Copper Electroforming Base

£11.50£69.50 + VAT

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Copper Electroforming Base contains most of the components required for a fully-functional copper plating/electroforming bath.
The instructions for making the bath can be viewed by clicking the Tech Specs tab.

This copper electroforming solution, which is made from Copper Electroforming Base, works with standard copper electrodes as well as our system platinum rod electrodes. A major source of particulate contamination, which causes both dullness and roughness, is particulate contamination from using copper electrodes.
Using Rod Electrodes and anode bags eliminates the source of particulate contamination together with the requirement for regular filtration.

Please click on the Tech Specs tab for more information including using our brightener with home-made copper electroplating and electroforming solutions.

Please note: 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base makes one litre of plating solution. Please click on the ‘Product Details’ tab for instructions on how to prepare the working solution.

Available worldwide.

HS Code: 3824 99 70

Electroformed jewellery created using our copper electroforming solution. Find out more in our plating guides. To work out how much electroforming solution you will need to electroform your item please refer to the our online calculator by clicking the ‘Calculator’ tab above. To view projects on electroforming please click HERE for our electroplating guides.

Our Copper Electroforming Solution is designed to be used with our Electroforming Kit.

You can keep you Copper Electroforming Solution depositing bright shiny layers for longer by adding our Copper Brightener, our single shot brightener system. This can be found HERE in the online shop.

Our Copper Electroforming Replenisher, which can be found by clicking HERE, will also keep your electroforming bath working at its optimum level. Again, guidance on how much to use of these additives can be found in our Copper Electroforming Calculator.

When using platinum anodes, which we highly recommend when electroforming in a beaker, you can keep track of the bath life using our Copper Electroforming Solution Tracker sheet which can be downloaded by clicking Here.

 

Back to Product Description

How to make up l litre (1000ml) of copper electroforming solution from 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base.

If using Copper Anodes:

To prepare 1 litre of working solution from 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base

1. Add 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base to a 1 litre graduated beaker or measuring cylinder.

2. Make up to 1 litre with Battery Acid (25 – 35%).

3. Add to plating beaker or store in original bottle.

Notes:
Water for filling steam irons or water for topping up lead acid batteries can be used.

 

If using Platinum Electrodes/Anodes

To prepare 1 litre of working solution from 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base

1. Add 800ml of Copper Electroforming Base to a 1 litre graduated beaker or measuring cylinder.

2. Add 135 millilitre of Battery Acid (25 – 35%). See notes below.

3. Make up to 1 litre with distilled or deionised water. See notes below

4. Add to plating beaker or store in original bottle.

Notes:
Water for filling steam irons or water for topping up lead acid batteries can be used.

Copper electroforming on stone

This project shows you how to copper electroform on stone using a slice of agate as an example. This is demonstrated using our Conductive Paint, which can be used for electroforming on a wide range of non-conductive surfaces.
Our Conductive Paint can be purchased through our Special Orders shop and can only be shipped in the UK and the EU.
The benefit of using this paint is that it is a much quicker option than using our Conductive Ink (hi-grade). This is down to two main factors;
depending on the material you’re electroforming onto, the Conductive Paint can be applied without having to first spray on a key layer of lacquer. This is great if you’re intending to selectively electroplate, as you don’t have to do any tricky masking out.
The second factor that makes it a quicker option is that it becomes touch dry in 15 minutes (brush) and fully cured by 8hr at room temperature and 1 hour at 60 degrees centigrade.
This considerable advantage needs to be weighed against certain other factors. In this project we’ll be showing you how to prepare a slice of agate for electroforming. Agate is predominantly made of silica and therefore won’t be attacked by the Copper Electroforming Solution. However, if you were intending to selectively electroform a shell, you would have to cover the entire surface in lacquer before you applied the Conductive Paint. This is because shells are made of calcium carbonate and are attacked by the acid content of Copper Electroforming Solution.
Conductive paint can be painted on or sprayed while its water-based counterpart, Conductive Ink (hi-grade) should be sprayed wherever possible.

Stage 1. Surface preparation for electroforming

a) Assembling your kit

Get together everything you need for preparing the agate slice; this will include the Conductive Paint, The tubes of Conductive Epoxy and a jump ring to hang the agate piece on the chain, once it is electroformed.

