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topic 12117

How to electroplate Aluminum onto steel, stainless, copper, ABS

Current question and answers:

January 4, 2021

Q. Saw a video of someone plating Al onto Al. Wondering if plating low alloy Al onto die cast would help with anodizing or if that type of plating is long lasting or if that person got lucky once. Any comments, ideas welcome.

BTW, I accidentally anodized red onto galvanized Al roll flashing 0.3mm thick. Mistakenly mixed a 4% sulfuric solution, thick titanium wire and watched as almost no Vdc and amps would pass. After 15 min. it jumped to 50 Vdc, quickly turned off. Turned back on and zero V or Amps. Dyed anyway, sealed and 4 months later still good color. Did a quick NaOH smut and 1/2 hour de-smut with Oxalic Acid. Maybe that's the trick. Also alkaline degrease in ultrasonic tank. Have since duplicated the process. Thought I should add that info for anyone crazy enough to try it. Thanks for any input about the plating.

dale sturdedvant
- chapala, Jal. MX.




January 2021

A. Hi Dale. Please give us the URL of that video. It isn't possible to electrodeposit aluminum with any conventional electroplating process, as you'll read here.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


January 5, 2021

thumbs up sign Looks like I wasted some of your time, Ted. Looking most of the day and can not find it. Must have been half asleep. May had been watching Zinc plating. Close, but no cigar. Sorry. The amount of great info here has helped me so much, big thanks too all.

dale sturdedvant [returning]
- Chapala,Jal. MX.


January 2021

Zinc plating has a long history of pretending to be aluminum plating, Dale. In the 1990's I was involved in the replating of the ironwork/clock tower of Philadelphia's City Hall/Wm Penn Clock Tower which, when it was built in the 1890's, was claimed to be plated with aluminum ... but it was actually zinc plating of course.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


January 7, 2021

thumbs up sign Well Ted, I re-watched the video and he did admit you can not deposit Al directly onto Al. But only after he was burned on the comments. He then had to admit it was a zincate solution. Had a laugh though. As a hobbyist I'll try whatever looks the best way here, which is a goldmine of great info. Thank you for getting me on the right track. very helpful when your a 1st timer to this process. Having a hoot learning this stuff.

dale sturdedvant [returning]
- Chapala,Jal. MX.




Previous closely related Q&A's starting in:

2001

Q. I am looking for information regarding the electroplating of aluminum onto an aluminum substrate in a non-aqueous solution. A colleague indicated that he had read about this process some years ago.

Any info or leading references would be helpful.

Christopher Feger
- Liberty, South Carolina


2001

A. There is a company that is electroplating aluminum, but I don't know if they can plate it on aluminum. I would suggest you look at Ion Vapor Deposition (IVD) of aluminum instead. You can probably find a company near you that can do the job.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California


2001

A. To my knowledge there is one (count 'em) shop in the country that commercially electroplates aluminum, and it involves non-aqueous electrolytes and sealing out air from the process -- so this is not something that you casually just up and do.

As Jim says, aluminum is usually deposited by IVD, and in fact it's a common practice to deposit pure aluminum onto lower purity alloys by IVD.

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


2001

A. Mr. Feger - IVD is NOT the only option to get an aluminum coating. There are many processes to "aluminize":

--Cladding
--Hot Dipping
--Flame Spray
--IVD, CVD, PVD
--Electroplating

The method used to achieve an aluminum coating will depend on what your component is (i.e., cladding is typically used in the aerospace industry for large sheets), and what your specifications are for the layer, etc.

The company you are looking for is us (not the only company in the world, but one of only a couple).

Brenda L. Struck
AlumiPlate, Inc. - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



2001

Q. Trying to find a way to electroplate aluminum onto mild steel.

Brandon Harmon
- Cedar Springs, Georgia, USA


2001

Q. Hi Brandon,

I was about to ask the same question as you about plating of aluminum onto stainless steel, but I am glad you did it for me. I would like to share with you what I have found in this regards. The process is called "Aluminizing" and it is a thermal spray process. You can find more information by (searching the internet) I hope that helps you. Please share with me anything else you find about it.

Thanks,

Reynaldo Arroyo
- Palmdale, California, U.S.A.


