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Build Your Own Barrel Plater

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  • Build Your Own Barrel Plater

    Seanc, a regular contributor on our forums and zinc plating expert has constructed a small, cost effective barrel plating machine to plate batches of parts without the need to wire each one up.

    See Plating Barrel | zinc plating

    As Sean stated:

    "I had hoped to get others involved in the technical aspects, perhaps come up w/some improvements or better methods/components. I'm sure with enough "bright minds" thinking about it, it could be improved significantly."
    --
    Lance Caswell
    Caswell Inc
    http://www.caswellplating.com
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  • #2
    Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

    Sean,
    Looks good and very creative. Questions, how do you maintain the temperature of the zinc bath? Question two where did you purchase the basket, motor, etc...
    Nol4154


    As Sean stated:

    "I had hoped to get others involved in the technical aspects, perhaps come up w/some improvements or better methods/components. I'm sure with enough "bright minds" thinking about it, it could be improved significantly."

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

      Originally posted by NOL4154 View Post
      Looks good and very creative.
      Thank you. It has some limitations, but works well enough.

      how do you maintain the temperature of the zinc bath?
      When needed, I use simple aquarium heaters.

      where did you purchase the basket, motor, etc...
      One of the design goals was that everything should be off-the-shelf at typical retail stores.

      While I did use some pieces that I had on-hand in my scrap bins (metal pendulum weights, plastic spacer bits, tie-wraps, copper braid, etc.), they could be bought cheap at any typical hardware store.

      The rotisserie motor I got off ebay, but again, could be bought locally (most likely at higher cost though).

      Everything else I purchased at local hardware & grocery stores.

      All outlined on the "How it's made" pages.

      Sean
      Seans Zinc Plating page

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

        On my last (and first) rotary plating exercise I used an old Skil hammer drill for the rotation. I'm sure it wouldn't have to be a hammer drill, but any drill that has a screw lock should work.

        Many drills will lock on at full speed with a button, and the larger drills that tend to have a lock button tend to go slower than the smaller ones (they're geared down more) and some have a screw lock. A screw lock model will have a lock button and a screw on the trigger so that it can be locked at any speed. My drill will reliably lock at incredibly slow speeds, from about 1 rpm to full speed (about 1500 rpm). Plus, any electrode attached to the metal gearcase (the front of the drill) also connects to anything chucked in the drill. I wouldn't rely on this for currents above about 5 amps (guess) but for my case at 300 ma, it worked great.

        Probably more expensive than the rotisserie, but the drill has other uses and is easier to connect to with the drill chuck. Harbor Freight may have a suitable drill for not much money. Considering what we're asking of the drill, any drill that can be locked at low speeds should work forever.

        Harbor Freights model 3670-1VGA should work for $20, but it doesn't have a metal gearcase to connect to. See page 11 of the manual to see the screw lock
        http://www.harborfreight.com/manuals/3000-3999/3670.pdf
        . It would rotate the basket though, however it would be harder to mount. If you need a metal gearcase model (to connect through) they probably have one, although I don't see one with a screw lock at first glance on their website.

        Just my $0.02.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

          That is a really nice system. I'm not familiar with barrel plating systems (pretty new at this). Does the dangler just connect to what falls on it? It just dangles in the area and connects by touching what's near it?

          Thanks!
          Keven

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

            Keven:
            ... Does the dangler just connect to what falls on it? It just dangles in the area and connects by touching what's near it?
            That's it!

            As long as the dangler makes contact with one piece, and the other pieces touch that first piece (and each other), current flows daisy-chain and the parts plate.

            It does need a minimum size pile of parts for any given size basket though. In my case, about 50-55 sq-in worth of nuts/bolts/washers. Any less and the dangler does lose contact occasionally.

            The drill motor is a good alternative! You'll have to post some photos of your setup.

            Sean
            Seans Zinc Plating page

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

              I'm a complete novice to this ..but is there a reason that the barrel has to turn..i would have thought that the "dangler" placed into the items would be sufficient...can you explain ..?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                Originally posted by Gixxerpat View Post
                I'm a complete novice to this ..but is there a reason that the barrel has to turn..i would have thought that the "dangler" placed into the items would be sufficient...can you explain ..?
                Electroplating is essentially "line-of-sight". Without tumbling, only the outer, exposed parts would plate.

                Sean
                Seans Zinc Plating page

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                  Got ya..thanx

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                    great set set up, makes me think about all the parts I would like to plate.
                    for contact to the parts I would have used a wire basket with a spring loaded connection even if the spring was the connector its self, however like you say about the dangler it would need striped from time to time and is more surface area. the next idea would be a plate dangler that would act as a dam in the basket so a part would always be against it. still more surface area in the tank and the positioning would have to be very accurate to keep parts from sliding under and jamming.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                      Hi Sean
                      I have made this barrel system with a few upgrades(not of the shelf,sorry)i own a small machine shop so it was easy to do this.i made the barrel out of delron and placed a small ring in the bottom.ran a wire through to a washer pressed into the other side this is the barrel.this assembly fits into a piece like you had the T of pvc accept there is a spring in there to conected to a wire going to the power supply .as you put the barrel into this the spring connects to the washer and you have connection . no need for the dangler.your idea is Great and this makes it better. O ya i was silver plating also and it works great
                      thanks you

                      john

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                        Originally posted by mk1a View Post
                        ...for contact to the parts I would have used a wire basket with a spring loaded connection...
                        A wire basket is problematic:
                        • they have massive surface area (often greater than the parts), which does get plated, so requires a lot more current, wastes anode zinc, and have to be stripped occasionally
                        • because they plate, they also shadow the parts, so parts don't plate as effectively, and require far more plating time
                        ... the next idea would be a plate dangler that would act as a dam in the basket so a part would always be against it...
                        Tried that too, and it doesn't work very good in a system this small. As you say, with very accurate and fixed positioning, it could work, but that complicates building & using the system. If you can figure out a good easy way, let us know!

                        Commercial systems use 2 types of dangler:
                        1. fully immersed w/in the mass of parts. These are thin and uniform so parts slide around & across w/out hanging up.
                        2. "floating": These are large enough (far larger than the parts), and shaped so that they ride on top of the parts mass.
                        Of course, those have immense barrels, 4-5 feet long, 2 feet diameter, so they've got room to play.

                        Sean
                        Seans Zinc Plating page

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                          John:
                          ...i made the barrel out of delron and placed a small ring in the bottom.ran a wire through to a washer pressed into the other side this is the barrel.this assembly fits into a piece like you had the T of pvc accept there is a spring in there to conected to a wire going to the power supply
                          Great idea!

                          I thought of slip-ring connections (eventually discarded them due to complexity), but hadn't considered putting it at the bottom! Any difficulties with stripping those parts occasionally?

                          Please post some photos!

                          Sean
                          Seans Zinc Plating page

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                            thanks for the reply Sean. your post just shoved ideas into my head. LOL
                            I like Johns (Ztech2) slip ring idea and would like to see pics also.

                            Steve

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

                              here is another that just popped in.
                              plasticdip the part of the wire basket that will be submerged, leaving the upper part above the solution to act as the slip ring.

                              remove the plasticdip around the bottom where the parts will contact (only on the inside). less surface area than a solid ring.

                              align the slip ring connection to the basket directly above where the parts ride, as tumbling, to focus the majority of the power ( amps per square inch) at the parts?

                              the next would be a material that is highly conductive but will repel (not allow adhesion) of the coating metal. maybe NASA can help with that one. I'm getting to far out now someone real me in. LOL have fun coating.

                              Comment

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