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Nickel Plating Solution Recipe Needed!

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Can anyone give me a recipe for a nickel plating solution that gives a smooth finish?

Rachel Wdeleted
- Australia


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A Watts nickel formulation will give you a smooth matte plate. 40-8-6 ounces per gallon of nickel sulfate, nickel chloride, boric acid, pH 4.0. It may depend on what you mean by "smooth": bright? leveled? reflective?

Recipes are proprietary, and I don't know of anyone who would give this to you. You can buy or get samples from the major supply houses.

Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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There has to be an easier way to plate nickel!

Does anyone one know an easier/faster/smoother way to electroplate nickel onto copper than using a nickel sulfate plating solution?

Rachel Wdeleted
- Australia


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The person that invents a way will be in the same good position as in finding a genie in a lamp. But the lamp was probably plated with sulfate nickel (how would you release the genie if you didn't have to polish once in a while?).


Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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Any ideas on what current density would be required for the above mentioned plating solution?

Rachel Wdeleted
- Australia


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About 20-30 amperes per square foot, average.


Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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Hi, Rachel,

It looks like you might be sort of winging it without a plating book or hands-on guidance. If so, please try to get your hands on some of our recommended "must-have" books.

I hope I didn't read things wrong and offend you, but while this forum can be useful for answering specific questions, it's not a great way to introduce people to electroplating because they may wrongly assume they can just jump in without safety and environmental hazards, since they tend to go unmentioned in a thread like this (as seen by the first 6 entries)-- whereas they will be prominently mentioned in most books.

Tom, you know this topic better than me, but I thought 40 ASF was the right current density for bright Watts Nickel?

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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Thanks for the vague idea of a recipe; as for "winging it" I've managed to improve that recipe and it now gives the brightest and finest finish I've ever seen in nickel plating. As for building a library - there seems little point as most books are not specific enough with respect to recipes.

Also you might want to reassess your ideas on who uses this site; quite a number of the letters I've read on this site seem to be written from an inexperienced point of view - and I doubt any of these "peers" would mind sharing their girth of information amongst those who find that texts are sometimes inadequate.

Rachel Wdeleted
- Australia


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I am happy that you are plating better. Sorry you don't like the service.


Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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Dear Rachel:

Sharing information is the purpose of what we're doing, but sometimes the advice isn't well received. I refer people to books to increase the likelihood that they understand what the hazards are and the appropriate safety protocol, for one thing. In my own town recently a hobbyist killed himself at his kitchen table with a copper plating solution, and put the responding police officer in the hospital, so I don't like to just launch into offering recipes without mentioning safety first.

Electroplating involves haz-mat chemicals. Chromium plating solution and formaldehyde addition agents for nickel plating are known carcinogens; the cyanide required in many plating solutions is among the most powerful and fastest-acting poisons known; numerous compounds when added to acid or vice versa will release deadly and fast-acting poison gas. You can release deadly quantities of chlorine gas with just a power supply and nickel plating salts.

Then there is disposal. Ecologically-oriented hobbyists can lose their idealism when the price to properly dispose of a small shelf of chemicals runs into 5 figures. What of secondary containment? One beaker of chrome plating solution broken on the garage floor can poison the wells for blocks around.

Best of luck in your plating work, but please consider training if you haven't yet.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

+++++

opinion! Electroplating is very hazardous and I hope that morons do not try to attempt it. The person should be given full training before trying to electroplate anything.

Mack Tonhg
- Sydney, N.S.W, Australia


August 14, 2008

[Company name deleted by editor] offers training videos, complete reasonably priced kits, new processes, electroless Plating, safer chemicals. A very good site for those interested in plating on a small scale at home.

IMHO Old time platers would like us to believe that plating is some sort of "Magic." The fact of the matter is that many High Schools of Science and Technology teach basic plating practices in chemistry class. The "Old Timers" need to realize that satisfactory results can be obtained at home or in the shop with newer, safer, environmentally responsible ways.

Joseph Lincoln
- Springfield, Massachusetts


August 14, 2008

Hi, Joseph. We had to delete the company name you quoted at their request, but people can do a search for companies marketing to hobby platers. Thanks!

