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topic 24316

Bronze Plating Processes, Procedures, and Problems

This thread is about the traditional dark bronze platings

• For more info on Bronze Plating Solution Make-Up and Parameters, please see Thread 1114

• For info on White Bronze Plating, please see Thread 49751

Current question:

December 12, 2020

Q. Plating for watch components: I have several watch cases that I want to use to build better watches. I'm starting with a large case that is "bronzed" but I want a good bronze plating on it. The dial is apparently unique (size and shape) and I have to have a new one custom made and want it bronzed also; but then lacquered to prevent oxidization while I want the case to age.

(After this will come a large chronometer and a stupid green case that I love the texture of and I think it would look great in rose gold. These are 1 at a time projects, but there are several and I know there will be more as I break down what I have into good and garbage).

Patrick Hudson
- Lehigh Acres, Florida
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Q. Would anyone have information on bronze electroplating systems?
Where they can be bought, how do they work, etc.

Thanks, Joe.

Joe Prevatt
metal fabrication - Tallahassee, Florida

affil. link
"Electroplating Engineering Handbook"
by Larry Durney
from Abe Books
info on Amazon


A. Hi Joe. Bronze is one of a few dozen metals and alloys that can be electroplated. It can be plated for functional or decorative reasons. There would be a number of preliminary cleaning and acid activation stages, then the plating step proper, then possibly some tarnish preventers, or lacquers, etc.

You can buy an amateur level brush plating system for a few hundred dollars, and a professional level brush plating system for a few thousand. But you can also easily spend a million dollars or more for a fair size automated bronze plating installation. Please tell us about your needs and something about your background and your company, so we have a good place to start. Good luck.

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


A. "Bronze" means different things to different people.

To the metallurgist bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

To the architect or plating job shop, bronze is a "color". To get the particular shade of color you need, you may experiment by mixing copper plating solutions with zinc plating solutions sometimes having to add a bit of an alkaline tin. You might also get the color bronze you need by merely increasing the copper content in a standard brass plating solution.

In the 1950's some architect in Atlanta specified a particularly difficult shade for the wall light switch covers in the restoration of the state capitol. As a co-op student from Georgia Tech working at a dirty job shop, I was able to get his color by blending my standard brass solution with our standard alkaline stannate tin solution.

robert probert

Robert H Probert
Robert H Probert Technical Services
supporting advertiser
Garner, North Carolina

Ed. note:
abstract questions


Q. I would appreciate being led to bronze electroplating procedure.

Majid Ghahari
- Tehran, Iran

A. Hi, Majid. We have a number of threads on line here that specifically address bronze plating, including:

Are you looking for a heavy functional bronze for engineering purposes or a decorative layer on top of nickel plating? There are whole libraries devoted to electroplating, so it's very difficult to distill it down to a couple of paragraphs unless you tell us your situation. For example are you working for an established plating shop and experienced in many different plating procedures like brass, but not bronze . . . or have you not electroplated at all before?

Best of luck and Regards,

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

Bronze plating on steel plate for exterior use?


Q. Looking for advice on plating techniques for outdoor metal finishes. I'm an architect and furniture designer, and I'm working on a bench design that uses metal structurally. I want it to be dark in color, like bronze or gun-blued steel. But I also want it to be thin, so structurally I need to use steel. (We looked into bronze, but it would need to be 3/4" or 1" thick plate - heavy and expensive!) Is it possible to have mild steel plated in bronze? Will that be a durable finish when exposed to weather? (Obviously we don't want the steel to rust.) Or any other ideas for dark patinated finishes (not paints or powdercoats) for exterior metalwork? Thanks!

Peter Larsen
architect - San Francisco, California, USA


A. Copper plating with oxidised or patina finished may be the only viable option for architectural use.

Khozem Vahaanwala
Khozem Vahaanwala
Saify Ind
supporting advertiser
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
saify logo

August 29, 2009

Q. Hi My Name is KISHORE. Actually I got a problem with my plating unit, it is bronze plating. when I am starting plating arranging desired current, but if it would be down 0 current and also plating surface getting straight lines after plating, so kindly solve my problem. mostly I like to know the testing procedure to get the Bronze salt-a, salt-b, Potassium cyanide and Potassium hydroxide in the chemical.

thank you..

Kishore Singu
shop floor manager - Hyderabad.Ap&India

January 28, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I'd like to know differences between bronze plating and brass plating.

Currently I'm using brass plating to do antique brass finish, but mostly I'm not able to match the antique finish as per the sample I receive from clients. How can I adjust the colour in brass plating, like more yellow or antique brass. Many times I fail to match antique finish colour. Please advise.

