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How to activate idled pre-treatment solutions?

March 14, 2012

Q. Hi. My name is Roselynn Valdueza. I am working in an electroplating company which processes brass, copper and stainless steel based items in reel-to-reel.

Currently we have encountered hazy appearance/gloss on our nickel plated and nickel-gold plated reel-to-reel items. These items are processed in a machine that has been idled for more than a week. Prior to production, we have already check our solutions' concentration, additive concentration for nickel (through Hull Cell), pH, temperature from pre-treatment to post treatment and have also renewed our acid activation except for the pre-treatment solution. The pre-treatment solution was not renewed because it was only used for less than a week prior to non production of the machine. The quality of our plated products were rejected due to the hazy appearance/gloss.

Due to the urgent request of these items, we then renewed our pre-treatment solution and discarded the old one. Output for this new pre-treatment solution is then OK and no hazy appearance/gloss noticed.

We cannot afford to have the same reject and also cost for the renewal for the pre-treatment solutions every time we have no operation. We have already tried circulating our idled solution for 4 hrs prior to production but still we have hazy appearance/gloss output. With this, we would like to know if there are other ways that we can still extend the use of our pre-treatment solution even if it has been idled for weeks or a month?

Thank you very much.

Roselynn Valdueza
plating shop employee - Cebu, Philippines

You mention the pre-treatment solution many times, but don't tell us exactly what it is. You say you change out your activator, so is the pre-treatment solution a Ni strike? Please advise.

Mark Baker
Engineering - Mesa, Arizona, USA
March 18, 2012

March 20, 2012

For our pre-treatment solutions we used alkaline cleaners (degreasing, electrodegreasing solutions). While for our acid activation solution, we used Hydrochloric acids in different concentration depending on the items being processed (copper, brass or stainless steel).

Thank you.

Roselynn Valdueza
plating shop employee - Cebu, Philippines

Hmmm, this is a tough one. If you have isolated this hazing/dullness problem to the alkaline cleaners, I would check to see if there is any "settling out" of your Electroclean chemistry. If there isn't adequate cleaner concentration for the amount of current applied to that cell you will experience dullness of the substrate metal. With the cleaner up to temp I would then circulate for 10 minutes or so, then take a sample for titration analysis. This will tell you if there is any settling out of the solution. Hope this helps.

Mark Baker
Engineering - Mesa, Arizona, USA
March 25, 2012

Thank you Mark for this information. We will try to check our solution after days of being idle. I will update you thereafter.

Again thank you.

Roselynn Valdueza
plating shop employee - Cebu, Philippines
March 29, 2012

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