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Money doesn't grow on trees [trust me!!]

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  • Money doesn't grow on trees [trust me!!]

    We have some plating issues. We're amateurs. A few quick questions:

    1. Is it possible to dilute the copper solution to the point where the mild sulphuric acid it contains will not detach the copper atoms from a copper anode? Our understanding is that the sulphuric acid that's placed in copper solution is what helps detach the copper atoms from the copper anode. We also understand that the anode is negatively charged, and the cathode is positively charged, thus causing the attraction of the copper atoms [in our case] to the cathode. Our cathodes are tree leaves that have been painted with CCP (conductive coating paint)

    2. Is there any way to speed up a plating session. Our plating takes 8-9 hours. We're told that if we go any faster then we won't get the fine definition of the tree leaves (their veins and other characteristics). But we'd like to get it down to 6 hrs.

    Believe me, I have more questions. I hope someone cal help us out with these two.

  • #2
    Anodes are allways positive and cathodes are allways negative (that's what anode and cathode means). In plating the positive is on the "anode" plate and the part is the cathode(neg). I hope that was a typo.
    What kind of copper are you using? Acid copper should have about 1/16 to 1/8" after one hour. Flash copper is .005"(I don't remember the exact number) after one hour. I've never heard of plating for 8 hours. How many amps/sqin are you plating at? Copper is 1amp/16sqin


    • #3
      Acid Copper Plating Time

      Hello...This is my first post, although I've been scouraging the Forum now for a solid week until my eyeballs start screaming for rest

      My primary interest, too, is Acid Copper Plating of Non-Metallics.

      It's been my understanding that 24-square inches required 2-1/2 amps for plating time of 8-hours...or 1-amp for 24-hours for the proper buildup...which would be equivalent.

      If you guys want to correspond by E-Mail (or anyone else with these interests) please feel free to contact me at any glad to hear from you to exchange experiences.

      You can also connect to me on MSN Messenger if you like, for live talking...just make me your Buddy and I'll accept it.

      Okay...that's my story...and I'm stickin' to it [always wanted to say 'that' ]..Take care.

      - etcc
      - etcc
      "1,200 Year Old Highlander Immortal"


      • #4
        Reply to fxstcguy98

        Thanks for replying. I read on the Internet, and was also told, that the "rule of thumb," in our case, is to plate at 1/10th amp/sqin of cathode when plating with copper. You said that it should be 1/16th amp/sqin. What would the difference in the two settings? Speed? What? Less amps, I assume, would reduce the possibility of "burning." But if the amps are too small, then we get that "peach" color, right? Just sharing what I've learned so far [feel free to laugh your behind off if I'm saying something dumb!]

        I was also told that there were two schools of thought amongst platers regarding calculating surface are. One school of thought is that you only have to calculate the surface area of one side of the cathode [in our case, a flat leaf from a tree], because being short on that calculation is better than being over. The other school of thought is that you have to calculate the surface are of both sides of the leaves. One long-time tanker told me that, "Different things work for different people." Not a very satisfying answer, but his experienced stretched back to 1971.

        In our case we calculated the surface area for one side of the leaves. In July of 2004, we ran three tests. Two of them came out well, the third bombed totally. This past Sunday we bombed again.

        Now, regarding your question about "Flash copper" as opposed to "Acid copper," I now have to show my ignorance: I've never heard of that distinction. I'm new to this. I'll have to pick up more books (I'll be ordering Caswell's book]. I can tell you, though, that the copper we purchased is 99% copper. As I said, we did plate very well our first two attempts. So we're fairly certain we have a good system. But something is wrong. And if Flash copper is better than Acid copper [or vice verse], I'd definitely like to deal with the best one, whichever it is.

        You said, "Acid copper should have about 1/16 to 1/8" after one hour." What do you mean by, "should have"? Do you mean that after an hour there should be copper growth of 1/16th to 1/8th inch? Boy, if that's what you mean, I'm REALLY glad I came here! Just because I've learned something already! But please clarify what you mean. Certainly that kind of growth would cut my time a whole lot. I don't think I need an entire 1/8th inch of copper growth on our leaves, although I've never measured any of our successfully-plated leaves [I'll do that tonight!]

