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Copper electroforming process generates mush, not hard metal

Ok, I'm in college here at millersville in the fine metals studio and I just dug out our old electroforming machine.......I am able to control the amperage with this's an electro-plater and under that it say I'm sure we're doing something right because we can get a rxn, but the only thing that appears to be accumulating on our pieces is a soft mushy, copper colored substance.....if you can shed a little light on the situation it would be very helpful..........we've been letting the pieces in the bath for probably 5-30 mins each time in a range of 2-15 amps....we've tried many different things.......we would just like to know if it's a problem with the chemicals we have (copper sulphate, sulfuric acid), or if it's the range of amperage that we are using......we know it's not the machine because we have seen previous projects that have been completed with it but we have yet to have any luck.......

Thank you very much

Doc Copper
Millersville University - Millersville, Pennsylvania, USA

Step one is to get the instruction manual that came with the "machine". Then read it and follow the instructions. Since you have in essence given no information relative to what is needed, My guess is that you are using far too much amperage for your piece and far too little time. Electroforming is a LONG process time for quality work.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Firstly, read the instructions for the equipment and then follow them. Secondly, check your plating solutions are in spec. Thirdly, check your power supply is giving what you think it is. Fourthly, get a book on electroforming and read it, so that you know the theory. First guess at your problem is that the solution is out of spec and/or the current density is much too high from your power supply.

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

Here's a link to a simple set of instructions:

Sounds like you have way too much amperage. Hope this helps.

Patrick Hill
- republic, Missouri USA
November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011

Thanks, Patrick! Although I think that Doc has progressed beyond anything that is offered by that link, I think you are right-on about excessive amperage. Typical electroforming current is maybe 1 to 5 amps per square foot and, depending on the size of his pieces, he is probably at 10 times that rate. Like you said, "way too much amperage".


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

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