Copper aluminum

One of the possible surface finishes of aluminum is copper plating. Like other processes, the copper-plating of aluminum is based on a galvanic technique. How and why aluminum is coppered, we have summarized in the following guide for you.

The surface refinement of aluminum

The processing options of copper are many. In particular, the surface refinement of aluminum plays an important role in many areas. These include the following procedures:

  • Copper aluminum
  • Nickel-plated aluminum
  • Chrome-plated aluminum
  • Aluminum silver
  • Gild aluminum

Although other processes such as cementation or fire-gilding can be used, for example, for the gilding of aluminum, the most common is the galvanic surface refinement, as well as in the other surface finishes listed here.

Reasons for the coppering of aluminum

In this case, the coppering can be done for various reasons. For example, it is important that the aluminum is also coated with copper before chrome plating. Otherwise, the poor chemical compatibility of chromium with aluminum would cause the chrome layer to peel off very quickly.

surface preparation

The coppering of aluminum is also carried out to prepare the surface. Regardless of whether the aluminum is to be gold-plated or chrome-plated, both are procedures in which the high optical quality (in the form of a perfect surface) depends on how scratches and other damage or blemishes are worked out.

After pickling the aluminum for stripping and / or removing the oxide layer, the exact surface finish becomes even more visible. Before starting copper plating, the aluminum must be polished to a high gloss. With this form of high-gloss surface compaction even the finest blemishes are polished out.

Copper plating due to layer buildup

However, the grinding of aluminum is always at the expense of material thickness. By coppering several layers of copper can be applied. The aluminum is alternately polished and galvanically copper-plated. The slightest scratches are worked out of the aluminum surface.

Other reasons for copper plating

In addition, copper plating is also interesting if other properties such as electrical conductivity to be adjusted, or even a protective layer against direct oxidation of the aluminum is required. Not to be forgotten are also the optical applications, when it comes to the fact that an aluminum should receive a homogeneous, coppery red shade.

Effort in the coppering of aluminum

As with chrome plating, the aluminum workpiece is also immersed in a copper bath at a certain voltage for a certain period during copper plating. As with chrome plating, the time and labor involved in coppering is high but still lower than in chrome plating. Accordingly, copper plating is also cheaper than chrome plating aluminum.

Tips & Tricks

Not all aluminum components are suitable for galvanic surface refinement. For alloy wheels, which usually already consist of a highly compacted aluminum structure, the chrome plating together with the coppering is rather not offered. Instead, high gloss compaction by polishing is preferred here.

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