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  • Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

    Hi to all,

    A little background; Micromark (the self acclaimed "small tool specialists") supplied me what I now know to be a *tiny* Caswell Copy Chrome kit - 16oz of solution, a 4.5v, 300mA () power supply and a plating wand..... I was "hoping" that this little guy was featured in this forum, but apparently you're all "big boys!".......

    My test work is photoetched 0.005" stainless steel about 2" x 2" total, with ~2 sq" of material (including the "sprues"!) to be plated (pic below).

    Questions;

    - In addition to SS, I can etch brass of the same thickness - Would this be a better choice for subsequent chrome plating? [Pros / cons of each?]
    - Polishing with the recommended flitz polish is gonna be almost impossible I believe! Could it be "chemically" cleaned? I'm thinking a quick dunk into diluted etchant (ferric chloride) followed by distilled water and then try the plating?
    - Any other ideas for cleaning (polishing?) this sucker
    - In addition to the wand, the instructions also note small parts "especially with lots of detail" can be dipped. I guess this is the way to go?
    - Is there a way to mask parts of the work? [Not a big deal, but would "save" ~50% of solution if I don't plate the support pieces!]
    - I did try a real quick wand application - Nothing at all (hardly surprising I guess as this has been extensively handled?) - I even checked the V across the power supply - Was reading >8V! [I assume this is given that it's open circuit?] - Hopefully that's OK?

    I did search around for any photo etch comments etc, but it seems I may be the first!......

    Many thanks in advance for any comments, suggestions & ideas!

    Cheers,
    Ian
    EDIT; Seems the pic has been shrunk down a lot (not by the site, but earlier) - If anyone's interested I can post a larger version?
    Attached Files
    Last edited by fast_ian; 05-07-2011, 01:30 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

    Originally posted by fast_ian View Post
    ..... If anyone's interested I can post a larger version?
    Under plexiglass to eliminate shadows......
    Attached Files

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

      Originally posted by fast_ian View Post
      Many thanks in advance for any comments, suggestions & ideas!
      Wow! 170 odd views and nary a comment!

      Something of an update; Absent any other ideas I figured I'd just dunk it into a bath and see what happens - Raised yet more questions;

      - With the whole anode in the solution the work quickly turned "black & smutty" (their words in the instructions!) - I lifted it out some and got it back under control - What's the "recommended" size of the anode when compared to the work?.... [I guess I had only about 1/2" sq in solution.]

      I also think I "overplated" the thing - It didn't "take" all that well (I never did clean or polish it) but it's a start......

      Again, any answers, comments or suggestions *very* welcome - I'm feeling awfully alone here right now!

      Cheers,
      Ian

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

        Hmmm...... One more Q before I give up and simply go my own way.......

        While returning the solution to the bottle I noticed (wasn't hard! ) about a Tbs of what I'll call "red sugar" at the bottom of the "tank". - I left it there, but am wondering if I should have put it back?

        Is it "spent" solution? Will it re-desolve? Do I want it to?......

        Cheers,
        Ian

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

          Wowsers! ~300 views and still not a solitary comment

          Have I stumbled upon a secret society? Do I need to know a special handshake?

          Ok, I know my kit is tiny compared with a lot of what's happening here, but surely some of my Q's are "trivial" for anyone with any experience - Regardless of size?

          Come on folks - Please speak up!...... If I wasn't getting views, I'd understand, but I'm getting really paranoid! - If I've missed an FAQ (or something?) I apologize - *Please* point me in the correct direction - Thanks.

          Alternatively, is there another forum anywhere where folk may be more forthcoming?