Shahid Ahmad
- Dubai, U.A.E.

January 30, 2012

A. Hi, Shahid.

We appended your inquiry to a thread where Bob Probert explained that if you're good at it and patient it may even be possible to simply mix an alkaline brass and an alkaline tin bath for some colors. The previously mentioned letter 1114 says that you can buy the solutions from Macdermid, and also includes some formulation information.

Despite this though, you might consider trying to get the desired color via electrophoretic lacquering, or via blackening and clearcoating if color is your chief concern.

Regards and good luck,

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

April 2, 2012

Ed. note:
abstract questions

Q. Can a yellow bronze plated object be successfully plated with gold plating?

Mr. Bhupendra Upadhyay
- Mumbai, India

April 3, 2012

A. Hi Bhupendra.

I don't see why this should present a problem, but an intermediate layer of nickel is probably desirable if you are looking for a bright gold plate; otherwise, an intermediate layer of copper and/or gold strike might be necessary. But answers to non-specific questions are often misleading because there are so many possible "ifs, ands & buts" that can't all be covered in every forum answer. Please tell us as much about your own situation as you can for a good answer. Thanks.


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

March 13, 2013

Hi folks,

I have been sent some 'gold' coloured buttons (from some sort of garment I believe), there is a customer complaint regarding tarnishing and having looked at them they do have brown patchy tarnishing in certain areas, maybe approx. 10% of surface area in seemingly random patches, looks like brass tarnishing.

I have analysed them microscopically and using XRF and they are a 60/40 brass with approx. 2 microns copper underplate and what appears to be a yellow tin bronze (quite gold coloured) which is approx. 1 micron. there is no lacquer coating.

I was wondering what the general tarnish resistance of yellow tin bronze is? I think it is pretty good but not as high as the white bronze?

I assume copper will migrate into the thin bronze plating (and tin from the bronze will migrate into the copper)? This will lower the tarnish resistance of the bronze plating I assume? Any idea how long does this take at room temperature, are we talking just months or years? and could copper migration be a cause of the tarnishing, would it very significantly lower the tarnish resistance?

I think a typical yellow bronze is something like 80% copper, 10 -15% tin and 2.5 - 5% zinc, that correct?

I was wondering what to tell the customer as an explanation for the tarnishing, and how big an effect this copper migration may have. The bronze plate is only about 1 micron but that should be thick enough to be reasonably coherent and not porous I assume. I don't suppose there is a significant galvanic effect between bronze and copper.

The actual environment/chemicals, etc. the buttons have been exposed to and how long the buttons have been in use is relevant, but unfortunately that info wasn't provided.

Well, any help/comments would be greatly appreciated.


Steve Jones
Technologist - Sheffield, UK

sidebar March 17, 2013

thumbsdown Right, well that's all a lot clearer now. Thanks for the help.

Steve Jones [returning]
Technologist - Sheffield, UK

thumbs up signHi Steve. Sorry that you didn't get a quick answer, but if your need is urgent, there are metal finishing consultants eager to be retained.

In this public forum, people help each other out when they can -- but someone experienced in bronze plating and with time to help might only drop by every week or two at best. Please consider this as a resource which allows you to instantly search tens of thousands of previous Q&A's about metal finishing and enjoy the camaraderie of your peers, rather than a place that promises immediate personal help on every possible question. Good luck, and be the change you'd like to see: we always have lots of questions that would benefit from your input :-)


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

December 9, 2019

Q. Hi. I use the makeup solution in the plating workshop to make the bronze bath. Does anyone know the nature of this solution? Thank you.

Fateh heydari
- Iran

December 2019

affil. link
Practical Electroplating Handbook
by N.V. Parthasaradhy
from Abe Books or
partha book
See our review

A. Hi Fateh. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, so those two metals are probably in the makeup solution, and most bronze plating baths are cyanide-based. Parthasaradhy =>
suggests copper cyanide, potassium stannate, potassium cyanide, potassium hydroxide and Rochelle salt. Copper is complexed by cyanide, and tin by hydroxyl, making it possible to control the ratio of copper and tin that are plated.

Lowenheim's books, both "Electroplating" [affil. link to book on Amazon] and "Modern Electroplating" [affil. link to book on Amazon] have good coverage of bronze plating. Do you know whether your anodes are bronze, or copper, or what? Please tell us about your situation and why you'd like to know the details of the replenishment solution -- your question might involve proprietaries people can't comment on, or it may be simple and generic. Thanks!


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