suggestions would be much appreciated.

    I'll gladly provide any additional information that I might have left out.

    Thanks in advanced.

  2. #2
    Hockeydemon is offline New User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Default Re: Copper plating non-conductive material

    I've been looking around at a way to make the non-conductive material conductive, and I might have found a way to chemically deposit silver ions onto most any material. If I dissolve silver bullion in nitric acid to form silver nitrate. I can then make a 'silvering solution' by combining silver nitrate, house hold ammonia, sugar, and sodium hydroxide. Once the solution is prepared if you heat it to a near boil, while the material is in it the Ag+ ions deposit onto anything that they can. It gives a pretty cool mirror on anything that it happens to come in contact with.

    That being said I was considering seeing how resistant my lacquer is to dilute hydroxide. If it can with stand it then I will probably go this route because 1 silver bullion is ~$30, and can silver quite a bit of material.

    I still am unsure of my power source though. Electricity is not my forte - though I've been doing my best to learn about resistors, transformers, conductors ect.. If my car charger runs at 12V 2amp trickle charge how do I drop the voltage down?

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