          Cheers,
          Ian

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

            Ian;
            Couple of things.. Not many (any?) folks on this forum do photo etching, so people can't comment..
            In reading your posts, with respect to the "general plating" questions, you asked about Anode Ratio.. Generally we "big" platers (I have a 2.5 gal set-up) use a two to one ratio (two parts Anode to one part Cathode). This seems to replenish the bath with metal a bit faster than it gets used.
            Also, I notice that you have (and assume you are using) the 300 Milliwatt Power Brick.. Throw it away and get a proper Plating Power Supply WITH Fully Adjustable Amperage (Current).. You don't "need" to worry about setting the volts, they will seek their own, proper level. This assumes you can do "bath plating" with your kit.. Your mention of a "Plating Wand" strongly suggests that your kit is a "Brush Plating" kit.. (wipe-on and hope), NOT a real "Bath" where you can submerge the part into the plating solution.. As I understand (and I really don't), the two processes are totally different and not "interchangeable" as such! That said, the "Black & Smutty" suggests more of an incompatibility between metal & bath, not a Current (power) issue. Stainless Steel is a bit*h to plate. Aluminum requires a whole 'nother process to be use BEFORE electroplating and you made no mention of your pre-plate prep and cleaning process.. All factors in the outcome of the finished plate.
            Surface Area vs Amps per Square Inch is important. You need to measure all SIX Sides of the parts to be plated and adjust the amps (milliamps) to match accordingly..
            That's about all I can offer.. I don't do CopyChrome, just CopyCad/Zinc for right now (although I have used Electroless Nickel and have Bright Nickel and Flash Copper baths mixed) I'm still learning, as well.
            Also, a post, like yours, may NOT receive a reply for longer than 2-3 days.. This is a "Hobby Forum", people have real lives that come first.. There are times when people post almost instantly (rare), I'd say an average response time would be a week or so..
            You might try searching thru previous posts in both the "CopyChrome" and "Electroplating Questions" forums to see if you can come across info that will benefit you in your learning process.
            With respect to "another forum", if Micromark doesn't have a "plating forum" for the products they sell, then the Caswell Forum will be your best bet! It "might" help if you bought the Caswell Plating Manual (about $25).. It has "general information" about plating, setting up, etc. (2.5 to 5gal plating set-ups, but it might give you good ideas) then the rest is basic instructions on the specific kits Caswell offers.. If you are 100% certain the Micromark kit is a Caswell CopyChrome kit, then the CopyChrome Brush Plating info in the Plating Manual might be of some interest to you.. There are four pages of "Plug & Plate" (general brush plating, that does include some CopyChrome stuff) info in the Caswell Plating Manual, I don't know what instructions you got from Micromark and if they differ from Caswell's info, but it might be worth a shot!
            Charles

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

              Firstly, *Many* thanks for the comments - Appreciated!

              Originally posted by XK120DHC View Post
              Ian;
              Couple of things.. Not many (any?) folks on this forum do photo etching, so people can't comment..
              I had a bad feeling the nature of the work may have "scared" people! I was hoping it was just another piece of steel (or brass?) at this point.....

              In reading your posts, with respect to the "general plating" questions, you asked about Anode Ratio.. Generally we "big" platers (I have a 2.5 gal set-up) use a two to one ratio (two parts Anode to one part Cathode). This seems to replenish the bath with metal a bit faster than it gets used.
              *Awesome* - Thanks for that - Exactly the kind of info I'm after!

              Also, I notice that you have (and assume you are using) the 300 Milliwatt Power Brick.. Throw it away and get a proper Plating Power Supply WITH Fully Adjustable Amperage (Current).. You don't "need" to worry about setting the volts, they will seek their own, proper level.
              Hmmm - I do have a bench power supply and it will limit current (or volts!) - Having said that, what do I set it to? - I know I'm way in left field here as I'm only using an 8oz bath - The work is obviously pretty darn close to the anode and I don't want to "overcook" it (is that even possible?)

              This assumes you can do "bath plating" with your kit.. Your mention of a "Plating Wand" strongly suggests that your kit is a "Brush Plating" kit.. (wipe-on and hope), NOT a real "Bath" where you can submerge the part into the plating solution.. As I understand (and I really don't), the two processes are totally different and not "interchangeable" as such!
              FWIW, the instructions (written by Caswell) say:

              Sometimes it is much easier to simply dip the part into the solution to plate it, especially if it's small with lots of detail. The PlugNPlate power supply and plating wand can easily be used for this procedure.
              .....
              The degree of plating will depend on several factors;

              1. The amount of anode immersed in ratio to the size of the part.... Too much wand will make the plating appear smutty or dark [This is what I believe happened on attempt #1 - it appeared that lifting the anode out some "slowed" the process and the "blackness" disappeared.(?)]
              2. Distance from anode to work - Being too close will cause similar problems to #1
              3. Temperature of the solution
              4. Duration (!)
              So, now we know!

