First Attempt At Electro-Plating

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thor447

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I have successfully completed my first attempt at electro-plating. I have a few watch cases that were prepped by stripping the old plating and fully polishing the raw brass (which took ages doing by hand). About 2 weeks ago I bought a book on the subject of electro-plating. I read the book cover to cover a few times (it was a very small book), and I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the process of electro-cleaning, surface activation, and the application of bright nickel plating. I also received some help from a member of a watchmaker forum who provided me with some info and tips that they've learned throughout their time in plating. I'm happy to say that my first try at this wasn't a total failure!

Here are the results just after the final rinse.

Screenshot 2024-01-28 211641.png


I wanted to plate about 20 microns on the case. My thought was that it would give me a little cushion to smooth out some of the defects. Thankfully the defects were actually quite minor. There was a small section where the plating looked to have a slightly rough surface. I believe this occurred when I was adjusting the position of the case in the tank. I bumped the anode and it came into contact with the case for several seconds. Everything else turned out quite nicely, with the exception of that rough patch. About 1 minute on a soft cotton buff with some white Dialux smoothed it out beautifully.

I'm really pleased with the results.
 

thor447

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I've been tempted to give this a try for some projects. What does a plating setup cost, and what book did you use?
Grobet USA Plating Guide - No. 62.01215

I went a little overboard in my setup, with a magnetic stirrer hot plate. I also could've made my own nickel acetate, but I decided to buy pre-made solution, along with a good quality activator. The guide is handy and gives a quick reference for several types of plating. Everything is listed in volts, but in my research I found it much better to adjust plating strength in amps, that ways the flow of ions is consistent. The time and amperage needed to plate an individual part varies, along with plating temp, but there are some formulas out there that will guide you as long as you have a rough idea of the surface area being plated. I have a spreadsheet I'm using to estimate watch case surface area, and then some formulas added to calculate plating strength and time. About 10 days of research ended up being worth it in the end. Preparation of the part is key though. It takes 20x the amount of time to prep the part and get it to a level of cleanliness to ensure it passes the 'water-break' test than it does to actually plate the part.
 

Louro

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Grobet USA Plating Guide - No. 62.01215

I went a little overboard in my setup, with a magnetic stirrer hot plate. I also could've made my own nickel acetate, but I decided to buy pre-made solution, along with a good quality activator. The guide is handy and gives a quick reference for several types of plating. Everything is listed in volts, but in my research I found it much better to adjust plating strength in amps, that ways the flow of ions is consistent. The time and amperage needed to plate an individual part varies, along with plating temp, but there are some formulas out there that will guide you as long as you have a rough idea of the surface area being plated. I have a spreadsheet I'm using to estimate watch case surface area, and then some formulas added to calculate plating strength and time. About 10 days of research ended up being worth it in the end. Preparation of the part is key though. It takes 20x the amount of time to prep the part and get it to a level of cleanliness to ensure it passes the 'water-break' test than it does to actually plate the part.
I got a 57 chevy bumper that I need plating. Can you help? LOL
 

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