Electroplating - I Did It, Now Why Can't I Do It Again?
Regarding electroplating (www.finishing.com/0000-0199/064.shtml)
At some point in the past, I managed definitely to copper-plate some keys - of the sort used to gain entry to buildings - using a plastic cup full of salt water, a length of the ground conductor from some 12-2 Romex, and a computer power supply. Somehow I wound up with shiny copper keys. Now I'm finding stuff on your site saying there's no way to do that in a home environment. What gives? I don't know what kind of material the keys were made of, but I do know it worked. I've been sitting here for about an hour and a half trying to duplicate the experiment, and I'm noticing that I get all sorts of different results with different metals, but I don't know what kind of metal any of them are, so.. :)Michael Parker
- Dixfield, Maine, USA
Hi, Michael. We did not exactly say or mean to say that you CANNOT copper plate in a home environment. What we meant to say was a number of related things:
- First, that one needs to be very careful about safety issues and environmental issues when electroplating.
- Second, that this will limit what you can do, for example, cyanide copper plating is out of the question in a home environment.
- Third, that just because you may manage to get a good look to your plating does not mean it is really satisfactory functional plating; plating steel parts in copper sulphate will give you a non-adherent plating (will rub off or blister).
If you plate onto a nickel-plated key or a brass key, it may be possible to get an acceptable (for home use) copper plating from a copper sulphate solution. Maybe. You should be able to get acceptable plating on silver since it is a more noble metal than copper. Good luck!
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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