              That said, the "Black & Smutty" suggests more of an incompatibility between metal & bath, not a Current (power) issue.
              Very possible - As noted above, this was barely cleaned, let alone polished before I tried it! [More on that in a moment....]

              Stainless Steel is a bit*h to plate.
              How about brass? Makes little difference to my etch process and if brass is easier to plate I'll use that instead.
              .....you made no mention of your pre-plate prep and cleaning process.. All factors in the outcome of the finished plate.
              Pre-plate prep & cleaning didn't really happen on this one - Searching around here it certainly becomes apparent it's *super* important to the finish. My "problem" was (is!), how the devil do I clean/prep this sucker!?.... I'm thinking tape it to a piece of plexiglass and have at it with a polishing wheel in the Dremel - I think as long as I'm careful which "direction" I come from I can get one side done (the other doesn't matter) with the recommended Flitz polish - After that, how is any residue removed? Wash in soapy water? Alcohol? Diluted etchant? - Again, any ideas from anyone who's polished with Flitz or similar much appreciated.....

              Somewhat related, and I've searched & searched for an answer, is it possible to "mask" parts of the work? How? - The entire back side & the support sprues could all be "blanked off" for example.....


              Surface Area vs Amps per Square Inch is important. You need to measure all SIX Sides of the parts to be plated and adjust the amps (milliamps) to match accordingly..
              That's about all I can offer.. I don't do CopyChrome, just CopyCad/Zinc for right now (although I have used Electroless Nickel and have Bright Nickel and Flash Copper baths mixed) I'm still learning, as well.
              I *really* appreciate your comments & thoughts - Thanks again for taking the time.


              Also, a post, like yours, may NOT receive a reply for longer than 2-3 days.. This is a "Hobby Forum", people have real lives that come first.. There are times when people post almost instantly (rare), I'd say an average response time would be a week or so..
              Understood - I sincerely apologize if my intended "enthusiasm" offended - I guess I'm spoilt in the other couple of forums I'm active on generally get answers within a few hours!....

              You might try searching thru previous posts in both the "CopyChrome" and "Electroplating Questions" forums to see if you can come across info that will benefit you in your learning process.
              Much learnt from here. Many "rat holes" pursued!....

              Seriously, when I first landed here I thought I'd hit the motherlode with this forum - I figured I'd be up to my eyes in Q&A's about the tiny little kit!..... Took a while to realize that Caswell's own versions of the kit are *much* bigger - However, as far as I can tell, the "magic solution" is the same, just the sizes are tiny.....

              With respect to "another forum", if Micromark doesn't have a "plating forum" for the products they sell, then the Caswell Forum will be your best bet! It "might" help if you bought the Caswell Plating Manual (about $25).. It has "general information" about plating, setting up, etc. (2.5 to 5gal plating set-ups, but it might give you good ideas) then the rest is basic instructions on the specific kits Caswell offers.. If you are 100% certain the Micromark kit is a Caswell CopyChrome kit, then the CopyChrome Brush Plating info in the Plating Manual might be of some interest to you.. There are four pages of "Plug & Plate" (general brush plating, that does include some CopyChrome stuff) info in the Caswell Plating Manual, I don't know what instructions you got from Micromark and if they differ from Caswell's info, but it might be worth a shot!
              Yep - I'm thinking the book is the next purchase..... [For sure, it's a Caswell Copychrome kit - At least that's what the instructions say!]

              Any comments about what to do with my "red sugar" left in the "tank"? - I guess it's "spent" solution and should be disposed of? [Or, returned to the bottle for re-use?]