Your assumption that professionals are unknowledgeable and out of date is very silly, and like saying that professional mechanics can't fix Hybrids, only amateurs can, or only midwives can do laproscopic surgery, not doctors :-)

Your "old time platers" visit Capitol Hill every year to meet with Congress (NASF Washington Forum) to try to get laws like the "Categorical Standards" modified, which state that every drop of water associated with plating is regulated as hazardous even if you can drink it. Your "old time platers" travel the country to attend expositions/conferences (Sur/Fin 20xx, Coatings 20xx, Southern Metal Finishing) on new technology which might ease the regulatory burden. They meet monthly (AESF Branch meetings, NAMF Chapter meetings) to insure that they hear every presentation on each new technology like trivalent chrome, white bronze as a replacement for nickel, zinc alloys as a replacement for cadmium, and cyanide-free silver. Your "old time platers" sponsor research every year (AESF Research Sponsors program), paying for the university programs which study and improve plating processes. Your "old time platers" write the peer-reviewed journal articles (Plating & Surface Finishing, Metal Finishing, Journal of Applied Surface Finishing) which keep us up to date with the latest developments. Your "old time platers" have training & certification programs to test whether they know their stuff (Certified Electro-Finisher, Master Surface Finisher) or are just talking out of their axx. Your "old time platers" sponsor the high school science fairs you talk about (Milwaukee Science Fair, Chicago Science Fair), as well as contests for aspiring auto designers (The Bright Design Challenge).

Meanwhile people selling plating out of their garage are in violation of countless laws including failure to have a NPDES permit, failure to follow DOT registration requirements in transporting their waste to the dump, failure to register the start date for their hazardous waste accumulation, failure to test that everything going to the drain is within the required ppm range, failure to register for the MACT program, and failure to alert their neighbors of the chemicals they have on hand ("Community Right to Know Act"). If a neighborhood child develops cancer of any type for any reason, and her parents find out you were chrome plating in your garage, God help you.

Everyone is in favor of "newer, safer, environmentally responsible ways"; but talk is cheap and it is your "old time platers" who prove their environmental responsibility by maintaining all of the required permits, which in turn means they are regularly inspected by the regulatory authorities, while the garage platers don't register, remain ignorant of the law, hide below the radar, and guess that they are not doing too much damage, although they usually lack the knowledge to actually know. The worst case of plating pollution that I am aware of in a 45-year career was from a chrome shop in a large 2-car garage. It became a superfund site, and the legal fees (before the actual clean up costs even begin) is in the multi-millions.

Your turn.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Hi:

I am a retired Mech Eng. and want to gold plate, on the inside, a silver wine goblet. From what I have read on these pages it seems like I should surrender to someone who does this professionally. Seems to me I would have to clean the inside of the goblet with ?, then use an electrolyte ? in the goblet as I hook up the battery to the gold coin and the goblet. The amperage/voltage must be important. If this involves costly, hazardous chemicals I could back off but I'd like to know what would be involved

Thank you so much,

Greg Eyolfson
- Rainier, Washington


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Hello, Greg.

If you only need a thin coating, you can purchase a "liquid gold" immersion plating solution =>

This requires little beyond wiping the inside of the goblet with the solution. Please see our FAQ "Silver Plating at Home" for more information on immersion plating. Good luck!

Gold can only be chemically dissolved in cyanide, aqua regia, or proprietary chelates, so dissolving your gold coin would probably involve hazardous chemicals.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Medallion Liquid Gold Plating Kit


February 8, 2009

Gold Plating the inside of a Silver chalice does not require dissolving gold into any solution whatsoever.

If you want a truly stunning surface, forget electroplating, use "SPUTTERING".

Sputtering is "evaporating" a coil of a metal so that it "spray paints" itself onto a target. This is how you make optical coatings onto things like sunglasses and lenses.

Mostly sputtering is performed in a vacuum chamber because the element being plated reacts with the air (usually aluminum or silver). In this case it is not a problem...gold is virtually inert. Additionally, your target "surrounds" the sputtering coil, so it will deposit in one shot.

Picture this: You take a small coil of gold wire and suspend it inside your goblet on the end of steel electrodes. Then you pass perhaps a couple of Amps at about 2KHz through the gold gold and it vaporizes. It will adhere to the silver surface readily as if it were spray painted on there. The hardness of the surface will be low.

