Galvanize copper

Copper is suitable for many surface refinement processes. Among other things, copper can also be galvanized. The special features of electroplating copper are summarized below.

Fundamentals of copper

Copper is a relatively soft metal and therefore very easy to work with. In addition, it has excellent properties against oxidation, more under "Copper corrosion".

Copper and galvanizing

When plating with copper, a distinction must be made between coating other metals with copper and coating copper itself. Copper can be galvanized with different metals. The most commonly used is the plating of copper:

  • with copper
  • with nickel
  • with chrome

Especially if you want to chrome-plate copper, nickel-plating is recommended in advance. As a result, the surface texture is so positively influenced that the chromium adheres very well.

Electroplating is a coating technique that can be applied to almost all metals. For example, aluminum can also be chrome plated, coppered or nickel plated using electroplating.

The process of electroplating

In this case, the conventional metal to be coated is connected to the positive pole (the anode). The metal to be galvanized is connected to the negative pole (the cathode). As a result of the current, metal ions are released from the metal at the anode, which then deposit on the metal at the cathode.

The electrolyte for electroplating

Depending on the current, voltage and time, a different thickness of coating is produced. The bath (electrolyte) consists of an acidic or alkaline compound, depending on which metal has to be galvanized. For chrome plating, for example, an aqueous chromic acid base H2CrO4 with sulfuric acid H2SO4 is used as the catalyst.

For nickel plating, the nickel electrolyte consists of an aqueous solution containing nickel chloride. To copper copper sulphate is first obtained (with sulfuric acid), which is then crushed and dissolved in water.

Alternatives to immersion plating: tampon plating

The specialist trade now also offers tool sets in which the electrolyte is applied with a sponge or tampon. The sponge carrier can be adjusted to the power requirements. Depending on the aids used, this process is also referred to as tampon plating.

Tips & Tricks

Before you can start with the actual electroplating, you must condition the workpiece. That means you have to grind, polish and brush the copper workpiece. In addition, it may be necessary to etch the copper to remove the oxidation layer. In addition, the surface must also be degreased.

If copper is to be chrome-plated and it is first nickel-plated, these steps must be partially repeated between the methods of electroplating. Not every metal can be galvanized at home. For example, in chrome-plating, highly toxic vapors are produced and the electrolyte must be cleaned according to the regulations.

In model making is also gold plated. Parts which are later energized (pantograph, plug) become resistant to sparking.

Video Board: Easiest Copper Plating Method Revealed