              Thanks again for reading and any further comments, [Just overlook that it's a PE part! ]
              Cheers,
              Ian

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                Ian;
                Not gonna do the interlinear quotes.. that would make for a WAY long post. I'll try to hit the "high spots" where
                I can speak with some bit of general plating knowledge..
                First. There is a HUGE difference between "Cleaning" and "Polishing"... You "clean" your teeth, the dentist "polishes" them.. Okay, bad analogy, but you get the idea. Put away the Fitz and think "Soap & water" as well as Media blasting (I use sand), etc.
                Caswell offers a product called "SP Degreaser".. It should be used FIRST, before you do anything else. It removes, (wait for it) Grease!! Including your grubby little fingerprints that raise havoc with plated parts.. Next, I sandblast my parts.. I reuse old, filtered "Blasting" sand (NOT playground sand, which is really little rocks!!) at a low pressure, like 40-50psi, at low angles.. Lower possibility of warping ferrous metals and eroding detals. Primarily, it removes rust, oxidation, etc. From this point on, you NEVER touch the part with human hands, again!! Use the Blue or Purple Nitryl gloves (even laytex leaves a residue), then it's back into a second pot of SP Degreaser (the first one has the old removed grease in it!!).. This removes the sand and any oil/water that might have gotten past the three filters between the compressor and blast nozzle, etc.. Also, for lightly tarnished/rusted pieces, a "Vibratory Tumbler" can be used.. No labor involved, just days of time, in some cases. Everyone has their "pet" media, I've found that (so far) a product called "Skat-Magic" from TIP Products in Ohio works well (for me) without degrading fine details.. But I suppose, like anything else, if it is used too long on a part, it will polish it like a river rock! Featureless and round!
                Next, depending on the metal, I might use a #4 Pickle (proprietary stuff Caswell sells) to douche the part in (it's okay for steel-- removes rust, it activates zinc, Pot Metal, Brass, & Copper), or I might douche it in a 25% dilution of Muriatic Acid (Muriatic is a 25% dilution of HCI). Muriatic can be bought at home improvement stores, swimming pool supply places, etc..
                Then, after a distilled water rinse, it's straight into the plating bath.
                Enter the Plating Power Supply.. I'm not an electronics guy, so I don't know if what you have will work, but you NEED to have infinitely adjustable Amperage.. from a tenth of a milliamp up to three to five amps, depending on the total square inches of your largest work piece. Now, having said that, the Caswell Plating Manual v9, page 36 shows, for Copy Chrome, the required amps to be One Amp per 32 Square Inches of total surface area (this is "regular" plating, not brush plating), so you will need a readable ammeter in-line (my 12Volt-25Amp Power Supply has a one amp increment 0-30amp gauge, I clip-on a meter, in-line, that will allow me to adjust for "less than one amp".. 1000milliamps on down to one milliamp).. This requires constant monitoring, to keep "spot-on".. The brush plating info just says to connect the power brick.. No control of your power at all!
                Plating Bath temp should be 70*F for CopyChrome, requires "Agitation" (a small aquarium type air pump or small water pump). Agitation helps to "scrub" any hydrogen bubbles off the part during plating, this prevents pits, and it circulates the plating solution so the part plates more evenly. That's the theory, at least. Plating time varies for the thickness of plate required.. longer is thicker. With the Zinc, I shoot for a 0.001" min. thick plate (this accepts the chromate where a lesser thickness will not)..
                On "blanking off" areas you don't want plated, there is a product called "Maskit" (I think that's the correct spelling).. It's a paint-like product, I've never used it, but read it can be difficult to remove. It is strongly suggested to NOT use Masking tape, duct tape, etc. the glues mess-up the plating baths.. I've never tried tape, so I do not know personally..
                After the plating bath, another distilled water bath then a drying stage (either air dry or forced hot air.. depending)
                After the part is dry, you can get your fingerprints all over it.. You'll just have to polish them off.. (Now use the Fitz).
                On the "Red Sugar".. I can't help you.. But a plating bath should not separate during, or after use.. In fact, discounting evaporation, the composition of the bath should never change unless contaminated (if evaporation does occur, just top-up with distilled water)..
                Which brings up a question.. Did you have to mix chemicals to make the CopyChrome Bath?? If so, did you use Distilled Water or Tap Water? If the latter, you probably screwed the pooch. Check the pH of the bath (you DO have a Digital pH tester, don't you?? If not, Get one!) it should be between 3.5 and 4.5.. Outside of this range is not good!
                Lastly, I'd bet if you asked questions about "CopyChrome", you might get some better informed replies.. Of course the most frequent replies are going to be "What metal are you plating? In what are you plating(bath)? Did you Clean the part? Did you REALLY Clean the part? Are You SURE you cleaned the part? Size of part, amps and time used during plating, Temp used, etc..
                Hope this helps.
                Charles