At this stage you need to work out the surface area of part of the item you’re intending to electroform. The rim of this slice of agate was estimated at having a surface area of 3.5 cm squared and this was noted for later use. It will also be useful to have your Conductivity Tester to hand, to check that the Conductive Paint and the Conductive Epoxy Filler you’ll be applying is, in actual fact, conductive.

Mix the Conductive Epoxy according to the instructions on the packet.

conductive paint and epoxy filler

b) Painting on the Conductive Paint

Carefully paint on the Conductive Paint around the rim of the agate slice, using the enclosed brush. Once this is done, either leave to dry at room temperature (25 degrees centigrade) for 24 hours or dry in a fan oven at 60 degrees centigrade for an hour.

c) Using the Conductive Epoxy

To attach the jump ring to the rim of the agate slice, mix up a small amount of our Conductive Epoxy Filler and use this to stick the ring directly onto the dried Conductive Paint. The ring now performs two functions; it allows the piece of agate to be hung from its chain and it also forms the conductive connection that the agate can be held by in the electroforming solution.

 

 

Stage 2. Electroforming the agate slice

a) Working out amp settings and electroforming time

Work out the amp setting and electroforming time by entering in the surface area into our online Electroforming Calculator. Then set up your electroforming equipment following the instructions detailed in another section of this manual called ‘Copper electroforming a plastic model soldier

b) Using the Electroforming Calculator

The surface area of the rim of this slice of agate is approximately 3.5 cm squared and the required thickness of the electroforming is 100 microns. These details are entered in to our online Electroforming Calculator and this produces an amp level of 0.12 amps and a plating time of 2 hours and ten minutes.

c) Finishing

The finished piece of electroformed agate was taken out at the end of the alloted time and given a rinse. It is now possible to apply other plated layers of silver or gold, for example using either tank or brush plating or a combination of both.

Electroformed-agate-slice copy

Copper Electroforming Calculator

How to use this calculator :

1. In the first box, enter the thickness that you want your electroform to be plated to. (thousandths of a millimetre).

2. In the second box, enter the surface area of the article in square centimetres (cm2).

3. In the third box, enter the volume of solution that you are using.

4. Click the ‘Calculate’ button.

5. Read off the amp setting for your rectifier and the plating time.

7. The volume of Copper Electroforming Brightener to add.

8. The weight of Copper Electroforming Replenisher to add (Only applicable when using Platinum Rod Electrodes).

9. The bath usage. This figure is the percentage of the total bath life expectancy when
using Platinum Rod Electrodes.

If you’re using Platinum Rods for anodes, we highly recommend our Copper Electroforming Solution Tracker
which can be downloaded by clicking HERE.
This will help you keep track of the life of the bath and estimate when it’s time to renew it.

Operating Conditions and Deposit Data

Plating Factor 0.035 – 0.05A/cm2
Plating rate 1.0 micron per minute at 0.05A/cm2
Temperature 18 – 30°C (See notes)
pH (of working solution) <1.0
Agitation Low (slow spin speed on stirrer) See notes below
Brightener Single brightener. Initial concentration: 25ml/litre
Electrode (bagged) Platinum electrode (preferred) or copper electrode
Cathode efficiency Above 99% at Plating Factor = 0.035A/cm2
Hardness of deposit 160 VPN falling to 100 VPN over 5 days at room temp
Density of deposit 8.9 g/cm3
Stress Low (Tensile)
Special storage requirements None
Shelf life Up to 1 year
Health and Safety classification of Base before addition of sulphuric acid Harmful
Transport (UN number) Copper Electroforming Base is not classified as dangerous for transport.

 

Notes:

 

  • If particulate contamination enters the solution, filter using our filter kit.
    Please note that if using copper electrodes, continuous filtration will be necessary. If using
    rod electrodes, the solution should only need occasional filtration if at all.
  • Brightener additions should be made at the start of plating if possible. Additions can
    be determined using the Copper Electroforming Calculator by clicking Here
  • Higher temperatures favour less burning on exposed areas ie: sharp edges or pointed parts.
  • Solution should only be lightly agitated with the stirring rate set to minimum. Too much
    agitation will disturb any copper residues in the anode bags causing them to enter the
    solution which will produce a rough deposit.
  • After starting from a long period of inactivity, add 5ml of Copper Brightener per litre of
    electroforming solution.
  • Build up of blue crystals is usual on the electrode ring. Remove by scraping them
    back into the solution and allow to dissolve before commencing plating.
  • Please note: It is possible to use our Copper Electroforming Brightener with home-made
    sulphuric acid base copper electroforming and copper plating solutions provided
    that the solution has not had any brighteners added previously.
    For home-made solutions add 25ml of Copper Electroforming Brightener
    for every litre of home-made solution.