        You stated that you've never heard of plating for 8 hours. Did you mean that you think that's too long or not long enough? I read on the Internet where a New York artist takes 15 hours to plate. And a couple other sources said the same thing. But, hey, I'm certainly looking to cut it down.

        We're just loving this stuff. We don't know why, but it's now in our blood.

        Anyway, thanks again, and please respond again.


        • #5
          The Caswell book will get you fixed up. If you are plating both sides if the leaf, then you need to calculate the sq. in. of both sides. If you don't , your CD (current density) will be half of what your trying for. Do you have a anode on each side? What thickness are you trying for? Flash copper is an etch coat or primer for other coatings.


          • #6
            A couple of quick points and questions.

            If you are plating over a conductive paint, I don't think flash copper is for you. The alkaline pH (runs around pH = 10) will eat away at most paint surfaces fairly quickly. I'd be interested in knowing what kind of conductive paint you're using. For plating over steel, iron, zinc, pot metal, you can't beat flash copper. Acid copper would not plate over these metals at all--in fact, it would probably destroy some of them.

            Also, the conductivity of the paint might be low enough that it just takes that long to build up enough copper. However, I'd think you would see that reflected in the current being drawn out of your power supply.

            What kind of copper formulation are you using?



            • #7

              I think I see the problem. You're right: calculating the surface area of one side is probably where my problems are.

              Actually, in a way, I was doing it right at first. I would simply take a ruler, measure the longest horizontal and vertical parts of the leaf to determine the surface area of one side, multiply them to get square inches, and then set the amps. I called myself measuring "one side," but doing it that way actually measured material that was not there. For some leaves, that would actually double the surface area [which, as you suggest, should be the case]. When I did it that way the plating went well.

              But this past Sunday I decided to use 10/10 graph paper [10 squares per inch], trace the actual outer boundary of the leaf onto the graph paper, and count the squares, so that I can get an exact measurement. It's accurate, but only for one side. Since I wasn't estimating as before, that gave me less surface area, even though it was an exact measurement for one side. Next time I'll double it, to get both sides, and see what happens.

              Good to hear about the Caswell book. Regarding the anodes, yes: I have anodes in the tank on both walls. The anodes are spaced 3" from each other, and the leaves are hung in the copper solution by a copper wire from a brass bar. I have two fish tank pumps at the ends. I use those because when I didn't use them, I'd get striations down the length of the leaf. Someone advised me to use pumps. It worked--no more striations.

              Regarding the thickness, we just want it to be thick enough to be wearable as jewelry. For pendants we'd make it a little bit thicker because pendants get more wear.

              Thanks a bunch! In part, I just needed to feel more confident. To be blunt, I don't know anything about Ph. I barely recall from high school that Ph has something to do with acidity. But that's the extent of my knowledge on that. I definitely have to get Caswell's book. I have another book I used, but I definitely need more knowledge.


              • #8
                See? Money DOES Grow On Trees

                By've got it ole Bean.
                It's fun learning, isn't it?
                How long have you been plating now?

                What other similar items are you plating for your jewelry? If you care to drop me a line on E-Mail or MSN Messenger as mentioned in my earlier post, perhaps we can share more ideas along these lines.

                Take care.
                - etcc
                "1,200 Year Old Highlander Immortal"


                • #9

                  Thanks, etcc. I HOPE I've "got it!" I'm rusing to get to work now. Most certainly we can exchange via email. But I have to warn you: I'm a dummy in this--brand new. I've only performed about 5 tests. I performed 3 or 4 back in July, and one this past Sunday.

                  As regards other things to plate, we're just trying to get this organic stuff down [leaves, roses, etc]., first. Got to try to make sure we CAN plate. It's been tough. But maybe now we'll get some consistency. Got to run! Thanks again.


                  • #10
                    Look Forward To Hearing From You

                    Thanks for your reply...Look forward to hearing from you soon.
                    Good Luck on your continuing tests.
                    Have a Great Weekend...Take care.
                    - etcc
                    "1,200 Year Old Highlander Immortal"