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etching and plating Zippo lighters

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  • etching and plating Zippo lighters

    I wanted to etch and then plate my team's name on some new Zippo lighters. Some things are working great and some things I'm having a little dificulty with.

    I've purchased your on-line manual and have found it very informative (I never knew plating could be this easy), however the suggestions for removing old chrome and nickel are giving me some problems.

    To make a custom Zippo lighter, I take a new, plain, polished chrome Zippo, degrease it and use "Press 'n Peel" photo-copier toner resist to apply a negative mask/stencil of my design. I then use a dip of ferric chloride (the same stuff used to etch home printed circuit boards) to etch the design in the brass of the Zippo. This either works VERY well, or very badly, as the ferric chloride does not always eat through the chrome/nickel plating of the Zippo lighter consistently. Often, only one small part of the chrome/nickel plating is dissolved and then I end up with a deep hole in one part of the design and not a mark on the other.

    To solve this problem, I've tried stripping and brush de-plating using your pickle #3, which works fast and well. The problem is, this pickle, even when diluted by 50% (w/distilled water), eats pinholes in my Press 'n Peel toner resist. When this happens, the only way to save the piece is to remove the mask and completely strip the Zippo down to the base metal (brass) and then re-plate the entire thing with nickel.

    I guess my question is, what process or procedure is the gentelest way to remove the chrome and nickle plating from the brass Zippo, that won't eat through my Press 'n Peel mask?

    Info on Press 'n Peel can be found here:

    Thanks for any info.

  • #2
    You could try the Etch-o-matic from Caswell to do this.