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                  Originally posted by XK120DHC View Post
                  Ian;
                  Not gonna do the interlinear quotes.. that would make for a WAY long post. I'll try to hit the "high spots" where I can speak with some bit of general plating knowledge.
                  Thanks for taking the time! Also thanks to whoever "5 starred" this nausea! - If anyone happens to have/have used any of the tiny Micromark CopyChrome (or nickel/copper of course) kits, please speak up! - I'm amazed they haven't been discussed before. Anyway;

                  ...Put away the Fitz and think "Soap & water" as well as Media blasting (I use sand), etc.
                  Caswell offers a product called "SP Degreaser".. It should be used FIRST, before you do anything else. It removes, (wait for it) Grease!! Including your grubby little fingerprints that raise havoc with plated parts.. Next, I sandblast my parts..
                  .......
                  Then, after a distilled water rinse, it's straight into the plating bath.
                  Holey-moley! So, it's all about removing contaminants rather than "polishing" it seems?

                  If I get organized, I could take a freshly manufactured part, directly from it's sodium hydroxide bath (wherein the photoresist is removed) straight into the plating tank [OK, rinse with distilled water first] - I don't think it'll ever be as "clean" again.....

                  Enter the Plating Power Supply..
                  ......
                  Now, having said that, the Caswell Plating Manual v9, page 36 shows, for Copy Chrome, the required amps to be One Amp per 32 Square Inches of total surface area ......
                  The brush plating info just says to connect the power brick.. No control of your power at all!
                  Wow!..... I'm guessing my work totals no more than 2sq" (all 6 sides!) - So, 300mA from my brick is *huge*!......

                  Plating Bath temp should be 70*F for CopyChrome, requires "Agitation" (a small aquarium type air pump or small water pump).
                  I have a little pump to agitate the PE solution - Could use that I guess. OTOH, this is so small I think enough agitation could be provided by me simply "waggling" it around in the tank.... (?) - It's so small (8oz of solution) I guess the pump will cause it to explode!

                  On "blanking off" areas you don't want plated, there is a product called "Maskit" (I think that's the correct spelling).. It's a paint-like product, I've never used it, but read it can be difficult to remove. It is strongly suggested to NOT use Masking tape, duct tape, etc. the glues mess-up the plating baths.. I've never tried tape, so I do not know personally..
                  I guess that's "liquid masking film" - Not bad stuff, but as noted can be a PITA to remove.... I agree films with any adhesive are probably gonna cause problems. However, I do have some "Parafilm-M" (also from MM if anyone's interested in more) - It stretches to activate, but is adhesive free. An alternative may be "cling film" (Seran wrap) - Cut & applied carefully that may be OK?

                  On the "Red Sugar".. I can't help you.. But a plating bath should not separate during, or after use.. In fact, discounting evaporation, the composition of the bath should never change unless contaminated (if evaporation does occur, just top-up with distilled water)..
                  Which brings up a question.. Did you have to mix chemicals to make the CopyChrome Bath?? If so, did you use Distilled Water or Tap Water? If the latter, you probably screwed the pooch. Check the pH of the bath (you DO have a Digital pH tester, don't you?? If not, Get one!) it should be between 3.5 and 4.5.. Outside of this range is not good!
                  It so happens I do have a pH meter! - I'll check it.

                  The solution was pre-mixed [the kit includes 2 x 8oz bottles, labelled by Caswell as "PlugnPlate Copy Chrome Solution"]. I simply poured one into a (plastic) glass. Upon returning to the bottle the "red sugar" was left in the bottom - See the pic!..... [FWIW, I noticed the same red sugar on the anode prior to taking this shot.]