2001

A. Hi Brandon and Reynaldo. Aluminum cannot be electroplated out of a conventional aqueous plating bath because it is too active a metal, so all of the electricity goes to electrolyzing hydrogen out of the water instead of depositing aluminum. But it is not impossible to electroplate aluminum; rather it is a specialized process which must be done out of molten salts or special organic solvents. It may also be possible to electroplate aluminum via the rapidly developing field of ionic liquids, although as of this writing ionic liquids are not used in plating shops to my knowledge.

Alternately, aluminum can be deposited by a vacuum process (vacuum metallizing) or by Ivadizing, and as Reynaldo mentions by flame spraying. Every process has limitations: some are line-of-sight only, some are limited by chamber size, etc. Consequently, you must specify in some detail exactly what you are trying to do (production rate, part size and shape, how thick the aluminum should be) before people will be able to best help you. Good luck.

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


2001

A. Hi,

I don't know if this helps, but I have also been interested in plating steel with aluminum. I was recently contacted by a gentlemen from Alumiplate, who was very helpful. You may wish to check out their site.

Good Luck,

Joe Trattner
- Bartlett, Illinois, USA


A. Hi. There is a Siemens Sigal® process for electroplating aluminum, which is based on an alkyl aluminum fluoride in toluene and operates at 100 °C, which might be similar to what Alumiplate does; there is also molten salt plating, CVD plating, maybe other processes -- but 'conventional' electroplating from aqueous solutions is not possible because aluminum is too active.

Luck & Regards,

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



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



2001

Q. Is there any method to plate aluminum to a ABS surface?

Kapila Jayasinghe
- Katubedda, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka


2001

A. Kapila:

There is no common knowledge of electrolytic plating of aluminum at low temperature. But there is a conventional Al vacuum coating used extensively on all kinds of plastics.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



Plating aluminum onto stainless steel

2002

Q. I'd like to know where exists the method of plating stainless steel with Aluminum. How does it work? Who are the suppliers? My interest is related to increase the life of stainless steel plates (304 or 316 grades) at temperatures around 1000 °C.

Norval Rodrigues Oliveira
- MG, Brazil


2002

Dear Mr. Oliveira,

A. It is indeed possible to plate products with aluminium, though not out of a conventional (aqueous) plating bath. Aluminium can be deposited from organic solutions. I know that a German company has a process which deposits aluminium on products.

Sjamp van Esch
Sjamp van Esch
- Eindhoven, The Netherlands


2002

A. Alumiplate is another brand name for plating products with aluminum.

tom & pooky toms signature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

2002

A. Mr. Oliviera,

We can plate 300 series stainless steel with a high purity Al coating. Although the coating itself could not survive up to 1000 °C, I assume you would want to anodize it. Let me know what questions you have. We have several customers that routinely anodize the coating for their applications.

Regards,

Gus Vallejo
Alumiplate - Minneapolis, Minnesota


February 16, 2009

A. It is possible to plate Aluminium, the only solution for this which has been commercially realised is the Sigal process , which has been invented in 1973. It uses Toluol as solvent, the problems with it are: it has to be absolutely water-free, you need an inert-gas atmosphere over your electrolyte, and the electrolyte is decomposing over time due to its instability.
This makes the process very expensive; to my knowledge there are only 3 or 4 companies in the world working with it. If the workpieces you want to be aluminium coated are not sensitive to heat, a PVD coating will be much cheaper.

Marcus Hahn
- Lucerne, Switzerland



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MIL-C-5541 vs MIL-C-83488

2005

Q. I have some Al6061 machined and A356-T6 cast aluminum parts which are going to work in a marine environment (not fully or partly submerged). Those parts were high-purity-aluminum coated according to Mil-DTL-83488 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] but lately it's getting harder to find a local supplier for the process. What I wonder is what would I lose if I choose to chemical-conversion coat those parts according to Mil-C-5541 [link is to free spec at Defense Logistics Agency, dla.mil]. The parts are painted according to Mil-C-85285 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] after the coating process. What would be the case if the parts were going to be used in a non-marine environment? And finally, I also have one titanium alloy part which is coated according to MIL-DTL-83488. Is there any alternative coating methods for it? Thanks for the help in advance.

Metin Turan
Mechanical Engineer - Turkey


2005

A. This is one where you will have to go back to the customer and ask what the alternatives are.

I would be surprised if you could just drop the Aluminium coating, especially as this is going to affect the dimensions of the part.

