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topic 12265

Need help with Iron Plating Process

An ongoing discussion from 2002 through 2015 . . .


Q. Dear sir,

I have problems with iron plating on copper base in thick deposition (0.1 mm) it should be ductile too. In fact I do not know the solution and bath condition (or additives either) the texts are not working good enough.

Farzad Abar
Sarif univ. of tech. - Tehran, Iran


A. Hi Farzad. A quick intro to iron plating can be found in the Metal Finishing Guidebook. Your inquiry is very broad. You may want to start with a literature search on iron plating. After you have weighed the merits of fluoborate iron vs. iron sulphate vs. iron chloride, etc., you can look into the specific additives and operating conditions. In general, however, iron plating is not at all ductile.

You don't tell us what you are iron plating or why, or the chemical or thermal environment it will see, so it is difficult to make recommendations. If you need ductility, you might want to see if nickel plating or some other plating is a possibility, but we can't offer a good guess what might be a good substitute unless you tell us what you are trying to do and why. Thanks.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Brighteners for iron plating


Q. Dear sir,

We would like to know what is the best brightening agent for our chloride or sulfamate iron plating bath.

Best regards,

John Fisher
- Chicago, Illinois, USA


A. Hi, John. In the USA please try to do yourself the favor of buying a proprietary iron plating solution rather than trying to invent your own. Home-brew iron plating is very uncommon and most end users don't have the necessary organic analysis instrumentation to control additions -- instead they rely on the support of a process supplier. I personally don't know what additives they are using, but wouldn't be allowed to tell you if I did -- this stuff is still trade secret rather than generic info as far as I know. But best of luck.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Expected salt spray resistance of iron plating

Q. Hello!

Would you be so kind to provide us with information about additives in electrolyte and deposition conditions to improve corrosion resistance of plated iron coating. What are the best results in terms of ASTM (salt spray test) Maybe you have have information about comparison with other materials (for example stainless steel)


Mila [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
electroplating - Haifa, Israel

Hi Mila. Iron rusts immediately so, although I could be wrong, I'd expect the salt spray resistance of iron plating to be virtually zero.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.


Q. Hello there:

My name is Eduardo Herrera from Mexico I Would like to know if somebody who has experience with Ferrous Iron Fluoborate plating process can get contact with myself and share some experiences with the composition, constitution and work for this plating process bath.

I would appreciate the opportunity and the possibility.

Best regards,

Eduardo Herrera
tools manufacturing - Queretaro, Mexico

March 11, 2011

Q. We are having issues with our iron fluoborate bath. We run a test part daily to verify that we are getting what we expect. Our last couple of test parts have been substantially lower than normal, well over three standard deviations away from the mean. I have analyzed the bath, and we are in the center of spec for NaCl (6.3 oz/gal), at the bottom edge of spec for pH (3), and slightly over the top end of spec for iron (14.7 oz/gal). I would not have expected too much iron to result in too little coating. I have gone through and checked the electrical system, and have found no issues. The amp-hour totalizer shows the normal amount for the test piece. I am out of ideas of what may be causing this.

Chance Rose
Plating shop employee - Salt Lake City, Utah

March 15, 2011

A. Chance,
Low pH will in essence shut down plating. High pH will give an ugly product as well as nodular, burnt plating.
Correct the pH with an appropriate alkaline material. Check with the mfgr. to see what they recommend.
If you use caustic (sodium hydroxide) do it with a dilute solution with very slow additions and lots of agitation or you will precipitate some of the iron out and it will be slow coming back. If there is a buffer in the solution, the pH will rise to a point and then seem to stay there forever and then massively jump as it reacts with the buffer. This normally coincides with your frustration and adding a bit larger addition. Remember, pH is logarithmic. It takes about 10% as much to go from 3.9 to 4.0 as it took to go from 3.0 to 3.1.
Do not expect the pH to be the same a few min after the last addition as it will be several hours later.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Plating iron on cast iron

March 12, 2011

Q. Hi dear friends, I need to electroplate iron over cast iron; it's possible?

Joffre Lautaro Benavides Seminario
car restorer - Cuenca Azuay Ecuador

March 14, 2011

A. Hi, Joffre.

Iron plating is an acid-based plating process, so it should be compatible with plating onto cast iron -- although I'm not personally familiar with iron-on-iron plating. But iron is a difficult plating process, probably not well suited to heavy deposits. A normal restoration process would probably be hard chrome plating, or heavy nickel plating, or possibly brazing and grinding. Are you sure that the plating need to be iron?


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Ed. note: This site has many additional threads about iron plating; please put 'iron plating' or 'electrodeposition of iron' into the search box near the top of the page.

Iron Plating on Aluminium

September 7, 2015

Q. I have an aluminium base that must be aluminium. On it I have to plate iron. I have filings in the form of black oxide.

The question:
Can I use dilute muriatic acid with hot water with the filings and a steel terminal to plate the aluminium?

I've never done this before but I'm somewhat versed in the process and have the necessary precautions.

John Wilkinson
Hobbyist - Clearwater, Florida USA

September 2015

A. Hi John. This sounds doubtful. You have two problems to start with that demand some experience. First, you can't plate directly onto aluminum, but must zincate it first. Second, unlike the situation with some other metals, it can be hard to keep the iron dissolved at the right oxidation state (ferrous), as it will want to oxidize to the ferric state, from which it can't be plated.

I'm not saying it can't be done; but if you haven't done plating before, you might want to try some easier stuff first :-)

It might help if you told us why you need to plate with iron rather than something easier like nickel, and how thick the iron plating needs to be, and what you plan to do to keep it from quickly rusting away.

Luck and Regards,

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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