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Electroforming Research for Rapid Prototyping

I'm doing research on electroforming; the main idea is to obtain a piece in ABS material with a FDM system for rapid prototyping and then coat it with Nickel in an electroforming tank. After this we separate the Nickel lay so we have a mould of the original piece.

We have been investigating and found that we need a solution tank where we control temperature, pH and filter the solution, heaters and coolers, pumps, filters and another tank where we install the anodes and cathode.

We have found that it's necessary to clean the plastic piece and paint it with conductive-painting. It's also needed to put the granulated Nickel in a titanium rotative chest.

Do you know if everything is right? can you give me ranges of temperature, pH and Amperes? types of bath solutions? time of deposition? books or webs?

Thanks a lot

M. Eduardo PÈrez de la Torre
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

You are on the right track, Eduardo, but for a student project I would not complicate the matter by dividing the nickel solution into separate tanks for heating & filtering vs. anodes & cathode.

One polypropylene tank with in-tank electric heaters, an in-tank filter, anodes (sulfurized nickel chips in titanium baskets), and a place to put the object (cathode) would suffice. You should not need to cool the solution as it will operate at 140 degrees F. The pH does not need automatic control, but you should use boric acid to stabilize the pH, and sulfamic acid and nickel carbonate to lower and raise it. Amperes could be as low as 1 amp per square foot and as high as perhaps 40 amps per square foot.

See our "must have" booklist. You can also get a lot of information from the Metal Finishing Guidebook.

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

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