You don't mention whether this is a Type I or Type II coating (although for use in a marine environment one may expect it to be Type I because of the potential environmental damage of the hexavalent chrome).

Directly replacing Aluminium with chromate conversion means that you lose the thickness of the aluminium coating and so risk corrosion of the component at a much earlier stage,

For treatment of titanium the same really applies, that is, ask your customer.

Brian Terry
Aerospace - Yeovil, Somerset, UK


A. Hi Metin. MIL-DTL-83488 says the coating can be applied by IVD, sputtering, or the special organic electroplating methods of Sieman or Alumiplate, or any other method that works. But in addition to what Brian has mentioned, the general idea behind this spec is that the high purity aluminum it calls for has greater corrosion resistance than the substrate materials you mention.

Luck & Regards,

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



2006

Q. Sir:

I am a student and researching the electrodeposit aluminum from aqueous solution now. 3 electrode system,-1.2V and half hour deposit from 0.5M AlCl3.6H2O solution. and then annealing samples at 300-500 °C. However, before annealing and after annealing the samples totally are non-conductive. Although think it maybe anodized, I still want you can give me some advice if possible.
Thank you very much

Yours,

Zhang Qi
inha university - Incheon, Korea


2006

A. Not sure about the 3 electrodes, but Al wasn't electrodeposited. Anodized aluminum is nonconductive; however, the voltage is lower than typical for most anodizing solutions. Bare aluminum will passivate in air and water and oxidize further when heated, so non-conductivity is unsurprising.

Electrodeposition of aluminum, Al(+3) + 3 e(-) --> Al(metal), requires an emf of -1.662 V. However, in an aqueous solution, electrolysis of water occurs at a lower emf, -1.229 V, absorbing the electrical current. Search for an 'Electrochemical Series' table or 'electrolysis of water' for more information.

Electroplating of Al can be done in non-aqueous solutions, but rarely as a commercial process.
Aluminum is produced by electrical reduction of aluminum ore in a molten salt. Read about the Hall-Héroult process:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall-H%C3%A9roult_process

Le Châtelier's principle suggests altering reaction conditions may allow the desired reaction. The electrolysis of water proceeds with a large increase in volume: H2O(liq) --> H2(gas) + 1/2 O2(gas). The energy required for expansion from 1 mole of liquid water to 1.5 moles gas at 1 atmosphere pressure is 3.7 kJ. Using a closed system under extremely high pressure might prevent the electrolysis of water and allow electrodeposition of Al from an aqueous solution. Note, however, the Norwegian company Hydro has an electrolyser which produces hydrogen at a moderate pressure of 30 bar (29.6 atm) in order to save compression costs.

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California

contributor of the year

Finishing.com honored Ken for his countless carefully
researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
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which the finishing world continues to benefit from.



January 24, 2008

A. Aluminum cannot be deposited from solution containing water because of the reason Ken mentions. I am working on depositing aluminum from non aqueous solution at room temperature currently. You may find US patent number 6,083,647 filed by Takahashi et al. interesting.

Q. I also had a question about aluminum. Does anyone know of a chemical/ chemical mixture which will dissolve alumina but not aluminum?

Thank you,

Meenakshi Singh
- State College, Pennsylvania, USA


January 25, 2008

A. Thanks, Meenakshi. Alumina can be dissolved without attacking aluminum with a mixture of chromic and phosphoric acid. If you search the site for "strip anodized coatings" you will see a number of references to it including topic 3397. Good luck.

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



Electroplating aluminum from organic liquids

June 10, 2012

Q. Can you give some details about the above mentioned "Organic liquid" that can be used to plate aluminium?

Bidyut Bhusan
- Bhubaneswar, India


June 11, 2012

A. Hi, Bidyut.

There are probably a number of solvents that can theoretically be used.

"Studies on the AlCl3/dimethylsulfone (DMSO2) electrolytes for the aluminum deposition processes" by Jiang, Chollier Brym, Dubé, Lasia, and Brisard, (Surface and Coatings Technology, Volume 201, Issue 14, 2 April 2007, Pages 6309-6317)
suggests that AlCl3/dimethylsulfone (DMSO2) is a promising possibility. You can order a copy of the paper from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0257897206014484

But the previously mentioned Alumiplate is a commercial concern which electroplates aluminum out of an organic solution; naturally, they retain much of their knowledge of the topic as proprietary trade secret.

