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Electroforming - Magical Metal Creations! What Is Electroforming All About? Copper Electroforming or as my grandkids call it "Copperizing", is a method of covering non-metallic objects with layers of copper. I have done this to a tree leaf, a pine cone, a baseball, many seashells, glass of many shapes and semi-precious stones like amethyst.
I have sold enough of my electroformed items online to pay for my initial investment and now making profit! Com Everyone has heard of Bronzed baby shoes.
In reality, these are really coated with copper using the electroforming process and equipment described here. Other metals like nickel, brass, silver and gold can be electroformed in the same way using different solutions and metals.
But, the process is basically the same. In this case we will need very low voltage and very low current. So, for this process we will likely want to purchase a unit that uses household power AC Alternating Current and converts it to DC in a controllable way.
Electrolyte - This is a liquid that will conduct electricity. In the case of electroforming this is distilled water, a small amount of sulfuric acid Battery Acid and some copper sulfate crystals Swimming pool water treatment chemical. I will give you the recipe later. Anode - This is the metal object which will be sacrificed, dissolved into the electrolyte and then "formed" or deposited onto our non-metallic object. The positive side of our DC power supply is connected to the Anode.
In electroforming, this can be a sheet of copper you purchase for that purpose, recycled copper pipe or any other copper item. Cathode - This is the non-metallic item we are going to electroform. The metal dissolved off the anode is deposited onto the cathode basically one atom at a time.
The negative side of our DC power supply is connected to the cathode. Electrolyte Tank - This is typically a plastic rectangular container but can be round and made of metal that is acid proof and non-conductive such as porcelain pot.
You can use plastic buckets as well. Sizing and shape are somewhat determined by the items you want to copperize. Electro-Conductive Paint - In order to get the copper, or whatever metal you are working with to deposit where you want it you have to create a temporary surface that will conduct electricity.
There are several specialized paints on the web that will do this. Tinning solution is needed for the Caswell paint and recommended for the Metalform L paint. They seem pretty pricey but a little goes a long ways.
While this can be done with a car battery and some other bits and pieces I recommend purchasing a proper household current power supply. By the time you add up the cost of the bits and pieces you will nearly at the price of a proper unit. When I started, I found on ebay a Tekpower Sometimes called Masteck volt, amp power supply. These units come in all sizes and the one I purchased is actually oversized for my needs but is controllable to very low settings.
I have electroformed a dozen items or so at the same time and the voltage was always less than 1 and the amperage less than 3. So I recommend a power supply with volts and amps. Current should be controlled at less than 0.
Electroforming current flow is much lower than electroplating. Electric Wire and Alligator Clips: For 10 amp power supply or less, use 18 gauge wire. Depending on how far you locate your power supply from the electrolyte tank you will need more or less wire. Also, to make life easier I use alligator clips to make all my electrical connections. Buy red clips and red wire for the positive Anode side and black clips and black wire for the negative Cathode side of your system.
Again, choose the size to match the items you intend to electroform. Sulfuric Acid: This is the most dangerous component involved in electroforming. But with some care can be handled safely. Always wear rubber gloves, a plastic apron and eye protection. A face shield is best, but at a minimum use goggles to protect your eyes. You are going to dilute the acid so there is one important rule.
Always pour acid into water. If you do it the other way it will splash and spit acid droplets at you and everything around you. It can even make acidic steam. Remember, acid gets poured into water, not the other way around. I also buy this off of ebay. It is sold as a chemical for making biodiesel. This will make about 6 gallons of electrolyte which is a lot. I will give you the recipe a bit later.
If washed off in 15 seconds or so it will not harm you. If you wait longer you can be burned by it. So wear the safety equipment, do your acid mixing in a sink with water on or available. I make it sound worse than it is, but I just want you to be careful. Also, make sure you store any unused acid in a safe place, away from the kids.
Copper Sulfate Crystals: Another item found on ebay. This is enough make about 2. In each shipment there will be a material safety data sheet MSDS with important safety information. Please read and follow the safety information.