Note: It would be better if you made a Plexiglas disc to hold the electrodes and cover the end of the chalice, so you could put it under vacuum (the air in the chalice will remove heat from the aerosol gold molecules and make the surface less shiny).

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Russell Crow
- Dallas, Texas


 

Thanks, Russell.

Yes, sputtering of gold is a viable alternative to electroplating in some circumstances; and it's ideally suited when combinations of coatings are applied, like gold plus titanium nitride on jewelry. But I question the implication that it's a viable alternative for someone like Greg who wants a single specialty item coated.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 5, 2011

Oh my God, I can't believe what I'm reading on this page. The OP just wanted to plate something, for crying out loud! And the mods on the forum reply with, "Sure, this is finishing.com, where we expertish persons teach the layperson how to do things, and we know you want to plate something in nickel, so tell you what. We'll tell you how to do it: go read a book on the subject. Lots and lots of books on the subject. And don't forget to refer a friend to the experts on finishing.com!"
Then you guys go on a windy diatribe about the hazards of plating something, which follows this line: "Plating is serious business. You're dealing with corrosive chemicals known to the State of California to give the children in your neighborhood terminal cancer if they breath the stuff just once. You think handling radioactive waste is hazardous? The chemicals used in nickel plating makes radioactivity look like a mosquito bite! I mean, you're dealing with deadly chlorine gas, where one drop can burn straight through your steel-toed boot. And sodium chloride, which releases a lethal, deadly stinking gas cloud upon exposure to citric acid that will blanket several square miles, causing death all around. PLATING IS NOT FOR MORONS! You must come prepared wearing a radioactive suit, a 100psi halon fire extinguishing system, and fume-hood conduit throughout the working area. And this is if you just want to plate a doorknob or something..."

Glenn Steven
- san diego California, USA.

September 5, 2011

Hi, Glenn. Peace.

Future readers will decide for themselves whether it is you or I most guilty of exaggerating things :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 6, 2011

It's pretty funny to see a complaint about safety concerns. Plating uses a ton of chemistry, and if you've had formal education on it, you know that certain chemicals can harm you. But, what you don't know is just how badly or quickly unfamiliar chemical solutions can hurt you and others.

So good, you want to plate a doorknob? Well, I hope everyone gives the warnings before someone goes and harms themselves, their family, and their community!

Great advice is on this site, and the warnings are part of what's so great about it.

Jeremy Chan
- Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

December 25, 2011

I came across this thread looking for info on preparing a nickel electrolyte solution for plating coldroll steel.

I agree with some other posters above in regards to how the op's question really never got answered- So here's my question...

I'm a microbiologist (with a little knowledge in organic chemistry)- so I'm not a noob on handling chems, but I am a bit ignorant on the plating process (despite the countless hours of reading about it on-line.)

I have basically access to all the chemicals I need. I built a plating tank- and even a makeshift BSC to carry the fumes up & out of my garage.

I'm using an 8" x 1/4" .99.9% pure nickel filler rod for my anode- as for the solution- (like the op asks) I'd like some direction. I'm plating a few 16" x 2" steel cannon barrels.

As for chems- I have nickel sulfate, glacial acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid & sulfuric acid.

I see a lot of conflicting info on-line about how to properly prepare the steel to be plated- and an equally amount of ways to prepare a basic nickel electrolyte.

yes- I know there is no such thing as a "basic" solution just like there is no "basic" cookie recipe- but there are elements that every nickel plating solution has- and I was wondering what those are...?

for example- 3 tablespoons of nickel sulfate, 1 oz boric acid, 1 qt distilled water......

michael gambrazio
- worcester, mass USA


December 25, 2011

Hi, Michael. I thought Tom did pretty much answer this in the very first response. But to clarify --

The most common nickel plating solution is Watts' Nickel. It consists of:
- 225 to 300 g/l NiSO4.6H2O (nickel sulfate hexahydrate)
- 37 to 53 g/l NiCl2.6H2O (nickel chloride hexahydrate)
- 30 to 45 g/l H3BO3 (boric acid).

It is operated at 140° F, and a current density of up to 40 ASF.

Without brightening agents, this will not be bright as plated; you'll have to buff it for smoothness and brightness.

The easiest way to clean onesy-twosy items is to scrub them with a solution of powdered pumice, a little detergent, and warm water, using a tampico brush. Best of luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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