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"Fiction stories involving plating"

June 18, 2021

Q. In a story I'm working on, two of the characters want to electroplate an iron disc with nickel, then silver, then copper. So far this is straightforward. But the top layer isn't a layer: it's a collection of various glyphs, and I was thinking to have them paint most of the copper with something non-conductive, then put the whole into the bath, thus plating only the exposed portions. Would this actually work?

Michael Telford
- Victoria BC

June 2021

A. Hi Michael. The public understandably doesn't know very much about electroplating, so when writers want to include it in their stories, we're always delighted to give them the full story so whatever they end up including, they can get it right :-)

It is no problem at all to do what you describe. Areas where plating is not wanted can be "masked" with 'platers tape' (not too different from electricians black tape) or with spots of liquid maskants (sort of a paste that hardens in the air). That paste can optionally be applied through a 'silk screen' (sort of like a stencil) rather than by hand, too. Finally, the techniques used in circuit board manufacturing can be especially applicable for patterns and glyphs. A thin sheet of UV-sensitive translucent plastic, or sometimes a thin paste, covers the entire item. Then UV light passes through a photographic film of the patterns you want, and the masking hardens in desired areas and can be washed away where it's not wanted; then you plate the item with the masking in place, and there's no plating where the masking is. In all of these cases the masking can be removed after plating.

Luck & Regards,

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

June 18, 2021

thumbs up sign Thank you very much. I had thought of all those techniques, and saw no reason they wouldn't work, but I wanted to confirm with people who actually know the subject.

Michael Telford [returning]
- Victoria, BC

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