                  Lastly, I'd bet if you asked questions about "CopyChrome", you might get some better informed replies.. Of course the most frequent replies are going to be "What metal are you plating? In what are you plating(bath)? Did you Clean the part? Did you REALLY Clean the part? Are You SURE you cleaned the part? Size of part, amps and time used during plating, Temp used, etc..
                  Hope this helps.
                  Certainly does! Thanks again. [If possible, I'll add a couple more tags to this thread - Maybe help the next "me"!.....]

                  As for those Q's;

                  - I can etch (and hence plate) both brass & stainless - Given your earlier comment, my next work will be brass.....
                  - As for cleaning - I'm hoping the above will cover it.... [I'll also be sure to note temp and will modify the brick so I can read current - Noodling around here has at least taught me that I better have that info before asking! ]

                  Cheers,
                  Ian
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                    Originally posted by XK120DHC View Post
                    ....Check the pH of the bath (you DO have a Digital pH tester, don't you?? If not, Get one!) it should be between 3.5 and 4.5.. Outside of this range is not good!....
                    Replaced the 9v battery in the meter, checked the calibration in pH7.0 buffer - All good.

                    In the second (unused) bottle of solution; pH4.1 - I'm a happy camper!

                    In the one I've used (albeit "briefly" ~5-10 minutes?) however; pH2.5

                    I promise I'll keep better track of time next time thru

                    In the meantime, does that give anyone any clues?........

                    Cheers,
                    Ian

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                      Ian;
                      When a "newbie" shows-up here or another electroplating forum I'm on, asking "What do I need to dip my parts to chrome them?" (after all the other posts telling him that electroplating is NOT dipping), I advise the person to obtain the Caswell Plating Manual, read the first chapters on "how to" set-up for plating, then to go out and but the necessary extra buckets for all the rinses involved, the different acids required (including ammonia), then to build a permanent work area (mine is ten feet wide with 10" shelves above and below the work surface... and I could STILL use more room!) Then read all there is about the plating process (most are interested in Chrome) before buying their first Caswell Kit.. People don't realize that the set-up costs way more than the plating chemicals and the knowledge comes slowly (we all hate to study, we want to "do"!)
                      On the "agitation".. Fish supply places have these tiny little valves that control the volume of air being emitted.. You really want air bubbles coming up from under the part (while it's in the plating bath) to remove the hydrogen bubbles that form during plating.. "wagging" the part around just swirls the bath, does little to nothing to remove the pit causing hydrogen..
                      Glad your pH checked out in one bath.. The other (2.5) sounds shot.. I just checked the Plating Manual V.9, it makes reference to adjusting the pH, but never says "how".. I even checked my v.8 manual.. I read, somewhere, on how to adjust the pH of the various baths, that's why I bought the ammonia, but for the love of me, I cannot find it right now..
                      Might I suggest two things, try "reconstituting" the bath you used (that left behind the "red sugar").. remix the liquid and the red sugar in a plastic container that you can heat-up (I don't know if your kit included heaters or not, if not, check Caswell's main Plating page and order a couple.. they are cheap. Get a "Candy Thermometer" in the cooking section of a grocery story.. You'll want to heat the nickel (Copy Chrome) bath to about 110 degrees F.. If the sugar reabsorbs, recheck the pH.. you might be able to save the bath..
                      Also, make certain that nothing on the parts to be plated has anything on it that would react to the bath. I don't know how stable the photo-etch "resist stuff" is in an acid based plating bath.. High School Chemistry class was forty-five years ago.. I didn't learn anything then, at all!
                      Charles

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                        Once again Charles, thanks for the comments.

                        I decided to "backtrack" a little - Had 3 pieces of brass "scrap" that I prepped and treated differently:

                        1-S; Cleaned with 3200 and then 6000 grade sandpaper.
                        1-P; The other side of 1-S that I polished with metal polish (as suggested in the instructions)

                        2-S & 2-P; Same deal, but plated (with the wand) from the unused bottle of solution - I obviously wanted to see if I had "toasted" the first bottle with reduced pH.

