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Electroforming a complex shape in thick copper


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September 1, 2021

Q. I have 3-D printed 'mold' which is 2 parallel plates 10x10 cm connected with 15000 "columns" 0.4 mm thick and 9 mm tall. I want to deposit copper over whole area, 9 mm thick. What would be best way to do so, and is it even possible?
Thanks in advance

Marin pericic
- Split, croatia

September 2021

A. Hi Marin. Please send a photo or drawing, or clarify the project because if those columns are plated with 9 mm of copper they will be nearly 2 cm in diameter, so only 25 could fit on 10 x 10 cm plate, not 15,000 of them.

Plating of 9 mm thickness is probably not impossible but is probably impractical. What are you actually trying to fabricate?

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

simultaneous September 8, 2021

Q. I want to create 10x10x0.9 plate filled with 0.4mm holes for one r&d project. My understanding is that copper will deposit around columns and afterwards i'd just melt mold.

Marin pericic [returning]
- Split, croatia

September 8, 2021

A. You want to plate inside your object and that is real problem - you must have anode and cathode inside.You can do that but you must use computer controlled process and 2 parts model.Print plate "I" and columns and than print plate "II". After that step you can electroform your 9 mm copper plate on plate "I" and then glue plate"II"on it. It is much simpler and better to use piece of 9mm thick copper sheet.
Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh 157 Croatia

September 9, 2021

Q. Picture shows newly created model; there is no need for top plate. What do you mean by using copper sheet? How could I perforate it in this way? I was thinking EDM but i can't find anyone in Croatia with equipment fit for the job.


Marin pericic [returning]
- split, Croatia

September 9, 2021

A. A picture is worth a thousand words...It can be done but I think you must use two 3 d printed parts and computer controlled electroplating system. Even in that case result can be of poor quality.Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh 157 Croatia

Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:

October 31, 2009

I need to form an extremely complex shape, and think plating will make what I need. The assembly will have a large number of small details. My plan is to make an armature of wax subassemblies, coat it with a conducting paint, and plate on metal. For several metallurgical reasons I want to make the item from copper. It needs to be self-supporting, and withstand a mildly corrosive environment, so a fine grain size is desired. I have ready access to scrap copper sheet, 99.99% pure, and plan to use that for the anode. Any recommendations for plating solutions, voltages and other ideas? In particular, which of the conducting paints work well?

Tom Howard
metallurgist - Dallas, Texas

November 2, 2009

Hi, Tom. If you do a literature search for "copper electroform" you'll find out some of the important issues for this project. Sierra Silver Spray or Electrodag might be good metallizing approaches and there are many others.

Complex copper electroforming is not an ideal project for a beginner in electroplating, so you might send the project to a shop that specializes in copper waveguides or other complex copper electroforms.

There is nothing wrong with trying stuff on the one hand, but some people who know of electroplating only from high school science class might not realize that there are both electroplating job shops as well as suppliers of electroplating processes. If it's important item, not just a learning experiment, at least contact a plating process supplier for the anodes and plating solutions.

Good luck.


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

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