Good luck.

Regards,

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



Plating aluminum onto copper

February 9, 2009

Q. Are there processes for plating aluminum onto copper?
Thanks,
Ken

Ken Rosenblum
Plater - St. Paul, Minnesota


February 11, 2009

A. The only way I know of is to use ionic liquids and this is not commercial. You may be able to use PVD or sputtering technologies, but I do not know of it on a commercial basis

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


February 12, 2009

A. There is a vendor of aluminum plating process in the USA in MN (Alumiplate). But it is very expensive to buy and to operate, so it has limited commercial applications. In short, it is not practical for most applications.

You can coat parts by PVD deposition. Ivadizer is an old name for one of the processes.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


March 31, 2009

A. I have been coating aluminum by cathodic arc process on various substrates. Adhesion is pretty good. We can coat aluminum on copper also!

H.R. Prabhakara - Consultant
bangaloreplasmatek.com - Bangalore Karnataka India



Electrodeposition of aluminum using ionic liquids

May 24, 2010

Q. I am looking for ionic liquids on aluminum electroplating. I need thick and micro or nano scaled rough aluminum film on aluminum seed layer. This is due to improving the wettability between aluminum and liquid semiconductor. I don't know what kind of ionic liquid and setup tools because I am a beginner in this field. So, I need any information for aluminum electroplating.

Baek Hyun Kim
University of Missouri - Columbia, Missouri, USA


March 10, 2009

A. Many companies claim that aluminum can be electroplated using Ionic Liquids based solutions.
Ionic liquids is the next generation & water free electroplating technology .
You can find more information in the following link:
http://www.basionics.com/en/ionic-liquids/applications/metal/aluminum-plating.htm
This technology is still under development; materials may be degraded under air atmosphere .
Anyway it is recommended to follow up this new technology

Gabriel Schonwald
Bnei Berak, Israel

----
Ed. note Jan 2021: That domain name no longer works.



Coating nickel with pure aluminum

August 27, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I want to coat nickel with pure aluminium. Is it possible? If yes, then how?

Iqbal Ajmal
- Rawalpindi, Pakistan


August 29, 2013

A. You can vacuum evaporate aluminum onto nickel, or, if you need a denser coating, sputter deposit the aluminum.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California


August 29, 2013

A. Hello Iqbal!

When I want to coat with aluminum, I'll first use an ion vapor deposited technique: AMS2427 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] and Mil-DTL-83488 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] are two specifications that cover the process.

If I need a better, denser, more corrosion resistant or higher adhesive strength coating and I'm willing to throw more money at the problem, then I'll use the organic solvent electroplating process mentioned above. AlumiPlate is one company that does that process.

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart
metallurgist - E. Aurora, New York



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



Need to deposit pure aluminum on AA2024 aluminum alloy samples

December 13, 2013

Q. Hi everyone,

I'm a student working on a project with the goal to study shot-peened AA2024-T351 (aluminum-copper alloy) samples.

We use the Electron Backscatter Electron (EBSD) technique to observe the deformation of the grain substructure beneath the shot-peened surface (the area of interest is then a cross-section of the sample), but the results (indexation rate) were not always good. In order to enhance the quality of the diffraction patterns, an idea of my supervisor is to coat the samples with pure aluminum (a few µm only) to avoid an eventual edge effect occurring around the impingements. The dimension of the surface to be coated is typically of the order of 10 mm x 10 mm.

I tried to get some information all over the internet and further :), and I found this thread!

affil. link
ASM Metals Handbook Vol. 5: "Surface Engineering"
from
from Abe Books
or



or see our Review

In fact, I discovered that the electroplating of aluminum is not famous, but found on the ASM Handbooks Online that it seems possible (like Brenda L. Struck wrote). On their site, if you go for:

Volume 5 > Surface Engineering of Nonferrous Metals > Surface Engineering of Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys > Electroplating

You can find the table below in the article (featuring Aluminum-copper alloys):

Metal				Potential, mV(a) 
Magnesium -850 Zinc -350 Cadmium -20 to 0 Aluminum (pure) 0 Aluminum-magnesium alloys +100 Aluminum-copper alloys +150 Iron, low-carbon steel +50 to 150 Tin +300 Brass +500 Nickel +500 Copper +550 Silver +700 Stainless steel +400 to 700 Gold +950

Well, but it don't give anything on the process of the aluminum electroplating on Al-alloys, and like you said, guys, it don't seem to be the good way.