                        I used the wand, and was almost ready to give up when "magic started" - Kept "brushing" and the results are below!..... I couldn't discern a difference between bottle #1 & #2, but certainly sanding (rather than the suggested polishing) produced marginally better results. Once the work "started to go", it went pretty fast - Does this stuff need to "warm up"?..... [I'd be surprised, but it sure "felt" that way..... Not temperature BTW, but before any visible results.]

                        Then I figured "may as well try the bath approach again" (The piece labelled "1-B" in the pic) - Holey-moley! Wow! - With the anode immersed it plated in *seconds*! When I first lifted it up (to waggle it a little) I thought my eyes were deceiving me - It was close to done!.... Left it a little longer and for sure the plating is thicker than the wand versions.

                        It's not prefect - I wasn't too diligent with the cleaning (I will be with real work) but I'm stoked

                        FWIW, I didn't heat the solution, but I'm in a pretty temperate climate (about 65degs today) - If I had, I reckon the bath would have plated too fast!.....

                        I'll update when I've got some real work to show. In the meantime, I reckon this little MM kit is just what I wanted!

                        Cheers,
                        Ian
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                          Ian;
                          Looks pretty good for a first (successful) effort..
                          First, tho.. A work of Caution.. DO NOT remove the part from the bath during the plating process..
                          If the part being Nickel plated comes out of the bath, OR the Cathode wire is loose enough to cause an intermittent connection, to "plating surface" will "passivate" (I believe that's the correct term) and stop plating at that moment. You would have to "Re-Activate" the surface of the part, and the already plated nickel, to get it to continue to plate..
                          On Brush Plating, I know nothing.. In reading the literature, I'm lead to believe it's suppose to plate the moment you wipe the wand across. Additional strokes of the wand are suppose to add thickness and depth of shine. But that's just "PR", not my experience..
                          Here is a hint.. When bath plating, use copper hanging wire, of course.. Use a micrometer (0-1") or a pair of Dial Calipers that reads in "thousandths", and measure the diameter of the hanging wire, close to the part. After plating, remeasure the now nickel plated wire. Half the added difference will be the thickness of your nickel plate. Of course, keep accurate records of plating times, bath temps, a running total of bath times, etc. so if something goes haywire, you can check your figures and generally find what went wrong!
                          "Room Temps" are okay, as long as the "room temperature" is warm enough. 65 might be a bit too cool. Experiment with five degree increments (each session) and see if this helps the Nickel's "throwing power" (ability to plate faster)..
                          Lastly, If you use polish on a "to be plated" part, you WILL need to degrease the part before you begin to plate it.. Polishing compounds. pastes, etc are greasy.. they WILL contaminate the bath..
                          Did you try to recombine the red sugar back into the first bath? If so, did that change the pH any??
                          Charles

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                          • #14
                            Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                            Originally posted by XK120DHC View Post
                            ...Looks pretty good for a first (successful) effort..
                            Thanks! - I'm certainly "satisfied" for now - A good learning experience as well.....

                            First, tho.. A work of Caution.. DO NOT remove the part from the bath during the plating process..
                            If the part being Nickel plated comes out of the bath, OR the Cathode wire is loose enough to cause an intermittent connection, to "plating surface" will "passivate" (I believe that's the correct term) and stop plating at that moment. You would have to "Re-Activate" the surface of the part, and the already plated nickel, to get it to continue to plate..
                            Uh-oh!.... Not only did I repeatedly remove it, I also disconnected power more than once! It did seem that after the initial super-quick plating (as noted, way less than a minute!) the whole process slowed down - Another lesson learnt.....

                            As for "re-activating" the work, could this be the same as my "warm-up"? - With the wand it was almost as if the work had to garner a "charge" before anything happened - Then, once there, it went pretty quickly. [This is just yet another WAG, but it makes sense to me based on very limited experience.]

