netneut -- The Home Page of the Finishing Industry
A website for Serious Education, promoting Aloha,
& the most FUN smiley you can have in metal finishing has been free for 22 years,
but without net neutrality we could soon
cease to exist. Do us a solid, click on
the banner, and contact congress today!
topic 10897

Copper on titanium electroplating


Can someone help me with a copper plating problem?

I'm trying to plate copper on a titanium electrode in a solution of CuSO4, H2SO4 and a little HCl. The problem is that a very dark red(almost brown) very porous copper layer is formed on the titanium cathode. It is easily washed away with water after taking it out of the plating bath. It also seems like reaction tends to stop after a while, the current decreases when a constant voltage is used. When pH is low there is gas formation at the cathode, H2 I guess. What can I do to get solid bright copper?

Is it at all possible to plate copper on a titanium electrode?

Do I have to change the electrolyte composition or use any additives?

My composition is:

[Cu] 300 mM = 75 g/litre
[H2SO4] 90 ml/litre (95% H2SO4, pH<0)
[HCl] 0,16 ml/litre

Patrik Moller
- Lund, Sweden


Hi Patrik,

The first thing you have a very bad adhesion for the copper to titanium, is difficult to plate on titanium. I have some different pretreatments method to do this activation. When the current decrease is the same as your anodes is passive no current will go through the anodes. I think you can see a black film on your anodes. About your pretreatment you must explain more about how you did your pretreatment step before the copper plating. To get a more brighter copper deposit you can try this method. 50 gr/l Copper sulphate, 180 gr/l kalium natrium tartrat (Rochelle salt), 50 gr/l Sodium hydroxide.


anders sundman
Anders Sundman
3rd Generation in Plating
Consultant - Arvika, Sweden



Are you following the strict steps of activation in 3:1 HNO3-HF to red fuming and the dichromate? Are you controlling the HF content closely?. Your acid copper doesn't seem to be the problem. Please give us more info to better help.


Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


Thank you very much for your advise.

As pretreatment I've been using this cleaning process for both titanium cathode and copper anode:

1. Thorough washing in detergent solution
2. NaOH 10%
3. H2SO4/HCl 10%
Rinsing after each step.

After your replies I've also been trying the activation process with 1:3 HNO3:HF solution. There was a reaction taking place with gas formation(green). It was obvious that the solution etch the outer layer of the titanium electrode, it was smaller afterwards. Is the purpose to remove a TiO2 layer?

Unfortunately the plating wasn't much more successful afterwards. I still get the very porous dark copper that falls apart. It seems like there is a thin bright copper layer right next to the cathode, but when running the process for a longer time it is also converted into this porous material. Two times I've succeeded getting a thin bright deposit, but only when running the plating for a short while.

I have the option of depositing another metal layer on top of the electrode and now I'm thinking of what metal to use. Platinum or palladium should be good I guess, I want it to be a good copper seed material and at the same time very inert in the electrolyte. Another option may be to make the whole electrode in stainless steel. What materials are the best when it comes to copper seed properties?

One last question, what current density range should be used for a bright solid deposit according to you?

Best regards,

Patrik Moller
- Lund, Sweden

This public forum has 60,000 threads. If you have a question in mind which seems off topic to this thread, you might prefer to Search the Site

ADD a Q or A to THIS thread START a NEW THREADView This Week's HOT TOPICS

Disclaimer: It's not possible to diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations may be deliberately harmful.

  If you need a product/service, please check these Directories:

JobshopsCapital Equip. & Install'nChemicals & Consumables Consult'g, Train'g, SoftwareEnvironmental ComplianceTesting Svcs. & Devices

©1995-2017     -    Privacy Policy
How Google uses data when you visit this site.