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topic 19652

Electroforming of Silver

A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020


Q. I want to fabricate a hollow tube of Ag by electroforming process. The thickness of the tube should be 35 micron , the length should be 10 mm and the outer dia should be 150 micron. How can I do this?

Azizur [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Singapore


A. I suggest you use a disposable mandrel because the wall thickness is so small there will be little inherent strength in the tube. If you use a permanent mandrel, you may find it difficult to remove the electroform from the mandrel. You can use aluminium and dissolve it out in alkali. I would use a cyanide bath to deposit the silver and rotate the mandrel.

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


Q. Thanks Trevor Crichton.

Can you please tell me the composition of the bath. Does is require any surface treatment before the deposition?

If, how?

Azizur [returning]
- Singapore

Jeweler needs silver electroforming service


RFQ: I am a jeweler looking for a company that can electroform in silver, preferably over wax models or something else that can be removed. Are there any companies in North America that do this?

Catherine Allen
Jewellery Student - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs

Health & security needs for silver electroforming?


Q. Hi, I'm now wishing to set up my own tank to do silver-electroforming because it is the main process for my work (jewellery) and I wanted to know the equipment neccesary in terms of extraction and health and security regulations. Could you help me with those information or do you know who shoulod I ask about this? Thanks

Ornella Iannuzzi
student - UK


A. Practically all silver plating is done from a cyanide solution which is highly toxic.
As well as the obvious hazards, there is a problem in disposing of waste.
There is also considerable cost in purchasing silver anodes and plating salts.
If you do not have experience in handling toxic chemicals and electroplating technology, electroforming is best left to properly equipped professional shops.
Why not discuss your project with a local plating company. If you produce the masters, they can do the plating.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

Silver electroplating thickness max limit?

October 7, 2010

Q. Hello community,

My name is Gregory I am an artist and I am exploring all the different processes, that we as humans have developed.
I am interested in electroplating in its scientific and historical point of view.

Here especially, I want to explore the excesses or the limits of the process.
For example I want to leave a piece to be electroplated for as long as possible, a bit like a plant growing.
So I was wondering if you had experienced with does limits and if you have visual examples, stories and of course advices and even warnings for me?

Take care,

Gregory Chapuisat
artist - GENEVA, Switzerland

October 7, 2010

A. Hi, Gregory. Silver can be plated at least thick enough to "self standing". For example, jewelry can be manufactured by starting with a wax form, metallizing it, silver plating it, and then melting the wax away. When the plating is thick enough to be self standing like this, and the plating becomes the object rather than a coating on an object, it is sometimes called "silver electroforming". If you search for that term I think you will find the examples you seek. Good luck.


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

October 8, 2010

Q. Hello Ted,

Thank you for including my question on your website.

As English is not my first language and as I am discovering electroplating, it was hard for me to search with words what I was looking for.
But after spending a few hours on in your letters, I found those two below:

letter 37080 & letter 46603

Nickel trees is what I was somehow guessing would happen and I am delighted to see a few pictures of it. It reminds me of Fulgurite in a certain way.

If I understand for platers this is not really the best friend (nickel tree), but let's imagine that my goal it to create the biggest possible nickel tree.

What would be the kind of problems that I would face as it grows bigger and bigger?
How big could I go as a hobbyist? How big could a professional plater go?
Would I be able to modify the way it grows along the process?
Would it grow differently depending of the metal used to plate?

My curiosity is endless, I can't wait to try electroforming!

Take care,

Gregory Chapuisat

October 11, 2010

A. Hi,

I recall seeing a copper electroform that had run amok and looked rather like a coconut. I don't think there is any actual limitation on size.


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

October 11, 2010

A. Gregory, You can electrodeposit as much silver as you like if you start doing electroforming. As Ted says, this creates a free standing article, but the only limitation is the length of time you want to spend making it. I have seen electroforms that range in thickness from a few tens of microns up to and inch or so. There are numerous textbooks on the subject of electroforming, so it is worth consulting them for further advice.

