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How to do quick electroplating of shoe molds?

I make quick molds for the shoe industry using spray metal backed by epoxy. I heard there is a new system of vat type electroplating that can build a nickel shell on a model 2 mm thick in an hour.
Do you what this process is?

Duane Shelton
shoe co - St. Louis, Missouri

It's called electroforming (a variant of electroplating). High speed e-forming is capable of building up that thickness and even more but times will be longer, perhaps on the order of 4-6 hours. The surface will be infinitely more dense than your actual process and the finish will absolutely replicate the mandrel to the sub-microscopic level. It is used when other processes cannot attain the desired surface quality (e.g. to replicate mirror finishes, stamping tools for holograms and CD's, etc.). Build-up materials are normally copper, nickel or nickel alloys. Some rare applications even require precious metals like gold.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

You can also have your shoe molds made from Nickel Vapor Deposition. It is a better process and is a stress free nickel unlike a electroplated sulfamate nickel. Electroplated nickel shells are hard to weld if damaged due to the sulfamate in the nickel. Nickel vapor deposition molds can be repaired because it is 99.98% pure nickel.

Greg Leidig
- Toledo, Ohio USA
November 24, 2010

Hi, Greg. Thanks. But please don't use phrases like "better process" here -- that's the phraseology for a sales brochure, not for a technical discussion board :-)

All processes have advantages and disadvantages compared to other processes. You have listed some advantages over electroforming. What are the disadvantages? Thanks.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
November 24, 2010

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