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"Gold plating an unknown substrate"

March 30, 2016
60150-1a 60150-1b

Q. Dirty, dull and un-even looking paint. I have some decorative metal pipes from China. I wanted to brush plate them in gold. They looked like they were already plated in replica chrome or stainless steel but upon first attempt to plate, it did plate but patchy and dull and uneven. So it's not either. They were de greased and activated.

So I then tried to see if I could strip the current plate by reversing the current. This left the plate very murky and nasty. So I was told that these tubes were zinc plated. So I got a nickel strike. Now, strangely, one came out satisfactory but still dull. One plated pretty much similar to before, and one it did nothing to. These all looked the same starting, shiny chrome.

I'm using a brush plate with a dc/ac
Using ss at 12v for the degreaser
Using ss 12v reversed for the stripper
Using nickel 4v with the strike
Using ss 9v for the gold plate.

Does anybody have any ideas of things I could try to work out what is going on? Thanks.

Daniel Hunter
- Uk

April 8, 2016

A. Hello Daniel, keep in mind that whatever the substrate (zinc) looks like, is what your final finish will look like. A nickel strike cannot build brightness like a bright Ni plate. In brush plating, gold is only a very light coating so it is also reflective on the underplate or substrate metal. Can the parts be polished before any plating? If so you will need a good soak cleaner. If you start out with a clean, bright substrate, you have a lot better chance achieving a good looking plate.

Mark Baker
Process Engineering - Phoenix, Arizona USA

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