Copper Anode Material: There are a number of ways to go here. You can purchase new copper sheet material from StormCopper. You can also use most any kind of scrap copper material. I like to use recycled copper just to help the environment. I will show you how to make a copper anode using even the smallest pieces of scrap copper. Since I do copper metal crafting I have lots of it around. If you can find a roofing contractor in your area, they may have scraps they will sell you. Copper Conductive Paint: In order to get the electroforming process started, you have to create an electrical path on the surface of the object.
This is where your creative side goes to work. You paint only where you want the copper to deposit. Intricate surface paint designs will quickly be immortalized in copper. Remember, all the paint must connect to the electrical source. I purchase the copper conductive paint from Caswell Plating. It seems pricey, but it really does go a long way. Please note that the Caswell product requires a dip in tinning solution after the paint dries whereas the Metalform L does not. The disadvantage of the Metalform L paint is that you need a workspace with good ventilation as it has a strong paint smell.
Put the cap on the jug and give it a good shake. You will want to use a funnel for both the crystals and the acid. Put the cap back on and give it a good shake. Then refill the jug to full with the distilled water you saved. You will notice that the contents of the jug warmed up a bit when you added the acid. This is caused by the water mixing with the acid and is nothing to worry about. Note: Use a plastic jug with a screw on cap instead of the snap on type.
The blue solution pretty but is very hard to clean up. Air Agitation: A more uniform metal surface will result during electroforming from stirring the electrolyte bath gently. I have found the best way to do this is with the smallest, cheapest aquarium air pump you can find. You will need a small amount of flexible air tubing and one length of the rigid air tubing. One of the things I learned was the air agitation causes little splatters of electrolyte solution when the air bubbles break the surface.
This causes blue crystals to grow on everything that get splattered. To help control this I made up some PVC contraptions to contain the splash.
Please see the photos. Turning on the Power: You can simply hook up the wires to your anode or cathode or set up bus bars like I show in the pictures. These are easily made using quarter inch copper tubing which can be hammered flat or left round. Since some of the objects you may electroform will want to float, it helps to have flat surface to clamp them against.
Set up your plastic tank and fill to the level that will easily cover the largest of your target items. Then position your copper anodes along both sides of the tank. Connect all of the wires as shown in the diagram.
ELECTROPLATING AND ELECTROFORMING A GUIDE FOR THE CRAFTSMAN PDF
Electroforming - Magical Metal Creations! What Is Electroforming All About? Copper Electroforming or as my grandkids call it "Copperizing", is a method of covering non-metallic objects with layers of copper. I have done this to a tree leaf, a pine cone, a baseball, many seashells, glass of many shapes and semi-precious stones like amethyst. I have sold enough of my electroformed items online to pay for my initial investment and now making profit!
Free Electroforming Jewelry Tutorial: How to Electroform Jewelry Like a Pro
January 27, Have you wanted to explore the electrifying possibilities of electroforming jewelry to create metal jewelry elements out of natural objects or keepsakes? Electroforming—aka electroplating—lets you take organic objects and coat them with a layer of real metal allowing you to use complex, natural shapes in your metal jewelry without difficult fabrication. Anything you can find in nature can be incorporated in your pieces: from delicate seed pods to acorns to sea shells. By using some of the techniques for jewelry electroplating, you can also integrate findings, like jump rings, right into your electroformed jewelry to create custom, ready-to-use elements.
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Engineering or mechanical properties Background The cathode would be the piece to be plated and the anode would be either a sacrificial anode or an inert anode, normally either platinum or carbon graphite form. Sometimes plating occurs on racks or barrels for efficiency when plating many products. Please refer to electrolysis for more information. The process is undergone using silver as the anode, and a screw as the cathode. The electrons are transferred from the anode to the cathode and is underwent in a solution containing silver.
So in the end, the ultimate success of this modern technological triumph will come down to old-fashioned marketing. Forming a Niche Equipments and Chemicals The yield of the electroforming can be changed according to the following explained equipments and chemicals. Newman and Lee NewmanHardcover. Also electroforming technique can be applied either for conductive materials or te metalized substrates by many of the glass artists to create unique layers on the glass. Ethnicity, Race, and Health in Multicultural Societies: The coated mandrill is now heated to a temperature high enough to melt the white metal core without affecting the copper and gold plates. Despite 1 hours, I had only a small coverage. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics: Then could be polished or electrofomring chemicals to make a brighter surface.