Copper Electroplating Bare Metal Hosts

D2000

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Hi, I'm interested in doing some copper electroplating on my aluminium Mac Tri EDC. The original cerakote coating is all gone and it's just bare Aluminium.

I know there's 2 ways I could go about this.
I could do each part individually or I could plate the whole flashlight assembled and sealed.

Sealed and whole and assembled would work because of the method of copper Electroplating which ensures only conductive materials take on the copper and bind to the surface in the solution - meaning the rubber switch boot and the glass lense would be unaffected and uncoated. I would also need to use a thin plastic disc or bulging o-ring between the head and battery tube to ensure the copper coating doesn't fuse the surfaces together.

Naturally I know I would need to take out the drive and light engine as a current is running through the whole unit.

The separate method would take more work as I need to ensure the internals tolerances don't change due to the added material, so it seems like more work for less advantage.


Am I missing anything here? Any advice?

Updates of the progress will follow in this thread also.
 

light-modder

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I've been working on getting a copper plating setup put together. One guy I talked to said that in his experience the amount of material that was added didn't affect threads. But I have yet to find that out for myself. Do you already have a plating setup?
 

D2000

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Cheers for that little bit of info I'm curious about threads being preserved too..

I'm doing quite a basic setup, a DIY job that should run about 50$ or so.

What is your setup like and what are you plating?
 

light-modder

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I bought a kit to use. I haven't been able to get it set up yet. My wife got pregnant in October and has been sick so I haven't had the time to get it going yet. As far as what I'm plating, a few different items that id rather not disclose at this time.
 

Str8stroke

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I bought a kit to use. I haven't been able to get it set up yet. My wife got pregnant in October and has been sick so I haven't had the time to get it going yet. As far as what I'm plating, a few different items that id rather not disclose at this time.
Good luck with all that my friend. Hormones and sickness don't mix well!

D2000, I was just stopping in to see what others said. I had found a good link on Pinterest about copper plating. If I can find it again, I will link you. It seemed through.
 

D2000

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Good luck with all that my friend. Hormones and sickness don't mix well!

D2000, I was just stopping in to see what others said. I had found a good link on Pinterest about copper plating. If I can find it again, I will link you. It seemed through.
Awesome! Thanks for that buddy.
 

D2000

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I bought a kit to use. I haven't been able to get it set up yet. My wife got pregnant in October and has been sick so I haven't had the time to get it going yet. As far as what I'm plating, a few different items that id rather not disclose at this time.
Cheers. Feel free to keep us updated when things get rolling again. And best wishes to you and your wife.
 
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light-modder

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Thanks guys. After I do get set up I'll have to practice plating and then put items through their paces as my main objective is an EDC item. So it may be a little bit.
 

D2000

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Awesome. One little hurdle I've just realised is that if I copper plate my edc I'll have to deal with the smell on my hands after long term handling

I wonder if you can deposit other materials that are hardy and durable and pretty.
 

DrafterDan

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I've wondered why there is such a fascination with copper. It looks great when bright-n-shiny, but that doesn't last long. Even if you never touch it and deposit body oils, it will still tarnish and eventually turn green. Plus that smell. Overall it's not a huge issue, but enough to keep me from purchasing a Cu torch.
 

light-modder

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I have one copper light and it's my favorite light, probably due to the size. I use it for short periods so the smell is never an issue. I like the patina, mine isn't going very fast, probably because I use mine for short periods. That's my reason for a copper light.
 

D2000

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At this point I am seriously considering using silver as a deposit. I think I read somewhere that it is possible to deposit Aluminium on to a surface in a similar fashion but it is a bit more difficult
 

gadget_lover

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In general, plating requires that you either dip a part in a solution with the metal already dissolved in it, or that you use electricity and a bath of some sort to persuade metal to migrate from a sacrificial piece to the part that you are plating.

I don't think that aluminum will work well with either technique. Silver works with both.


Dan
 

D2000

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In general, plating requires that you either dip a part in a solution with the metal already dissolved in it, or that you use electricity and a bath of some sort to persuade metal to migrate from a sacrificial piece to the part that you are plating.

I don't think that aluminum will work well with either technique. Silver works with both.


Dan
Thank you for that gadget_lover

I think you're right. I just want to restore the surface and spruce it up a bit.

I'm tempted to do a gold electroplate. It wouldn't require much, be nice and inert to touching and patina, but not as durable.
 

gadget_lover

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Nickel plating is a good alternative. It's a hard coating and it takes a good polish.

There are nickel plating process that use electricity as well as some that do not. The "electroless nickel plating" kits can be had for under $200 and will do a lot of lights. Check out all the plating kits at http://www.caswellplating.com/electroplating-anodizing/electroless-plating-kits.html

They also have kits for doing copper, gold, etc.

Dan
 

D2000

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Nickel plating is a good alternative. It's a hard coating and it takes a good polish.

There are nickel plating process that use electricity as well as some that do not. The "electroless nickel plating" kits can be had for under $200 and will do a lot of lights. Check out all the plating kits at http://www.caswellplating.com/electroplating-anodizing/electroless-plating-kits.html

They also have kits for doing copper, gold, etc.

Dan
Thank you so much that info that's super handy. I hadn't though about nickel. I know that can be really lovely polished. Surely stronger than aluminium.
 

texas cop

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I used to work in a circuit board shop where we did electroless Copper, Nickel and electroplating of Copper, Nickel and Gold. Electroless Copper tarnishes right out of the bath, it is incredibly porous so it looks very matte. How ever it does plate very evenly. Electroless Nickel plates well and very consistent coverage. Electroplated Copper and Nickel is much less porous, shinier. They do have edge build ups and uneven plating, nooks and recesses plate slower. Electroplating is very much an art and science that takes a bit of practice. All methods need acid etching and strong degreasers, might just want to find a shop to do the work. My entire 5 year job out of College with them was just maintaining the chemicals in the plating shop. Not to put you off the idea, a circuit board in multi layer multi wired configuration is no easy build. Bared metal is much easier.
 

D2000

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I used to work in a circuit board shop where we did electroless Copper, Nickel and electroplating of Copper, Nickel and Gold. Electroless Copper tarnishes right out of the bath, it is incredibly porous so it looks very matte. How ever it does plate very evenly. Electroless Nickel plates well and very consistent coverage. Electroplated Copper and Nickel is much less porous, shinier. They do have edge build ups and uneven plating, nooks and recesses plate slower. Electroplating is very much an art and science that takes a bit of practice. All methods need acid etching and strong degreasers, might just want to find a shop to do the work. My entire 5 year job out of College with them was just maintaining the chemicals in the plating shop. Not to put you off the idea, a circuit board in multi layer multi wired configuration is no easy build. Bared metal is much easier.
Thanks very much for that extensive write up with all that detail. It really helps.

I have no plans to plate anything but the bare metal on the outside of the host anyway so I think I should be pretty good?

I've decided I'll likely go for a nickel plate. Seems the best option by far. I don't mind if it's a bit uneven, the surface of my poor Tri EDC has certainly seen better days.
 

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