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Electroplating as art?

September 20, 2012

Q. A friend of mine is an artist and he currently is trying to paint on aluminum plate. The problem is only the unpainted areas "pop". My thinking was to try and use only metals. My thinking was that I could start with brass plate and coat certain areas with copper, then coat certain ares of copper with nickel. I have plated brass with copper and I am sure I could plate copper with nickel. But my question would be what do you guys think the best method would be. I am sure it would look amazing if done right. I am a chemist and deal mainly with reverse-electroplating and stripping, and I have no problems buying any chemical. I am looking for those 3 colors, copper, gold color and metallic, so any metals will do if they give those 3 colors. Thank you in advance for all your input.

Rick Norman
- Brick, New Jersey, USA

First of two simultaneous responses -- September 24, 2012

A. Try anodized or chemically oxidized aluminium; there are many differently coloured and light stable dyes for anodized aluminium (you can use 2-step inorganic pigment process too). Cotton dyes can be used too, or even food dyes (problematic light stability).
Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

Second of two simultaneous responses -- September 25, 2012

A. To selectively plate certain areas, your choices would be to either do brush plating, or to mask the areas that you don't want to paint before tank plating. Brush plating seems more in line with artistic crafts.

1. Nothing else is copper colored except copper, so that's your only choice for the first color.
2. Brass is close to gold in color, so brass or gold is one of your color choices.
3. For the silvery color your choices include nickel, silver, or rhodium (quite expensive). Good luck.


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

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