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

Electroforming with non-cyanide silver

November 27, 2017 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello!
I have been copper electroforming jewelry for about 4 years now but get a lot of requests for silver because of sensitivities or just because of skin greening. I want to electroform with fine silver but don't want to use cyanide based solution. Does anyone know of a recipe for successfully getting a thick silver plate similar to when using copper? I know it can be done but haven't been able to find the correct recipe.
Thank you!

Lori Campbell
Designer - Etters, Pennsylvania USA

December 2, 2017

A. You can try next solution: 200 gms potassium ferrocyanide [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]/20 gms potassium carbonate/40 gms silver chloride/1 lit water/SS anodes. Pyrophosphate based bath can be used too.
I think that there is at least one proprietary bath (SILVERON GT-101 Bright Silver). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

affil. link
"The Dose Makes the Poison"
from Abe Books


December 6, 2017

A. Potassium ferrocyanide based plating solutions are oldest cyanide free silver and gold plating processes (1843 !!)
Potassium ferrocyanide is nontoxic, and is not decomposed to cyanide in the body. Lethal dose for rats is 6400 mg/kg - it is harmless if compared with potassium cyanide (10 mg/kg for rats). It and the related sodium salt are widely used as anticaking agents for both road salt and table salt (FDA approved!) Hope it helps and good luck!.

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

January 5, 2018

Amateur hobbyist. Here is my go-to silver plating recipe. Mixing isn't as straight forward as throwing everything together, so pay attention.

Dissolve 5 g SILVER NITRATE into 250 ml distilled water. Dissolve 4 g KOH (POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE) into 100 ml water in separate container.
Pour KOH solution into silver solution and stir, it will turn black.
Slowly add 8 g PYRROLIDINE (SUCCINIMIDE) while stirring until clear.
Add 4 g more pyrrolidine, 4.5 g KNO3 (POTASSIUM NITRATE), and 2.1 g more KOH. Stir.
Add 1.5 g AMMONIUM THIOSULFATE (or 3 ml Kodak Rapid Fixer part A) as the brightener.
Half a drop of DAWN dishwashing detergent.
Add 425 ml more water.

Use very low voltage, start at 0.1 Volt, over-voltage will make dull finish. Copper will auto plate with no current. Use pure silver bar on positive, work on negative.

Hope that helps. Works for me.

- Wisconsin, USA

May 17, 2020

Q. Mr. Dolata, is that recipe for electroplating only or can it be used for silver electroforming too?

Monica Leftwich
- Newport News, Virginia, USA

May 2020

A. Hi Monica
David's posting was from 2-1/2 years ago and we should probably leave him rest after his careful efforts toward clarity (no auto-completes for David) ... but we'll e-mail him and see if he responds :-)

Luck & Regards,

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

Thick silver Electroplate in a Home Studio

October 10, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello,
I am a jewelry artist and currently do a lot of electroplating in copper, and some finishing in silver.
My question is, I would like to electroplate a thick layer of silver, possibly over a base of sterling, but how do I achieve this? I am looking to create my pieces from my home studio. Any suggestions? I have done a lot of researching, but can't find what I need. I would appreciate any help you can offer me. ~Suz

Suz Priestas
- Ashland Ohio

October 2020

Digital version

(No longer published, but a copy is on Academia.edu)
Download it before it disappears.

A. Hi Suz. Almost all silver plating is done from a toxic cyanide based solution as it has been for nearly 200 years, but cyanide has no place in a home studio. You might investigate the availability of a non-cyanide plating solution from EPI (Electrochemical Products Inc.) [a finishing.com supporting advertiser], or a hobby plating supplier, or others.

As for how to do it, the Metal Finishing Guidebook has a very good chapter on silver plating, including surprisingly detailed info on non-cyanide plating processes. After that you can search the site for lots of Q&A's about silver plating. Good luck!

Luck & Regards,

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

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