Hello again; long time no blog. I'm back in the workshop again, finally, and very excited about my current project. It's more quill pens, but they are very nice and different from what I had been making. I'm experimenting with some new materials, including shafts made of metal tubing. Some of which are being painted, and some I am going to try copper plating. This post is less about the pens (more on them later) and more about the copper plating process.
Some of you may remember my first attempt at using electrolytic (galvanic) etching. If not please check it out. Also it is worth checking out the reference sites I linked to in that post, especially of you are planing on doing any etching or plating yourself. Last time I was focused on etching. This time I am more interested in plating. The process is exactly the same, but with the polarity reversed.
anode correctly in this context, but please don't beat me up if I am not). Another advantage to using a copper pipe like this, is that all the surfaces to be plated are roughly equidistant from the anode and copper source material, which should ensure an even plating. If I were to use a copper plate anode on one side of a tank and the tube to be plated on the other, such as with my rig from my previous experiment, the copper would tend to deposit mainly on the side facing the anode.
On a side note, my used 9V battery was good for about two and a half plating sessions (total of 5 hours) before it had to be replaced. One problem I keep having is, I can never seem to remember which way to connect the battery. I have to keep looking it up. So this time I wrote myself a little note to keep with my gear. Material is REMOVED FROM THE POSITIVE terminal, and DEPOSITED ON THE NEGATIVE terminal. Write that down, kids.
UPDATE: Although the first two tubes I plated with this rig went off without a hitch, good coverage, no problems. The third and fourth tubes were both problematic. The third one was the one where I switched batteries between the first and second hours, and its finish came out dark in some areas. It plated evenly, but it didn't look nice. The fourth was just a mess.The copper only stuck in patches, and covered less than half of the tube. I tried all sorts of alterations to the power supply to solve the problem. I switched out the battery again; I tried using a "wall wart" transformer (5V 2A and another that was 12V 800mA); I tried using a C cell battery. I got plenty of copper built up, but nothing would stick, and I even noticed some degradation of the tube wall thickness on just one end that sort of puzzles me. And I think I burnt out both of the wall warts I used. I guess my apparatus still needs some work. I will have to go online and see if I can find out what the optimal voltage and amperage would be. If anyone else has any idea what went wrong, please leave a comment.
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