Copper Electroforming Solution (UK and EU only)

£9.98£55.50 + VAT

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Spa Plating’s copper electroforming solution has been developed to work not only with standard copper electrodes but also with our system using rod electrodes in place of copper 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.

Orders outside UK and EU

This plating solution cannot be purchased and shipped outside the UK and the EU because it’s part of our range of plating solutions that are regulated for transport.

You could substitute this product with our Copper Electroforming Solution (export outside UK and EU only) a link to which can be found in the ‘Related Products’ section below. This is a similar product and is exclusively for countries outside the EU and the UK. Please click HERE to see the product page and find out if this is the best choice for you.

 

HS Code: 3824 99 70

Electroformed jewellery created using our Copper Electroforming Solution. Find out more in our Plating Manual. To work out how much electroforming solution you will need to electroform your item and how much it will cost please click HERE and to see a projects on electroforming please click HERE for our Electroplating Manual. Click HERE for our Copper Electroforming Calculator to help you work out how long to leave your item in the Copper Electroforming Solution to achieve your desired thickness of copper.

Our Copper Electroforming Solution is designed to be used with our Electroforming Kit. Please click HERE in our shopping category ‘Plating Kits’ to find out more.

You can keep you Copper Electroforming Solution depositing bright shiny layers for longer by adding a few drops of our Copper Brightener, our single shot brightener system. This can be found HERE in our shop under Plating Solutions: Base Metals. 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.

Our Copper Electroforming Solution quickly deposits a smooth shiny layer of copper on conductive and non-conductive materials and is designed to work in tandem with our Electroforming Kit.

Single-shot additive system.
Filtration not required when used with Spa Plating’s equipment.
Total process control using our online calculator.
Come premixed and ready-to-use.
Makes for the ideal bench-top electroforming system.
We strongly advise against the use of air agitation with all electroforming
solutions due to health and safety issues associated with airborne copper mists.

Copper electroforming on plastic

Copper electroforming on plastic is now straightforward with our Electroforming Kit. When used with our on-line Electroforming Calculator, you can now electroform on to most non-conductive and metal surfaces to substantial and measurable thicknesses.
Unlike many other systems, you won’t need to do lots of post electroforming buffing and polishing, as our Copper Electroforming Solution plates consistently bright and smooth.
If the electroforming bath is likely to remain unused for long periods of time, the copper electrodes and Electrode Ring should be removed from the copper electrode bath and stored separately.

This project has four main stages;

1. Preparing the surface of the plastic model soldier to make it conductive with our Conductive Ink (hi-grade).
2. Preparing your electroforming equipment.
3. Electroforming in the Copper Electroforming Solution.
4. Post electroforming plating of silver and gold.

Stage 1. Preparing the surface for electroforming

a) Mounting the model soldier

It’s important to mount you work well before starting as this will make surface preparation and electroforming much easier. Drill a small guide hole in an area where it can’t be seen. At this point it’s a good idea to calculate the surface area of your item, in preparation for entering the correct settings into the Tank Plating Rectifier later on. We estimated that this model has a surface area of approximately 20 squared centimetres.

Screw in a brass screw and then attach a small length of our Gold Plated Jigging wire to the other end. This will have two functions; it will form a conductive link between the object and the Copper Electroforming Solution and equipment, ensuring a good electrical circuit. It will also be able to be gripped securely in the crocodile clamp, making sure there’s no danger of your piece falling in to the electroforming solution.

We’ll be spraying on our Conductive Ink (hi-grade) to make the surface conductive and prepare it for electrofoming. This could also be painted on.

We could also use our Conductive Paint, guidance on the use of which comes in a following project ‘Selectively Electroforming using our Conductive Paint’. However, the conductive paint is best used on a less smooth surface, such as a shell or a leaf. With a smooth plastic surface spraying on the Conductive Ink (hi-grade) will give a better result.

b) Spraying on the lacquer

Spray the surface with a fine layer of clear lacquer that can be easily bought from any hardware or car accessory shop. We recommend using a solvent based clear lacquer spray.

The lacquer is an essential step as this forms a key layer for the next layer of conductive ink and in the case of porous materials such as wood, seals the surface. Wait for 10-15 minutes and once the lacquer is almost dry but retains a little stickiness, either spray or paint on our Conductive Ink (hi-grade).

c) Using an airbrush to spray on our Conductive Ink (hi-grade)

Charge your airbrush with our Conductive Ink (hi-grade).

Spray on a fine layer of our Conductive Ink (hi-grade). You only need a few drops of ink – just enough to cover the bottom of the airbrush well. Spray at a distance of 5-6 cm and apply only enough to block out the underlying surface of the object. One layer of ink is is usually enough.

If air drying

Leave at room temperature for 24hrs

If oven drying

Leave in a fan oven at a temperature of 45-50 degrees centigrade for three hours.

Stage 2. Preparing your electroforming equipment

a) Working out the amps for the MF Rectifier and electroforming times

First, work out the surface area of your work in centimetres.