General guide;

Certain small items, for example Swabs, Nibs and Plating Pens can be sent by normal post within the UK

  • The courier option for UK deliveries is FedEx
  • Free UK mainland delivery available on orders over £200
  • International orders usually 3-5 working days.

For all price quotations for deliveries, please add your items to our shopping cart. You will be able to see the shipping costs by clicking on the ‘Calculate shipping’ button in the cart and before checking out.

You can access our MSDS by scanning the QR code which is on our product bottles.
Here is a video to show you how;

Fault

Possible cause

Corrective action

No plating at all.
Electricity not flowing Check that the the rectifier is switched on, that volts are showing and that the circuit is switched on (see manual).
Check all electrical contacts and clean if necessary.
Conductive layer has broken with the main jigging wire breaking the electrical circuit. Remove from the process, rinse and dry.
Repair the brocken circuit with Conductive Paint and allow to cure.
Replace in tank and start off at half the calculated amp setting for the first 5 minutes. This will allow enough copper to plate to carry the amps.
After
5 minutes, increase to the calculated amp setting.
No plating. Item looks damaged on removal from plating process
Leads connected wrongly. Check that the black connection from the rectifier is connected to the work piece and the red connection to the Beaker Ring.
Dullness of plate in the middle of articles and recesses.
Amp setting too low

 

Increase the amp setting until brightness returns.
Lack of brightener. Add 2ml of Copper Electroforming Brightener for every litre of solution and check for difference.
If no difference is observed after a third addition, do not add any more.
Temperature too high.

 

Reduce temperature to within operating range (see Tech Specs)
Low conductivity. The bath starts off at a lower conductivity. The conductivity will increase as the bath is used (using our Platinum Rod Electrodes) and brightness distribution will also increase.
The conductivity can be increased by adding sulphuric acid, but this must be done by a qualified person.
Copper content too high. Lower the copper content by allowing to plate out without making Copper Electroforming Replenisher additions.

 

Deposit dull all over.
Organic contamination Treat with Carbon Powder (see shop).
Add 10ml of Copper Electroforming Brightener for every litre of solution treated.
Run the plating bath until full brightness resumes.
Burnt deposit especially on corners and edges. Nodular in extreme cases.
Amp setting too high.

 

Decrease the amp setting.
Article too close to the anode. Move the item in the beaker or rearange the anodes.

 

Low copper content evident in clearness of solution. Add Copper Electroforming Replenisher at 40 grams for every litre.
Repeat unti original solution colour has returned.
Too little agitation. Increase agitation.

 

Temperature too low. Increase temperature. Please note that deposit will become less bright if the temperature is raised over 25 centigrade.

 

Matt deposit, rough in extreme cases.
Particulate contamination especially in small installations without continuous filtration. Filter solution into a clean beaker/container.
If using copper anodes, scrub to remove fine particulate copper and rinse anode bags thorougly.
To prevent particulate contamination from copper anodes, consider using platinised anodes with bags.
Pitting of deposit – small holes which can become larger on further plating.
Fit anode bags. If anode bags are not fitted to the Platinum Rod Electrodes, gas bubbles will escape and adhere to the surface of the work causing gas pitting.

 

Particulate matter in solution. Filter.

 

Grease or oil contamination in solution. Treat with Carbon Powder as above.

 

Un-plated area (step or skip plating).

 

Improper cleaning Check cleaning cycle especially for water breaks (see Online Manual)
Vertical tide marks especially evident on thin, flat articles.
Laminar nature of agitation especially when stirring. Consider using a stirrer with reversing action in order to make the agitation more turbulent.

 

Streaking of deposit.
Excessive brightener additions.

 

Plate out without adding brightener.
Organic contamination.

 

Treat with Carbon Powder as above.
Contaminated rises or lack of rinsing.

 

Extend rinsing cycle.
Deposit peels from basis metal.
Improper cleaning.

 

Check the cleaning cycle for the metal (see Online Manual).
Check the type of metal being plated. Consider gold flash intermediate coating especially of plating on brass, steel or stainless steel (refer to Online Manual for a list of pretreatment stages).