But concerning the IVD, I didn't find anything on the matter in the ASM Handbooks for the Al-Cu alloys, nor in the ASTM standards.

Is IVD the best solution for my samples?
Has anyone any precise references on the subject of getting a pure aluminum coating on aluminum alloys?

I will also try the references of Brenda L. Struck.

Thank for reading and I hope it will be useful for further students :)

Robin Lebon
Student at Ecole de Technologie SupErieure - Montreal, QC, Canada


December 13, 2013

A. Hi Robin. The subchapter you quote from ASM Metals Handbook, Vol. 5 is indeed about electroplating ONTO aluminum, and it does not seem to offer anything on ELECTRODEPOSITION OF aluminum. Each half of the proposition has its quirks because:
1). Electroplating of anything onto aluminum presents difficulties because of the instantaneous formation of aluminum oxides on the aluminum substrate. The most common solution is an immersion deposit of zincate, followed by electroless (autocatalytic) nickel plating, followed by whatever type of plating you seek for the top layer. The handbook addresses this half of the problem well.
2). Electrodeposition of aluminum is difficult because you cannot use aqueous baths -- the applied electricity hydrolyzes the water into hydrogen gas and hydroxide ion instead of depositing aluminum. You are limited to plating from fused salts or the previously mentioned patented organic solution.

While we perhaps could find some stuff about electrodeposition of aluminum for you, it might be such a large research project as to derail you from your present goal. I would suggest that consider simply contracting out the IVD coating of your samples to a jobshop. I'm quite sure that IVD is the best solution to the problem you have presented. Good luck.

Regards,

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


December 16, 2013

thumbs up signOk, good! So I will follow your advice with the IVD coating.

Thank you very much for responding ;)

Robin Lebon
Student at Ecole de Technologie Superieure - Montreal, QC, Canada


December 16, 2013

A. IVD is ok, but the coating will have an open structure, and is usually relatively thick. Given that this is an experiment, and you have small samples, suggest you look into sputtering. Sputtered aluminum will be much denser, and it will be easier to find someone in a university that will coat the samples for you. I know they have suitable equipment at the University of Illinois, Colorado School of Mines, UCLA, and Michigan, to name a few sites. You can also check with your local chapter of the American Vacuum Society.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California


December 17, 2013

thumbs up signThanks Jim. I gratefully yield to your knowledge of vacuum coating processes.

Regards,

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



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



October 14, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a part that is made from C11000 Solid Copper; my customer would like us to apply an Aluminum Finish.
Can this be done by electroplating or anodizing?

Bob McCormack
- Hamilton, Ontario, Canada



Thickness of Aluminium plating per MIL-DTL-83488 type II, class 3

June 8, 2015

Q. I would like to know what is the minimum and maximum plating specification for MIL-DTL-83488 type II, class 3. If you call out for class 3 does it mean that the plating must be no thicker than class 2? This specification only lists the minimum thickness so my question is if parts were delivered that meet class 2 would they also be meeting specification for class 3?

Terry Thomas
Engineer - Round Rock, Texas, USA



December 5, 2017

Q. Hi,
I am electroplating aluminium on a copper strip.
The corrosion has occurred at the anode but aluminium is not being deposited at the cathode. I have been using AlCl3 as the electrolyte. What could the reasons? And please suggest any solution to the problem.

Smarajeet Das
- Bhubaneswar, India


December 2017

A. Hi Smarajeet. Unfortunately there is probably no solution to your immediate situation because aluminum cannot currently be electrodeposited from AlCl3 in an aqueous solution. We appended your inquiry to a thread which explains why and what the options are.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


June 5, 2018

A. We have developed a solution to this problem using organic ligands to stabilize the Al center in such a way that the reduction potential is decreased to less than water. Thus allowing us to electrodeposit Al from aqueous media.

Best Regards,

Blake Woodyard, Chemist
LumiShield Technologies - Pennsylvania, U.S.A

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