You can then either enter this into the Electroforming Calculator, which you will find on our website and all the calculations will be done for you,

or you can do it manually. If you choose to do the latter, multiply the surface area of your work by the solution factor for the Copper Electroforming Solution, which is 0.05 For our plastic model soldier the calculation works out as 20 x 0.05 = 1.0, so the plating amps will need to be set to 1.0

Then you need to decide how thick you require your electroformed layer to be and therefore how long it should be electroformed. If you are electroforming an item that is quite fragile, you will probably need to build a fairly thick layer of copper. If this is the case, you should be aiming to leave it in the solution for about 2 hours minimum. Our Copper Electroforming Solution deposits copper at a rate of approximately 1 micron a minute, so after 2 hours you should have a layer of about 120 microns. This plastic soldier is quite rigid, so it will be electroformed for about an hour.

Here is a screen shot of our Copper Electroforming Calculator

b) Setting up your electroforming kit

Fill the rinse beakers with tap water and turn the Hot Plate Stirrer on to its lowest setting so that the copper solution is being agitated. Make sure the temperature of the solution is in the range of 22-28 degrees centigrade. Plug one end of the black lead as shown into the front of the Tank Plating Rectifier and the other end into the base of the Plating Arm.

c) Setting the volts

Make sure the Output switch is open on your Tank Plating Rectifier and adjust the volts to 3 – 3.5

d) Attaching the red lead

Attach the red lead to the Plating Arm.

e) Closing the Output switch

Close the Output switch and adjust the amps to 0.5 to start with and then, once you’ve started electroforming, after about 15 minutes, you can increase it to the full 1.00 amps.

f) Open the Output switch

g) Attaching the red lead to the Electrode Ring

Attach the red lead to the Electrode Ring

Stage 3. Electroforming in the Copper Electroforming Solution

a) Placing your work into the solution

Lower your work into the solution and start the timer. Turn on Output and check that the amp level is correct; in this case with the plastic soldier it should be reading 0.5 to be increased after after 5 minutes minutes to 1.00

You should quickly see a layer of copper building on your item.

b) Finished electroformed soldier

When the time is up, remove your work from the electroforming solution and pass it through the two rinse beakers. As can be seen in the photograph, your work will be covered in a bright, shiny and substantial layer of copper that will require very little if any, polishing or buffing.

b) Electroforming on other non-conductive surfaces

The same sequence of applying lacquer, conductive ink and then electroforming can be used on natural materials such as shell, wood, stone and leaves.

If you intend to electroform on semi-absorbent surfaces such as wood you will need to apply at least 2-3 layers of lacquer to completely seal the surface.

 

For electroforming on shell, the surface of the shell must not come into direct contact with the electroforming solution as the solution will etch the shell, so every part of the shell must be covered in layers of lacquer.

If you want to electroform on glass, you’ll need to use our Glass Primer, rather than the spray on lacquer and then follow the same stages with the Conductive Ink. Please see our video on plating a glass plaque which can be found on the Glass Primer page on our shop and see the instructions for use on our online shop.

Stage 4. Brush or tank plating subsequent layers

a) Preparing the copper electroformed surface

Once you have a substantial layer of electroformed copper on your piece and you have passed it through the rinse stages, you can now go ahead and plate other layers such as silver or gold. If you wish to gold plate, you’ll need to plate a barrier layer of white bronze or silver beforehand.

To prepare the copper electroformed surface for further plating, you can simply dip it into some Acticlean to restore it to that freshly copper plated look; you don’t need to use power via the rectifier.

b) Brush plating a silver barrier layer

The beauty of Spa Plating’s system is its flexibility. You can move seamlessly between tank, brush and pen plating once you have our Tank Plating Rectifier.

To brush plate a barrier layer of silver, set up your brush plating equipment as normal by attaching an electrode handle fitted with a platinum electrode to the red lead and grip a Conductor Strip into the crocodile clip on the black lead. Estimate how much Silver Brush Plating Solution you’ll need with the online Plating Calculator, then follow the instructions for brush plating silver that you’ll find in previous projects in this manual.

c) Gold brush plating

To gold brush plate the item, calculate how much gold solution you’ll need with our Plating Calculator and then refer to the previous projects that include gold brush plating for guidance.

Copper Electroforming Calculator

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 <1.0
Agitation Low (slow spin speed on stirrer) See notes below
Brightener Single brightener. Initial concentration: 25ml/litre
Electrode (bagged) Copper Electrode for Tank Plating recommended
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 1 – 2 years
Health and Safety classification Corrosive
Transport (UN number) 2796

 

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.

 

Some items are regulated for transport and can only be delivered to destinations in the UK and countries within the EU. Alternative or substitute products are detailed in the ‘Description’ tab of this tabbed panel or under Related Items below this tabbed panel.
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.

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 brighteness 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.
Grease or oil 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.

 

Unplated area (step or skip plating).

 

Improper cleaning Check cleaning cycle especially for water breaks (see Online Manual)
Vertical tide marks especially evdident 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).