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Stripping and Masking Electroplating Racking

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  • Stripping and Masking Electroplating Racking

    Hello all,

    I’ve been using the Caswell a zinc copy cad kit to plate small steel brackets and hardware. I have a very basic set up and a 5 amp CC rectifier, zinc chloride plating tank, 5% HCl etch, and Yellow chromate. I’m happy with the results.

    I’ve been using copper wire hooks and slightly more elaborate racking for the parts that get the most repetition. I had a couple questions about masking and stripping my cooper racking.

    I used simple wire hooks through multiple plating cycles and noticed no difference in plating performance with multiple cycles/layers of zinc and chromate. For no compelling reason, I decided to strip the wire/racking using the Muriatic acid I had on hand, which aggressively stripped the zinc plating but left some black residue. It brushed off fairly easily with wire wheel or steel wool.

    Is there a better way to strip the plating that won’t leave the black residue on the copper?

    Is there really any reason to strip the zinc from the racks if the parts continue to rack and plate OK?

    In addition to the racks, I’m going to build a basket or mini barrel plater for small hardware batches and would like to selectively mask some of the conductive surfaces and was wondering what would be commonly available and practical masking materials for the inactive areas of the (copper) racking. Some of the candidates I have on hand are plastic dip (vinyl), Glyptol (enamel), and possibly lacquer.

    I’m less concerned about its durability as a mask and more concerned about preventing it from fouling the plating solution.
    The racking sees degreaser for 10-minute cycles, zinc chloride plating solution for 20 minute plating cycles, and very limited time exposure to 5% HCl and Chromate solution. Everything is room temp except degreaser which is 190F.

    Are any/all of those suitable masks?