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Nickel in copper bath

I recently graduated school and have only been working a few months in the plating industry. I'm still learning a lot of things. The copper sulphate [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)]bath we use had nickel flakes fall into it from the hanging bars. Does anyone know if this will cause problems for the bath? Nickel is not listed as a contaminant in the copper bath manual I have, but I wanted to make sure.

Coult Giering


The particulate nickel is definitely an issue, Coult! I hope it wasn't your shop that plated these poorly plated anode rods :-)

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

First of two simultaneous responses --

Haha No, we sent the bars out to be electroless plated. It actually seems to be dissolving of the bars. Though the parts that were being plated at the time seem to have come out ok. Thanks for the response.

Coult Giering


Second of two simultaneous responses --

Hello Coult,
As Ted mentioned the nickel particulate can cause a problem. The reason that Ni is not listed as a common contaminant in manuals is probably because a nickel plate normally follows a copper plate, so the risk of dragging in nickel to a copper bath is almost nil. Water sources also don't normally contain nickel. Most platers choose solid copper buss bars for copper solutions for a few good reasons. Copper is an excellent conductor of current, and it is compatible with the copper solution. I assume "hanging bars" are the same as buss bars. To prevent this from happening again you should use copper for anode and cathode bars. A damp scotch brite pad cleans them up nicely to assure good contact. The amount of nickel flake that dropped into solution and your solution volume will tell you if you have a serious problem. Most of the flake has probably dissolved by now so you could dummy plate at 3-5 ASF while the tank is idle.

Mark Baker


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