Techniques

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Electroplating techniques

We update this section to become a valuable online learning resource for all aspects of learning electroplating.

Introduction

When it comes to good electroplating, preparation is the key. Any electroplated surface takes on the appearance of the underlying substrate, therefore if the surface to be plated is scratched or damaged, then the final plated surface willshow these flas and imperfections.A well prepared and well polished surface is vital for first class plating.

If an item has been supplied for plating is already in polished condition, no polishing will be required. Likewise, If an item is already of the desired finish (as may be the case in restoration or re-plating tasks where a chrome plated item is supplied and the existing chrome plate is in good condition, no polishing will be required.

Further reading

  • Hand Polishing
  • Machine Buffing
  • Plating

Hand polishing

If you do not have access to a buffing machine, or if you would simply prefer to use a manual technique, hand polishing can be very effective.

The main types of polishes recommended are

  • brass polish
  • silver polish
  • compound polish

Each polish has it's own advantages and best applications and each can be very useful. As your experience grows you may find your own preferred polishes from the many brands available, and if you find a good polish, we would love to hear from you >

The following list should only serve as a guide:

Brass polish
Best used for pre-plate polishing or polishing back copper plate during renovation work.

Silver polish
Primarily used for polishing silver to final lustre and additionally to impart anti-tarnishing properties to the plated surface. Do not use silver polish for pre-plate polishing as the anti-tarnish layer it leaves can hinder the plating process.

Compound polish
Perfect for hand polishing hard metals prior to plating

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Finishing polish
First class after plating polish for setting finish and protecting surface

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Machine Buffing

A surface can be prepared for plating by polishing on a buffing machine. Buffing machines consist of a polishing mop attached to an electric motor via a shaft on which is a tapered spindle. The main types of mops used are sisal mops, stitched mops and loose-leaf mops.

  • Sisal mops: Used for deeply scored and scratched articles. Care should be taken not to distort the shape of the article.
  • Stitched mops: Used after abrasive mopping for articles in a medium scratched condition and for first stage polishing of hard metals e.g., stainless steel. The operator can apply large pressures to get the maximum cutting speed. Again, care should be taken not to distort the shape of the work.
  • Loose-leaf mops: Used for the final polishing stage. In many cases, where there are only minor scratches on the article, this polishing stage is the only one necessary.

Polishing Waxes

Polishing waxes are supplied in bars and are applied to different mops; each wax contains different abrasive size particles. There are many different types of polishing waxes available and the choice can seem daunting for the beginner.

As a rule of thumb, waxes can be matched to mops using the list below:

  • Course wax for use on a sisal mop.
  • Medium wax for use on a stitched mop.
  • Fine wax for use on a loose-leaf mop.

Important Note! Never not cross-contaminate mops. By this we mean that for the final polishing stage on a loose leaf mop, never apply a medium wax as this will render the mop useless for final polishing.

Cleaning after polishing

Once an item has been buffed or polished, it must be washed and in a clean state before it is electroplated. This means that all residual dirt, especially oils and water insoluble dirt, such as polishing waxes left over from the buffing stage, have to be removed before plating is attempted. The best way to remove these is to use a specialist surface conditioner, available on our online shop >

Health and Safety.

A great degree of care must be taken when using a buffer wheel. If work catches on the wheel it can snatch causing injuries to the operator's hands. Machine operators should take all measures necessary to prevent clothing, hair or jewellery getting tangled up in the machine. When using a buffing wheel, operators should wear protective clothing: gloves, face shield and a dust mask.

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Plating

Details to follow

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