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topic 0848

Phosphorized vs. OFHC Copper Anodes for copper plating


Q. Phosphorized or OFHC Copper Anodes. Do these two types of anode formulations respond differently to different Copper plating bath chemistries? Should one be used for Sulfate, one for Cyanide, etc, and what problems will be brought about by using the wrong one?

Dave Kinghorn
Dave Kinghorn
Chemical Engineer
SUNNYvale, California


A. Hi dave.

Amax Copper [Greenwich, CT] has flyers on both Phosphorized and OFHC copper anodes that explain in a good bit of detail where they perceive each to be best and why. When they sent me an info packet, it included reprints of a couple of articles on the subject. From a quick glance it looks like phosphorized are suggested for copper sulphate because the phosphorous decreases the anode efficiency, minimizing copper buildup.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Q. Let me rephrase it: We have all read the process technical data sheets specifying the anode types called out for various chemistries. The question is "why". Why does one anode formulation respond differently than another when exposed to various chemistries and can these differences be exploited in different ways? For example could the anode efficiency be "tuned" by mixing anode types in the baskets? For high speed plating can P build up in the bath? Does one type withstand higher current density demands than another? These "what-if's" are important questions to ask when designing high-speed processes for electronics/aerospace applications.


Dave Kinghorn
Dave Kinghorn
Chemical Engineer
SUNNYvale, California


A. Modern Electroplating, 4th edition covers SOME of the reasons for anode choice on pages 180,192 and 210; cyanide, acid and pyrophosphate solutions respectively.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Ed. note: Thanks for the research, James. Indeed, Modern Electroplating seems to have a very good treatment of the subject.


Q. Question from the previous letter --

Which type of Copper Anode is used for the Acid Copper Plating Bath, Phosphorous or Electrolytic? Can anyone please give me the following: SOURCE of ANODE & ANODE BAGS?

Ed Cherney


A. Hi Ed

Phosphorized anodes are recommended for acid copper (to reduce growth of copper concentration in the solution, I believe); but talk to the supplier referenced above or to Carter Alloys Company [a supporting advertiser] or Tally Metal SAles about this, and for sourcing of anodes and anode bags.

This site is made possible for camaraderie and technical discussions by our supporting advertisers, and it really wouldn't be right to spend their money steering readers to their competitors.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

We merged several threads together so readers wouldn't have to search as hard for all of the threads on this topic. Excuse the duplication.

-- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear sirs:

I would like to know if there is any disadvantage in using phosphorized copper anodes (0.04-0.06 phosphorous) in a cyanide copper bath instead of electrolytic or oxygen free copper anodes?.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Oscar Infante
- Santiago, Chile

A. I think one major disadvantage is phos copper anodes cost more. Maybe someone more experienced than I will know of plating disadvantages. Don't think there are, not sure.

Bill Hemp
tech svc. w/ chemical supplier - Grand Rapids, Michigan

2004 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have discontinued my acid copper sulfate bath. I have around 1,000 lbs of phos-copper anodes that I used in this process. I also have a couple of generic cyanide copper strike and plate tanks. I was wondering if I could use my phosphorus doped anodes in my cyanide baths. I am currently using oxygen free anodes in the strikes. The cyanide anode bags aren't bagged. I can sell the phos-Cu anodes if need be, but it would be a lot easier to use them up in-house.


Trent Kaufman
Trent Kaufman
   electroplater - Galva, Illinois


A. Trent, No you can't not use them.


anders sundman
Anders Sundman
4th Generation Surface Engineering
Consultant - Arvika, Sweden

October 11, 2010

Q. We use oxygen free copper anodes in cyanide copper strike bath and phosphorised copper anodes in acid copper bath.

Now we've stopped the cyanide copper bath, can I use the balance of oxygen free copper anodes in the acid copper bath?
If the answer is yes, what kind of treatment do I need to do before apply the oxygen free copper anodes in acid copper bath.

Eng Chong Lim
Plating Shop Employee - Malaysia

March 29, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. What will happen if I use phosphorised copper anodes in cyanide copper plating, besides anode corrosion.

Sanjay Shinde
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

February 19, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We have a copper cyanide bath that has phosphorous contamination. One of the operators inadvertently added phos copper nuggets to the anode basket. The phosphorous content is around 300 ppm. We have brittle deposit from this bath. Has anyone encountered this problem?

Vijay Merchant
- Los Angeles, California, USA

September 5, 2013

Q. Hi all,

I work in an electroforming shop, and recently we were dissecting old anode baskets for our pyrophosphate copper and acid copper baths. Unfortunately, they were not marked with the type of copper contained in the anode basket. Until recently, the shape of the material was indicative of the type, but that has changed.

Is there a test to determine if the copper is oxygen free vs. pyro?

Thanks in advance,

Brian Minchen
- Rochester, New York

September 6, 2013

A. Brian,
If I understand the question correctly, one way to check is to heat treat. Oxygen-free copper will be clean and shiny after h.t., other copper will not be even if polished with a wire brush, et cetera.

blake kneedler
Blake Kneedler
Feather Hollow Eng. - Stockton, California

September 9, 2013

Q. Blake,

You did understand the question, and thank you very much for your response. What temp should I heat treat the copper at? Should I prepare the copper at all before I do this?

Thanks again,

Brian Minchen
- Rochester, New York

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