                            Here is a hint.. When bath plating, use copper hanging wire, of course.. Use a micrometer (0-1") or a pair of Dial Calipers that reads in "thousandths", and measure the diameter of the hanging wire, close to the part. After plating, remeasure the now nickel plated wire. Half the added difference will be the thickness of your nickel plate. Of course, keep accurate records of plating times, bath temps, a running total of bath times, etc. so if something goes haywire, you can check your figures and generally find what went wrong!
                            I guess I'm fortunate in that my work is simply 0.005" brass sheet. The bare brass reads 0.0051" and the bath plated piece 0.00575 for a total of ~0.6thou (both sides) - What should I be looking for? [I suspect a little more than this!......]

                            I'm thinking my next artwork (for the etching process) will incorporate a little "handle" on the work - Etch a little hole and bolt the cathode to that - The alligator clip fell off a few times while I was "waggling" it around..... This handle is also then my "visual clue" piece - I can lift it a little and see where I'm at without stopping the process on the real work. [I think?....]

                            "Room Temps" are okay, as long as the "room temperature" is warm enough. 65 might be a bit too cool. Experiment with five degree increments (each session) and see if this helps the Nickel's "throwing power" (ability to plate faster).
                            I've gotta be honest - The speed with which the initial plate appeared was almost scary! - I *really* don't want it going any faster - At least for now!


                            Lastly, If you use polish on a "to be plated" part, you WILL need to degrease the part before you begin to plate it.. Polishing compounds. pastes, etc are greasy.. they WILL contaminate the bath..
                            I did give it a pretty good rinse/scrub with soapy water & then sprayed distilled water on it, but reckon I'll go with your "clean rather than polish" mantra - The work is "chemically" clean after the last step of the etching process which removes the (exposed, hardened) photoresist - I have high hopes that a quick spray with distilled water and then straight into the plating tank will work well - I'll report back.

                            Did you try to recombine the red sugar back into the first bath? If so, did that change the pH any??
                            Unfortunately, I left the tank outside, and it got rained in! - The pH of that mess was "high" (~7.5) but as I said above, it didn't seem to slow the process in the bath (I used bottle #1) - I guess it's possible it made it faster (?) - I'll use the "fresh" bottle next time and let everyone know.

                            Cheers,
                            Ian
                            PS - I've been meaning to ask this since your first post - I guess your handle is related to the Jaguar of the same designation - *Great* car - Is that what you're plating? [Not all of it of course ]

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                            • #15
                              Re: Complete newbie - Micromark's (tiny!) Copy Chrome kit & Photo etched parts.

                              Ian;
                              The plating process just "looked fast", it really wasn't.. Your "coverage" of 0.00075 is smaller than the thickness of a hair.. You want a full 0.001" per surface for good corrosion protection. That will probably take a while with the power brick... like maybe a hour.. you will have to experiment, and see.
                              And, you can pretty much guarantee that all plating stopped once the current was broken.. You have to reactivate the surface (acid dip-- about 3% for 30 seconds) to get it to start plating, again..
                              On the wand plating.. I got no idea.. Never done brush plating, so I don't know how it acts/reacts, at all..
                              With regards to "user name", Yes, I have a 1953 XK120 DropHead Coupe.. I bought the Jag when I was a poor twenty year old college student... in May 1967.. I even borrowed $250 from my Mother-in-Law (of FIVE Months!) to pay for it.. cost me a total of $300.. That was a lot of money.. I was making a buck thirty-five at the time! Minimum Wage was $1.25/hr then..
                              I drove the wheels off that Jag for eight years.. day in, day out, rain, shine, snow.. even had a trailer hitch made so I could tow my motorcycles to the races.. I raced for ten years.. three as an AMA Class C Pro. On June 13, (Friday), 1973, I went into a haybale backwards at over 100 mph.. Crushed C-4. Fractured C-5 and "some" ribs!! (the Doc never bothered to count them!)
                              I am Zinc Plating & Black Chromating all the fasteners (preserving the original BEES Bolts) and I plan on Chrome Plating all the small parts, later on.. Right now, and probably for the rest of the year, I'm recovering from Neck Surgery (fused C-6 & C-7) and I will have two Lumbar vertebrae fused later this summer..

                              PS The Jag is one of 1767 built.. Total Production!
                              Last edited by XK120DHC; 05-18-2011, 01:34 AM.
                              Charles

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