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Archive for the ‘Copper Plating’ Category

June 22nd, 2013

Restoration of any chrome plated car or motorcycle METAL part requires 3 main steps – Strip, polish, chrome.

Stripping can involve electric or chemical stripping, depending on the substrate material. Each layer of old plating may require a different solution to remove it. Parts that have two different metal types in the substrate – e.g. an alloy section joined to steel – can be problematic as the metal stripping process chemistry needed is different for each metal type.  The stripping process will remove the chrome, nickel and copper layers of plating as well as any rust. Any surface repairs or dent knocking are completed before polishing.

Once stripped, the part needs to be polished, to bring the surface condition up to the required depth of shine for a good plating result.  For some jobs, there will be an intermediary coating of copper plated onto the part, after which it is polished again to give greater surface depth (or to seal up a poor substrate).

The typical plating process is copper plate, then nickel plate (nickel is actually the thickest layer – it provides the strength and corrosion resistance).  The final chrome plating stage is very quick, and provides the bright and distinctive silver-blue tone we know and love, to the metal part.

For plastic chrome parts the process is a whole different ball game (give us a call if you want to know more about that)

The process is very labour intensive and there is alot of chemical science involved.  Some call it a trade, others call it a craft or even a ‘black art’.  No matter what you call this process, to us it’s simply a pleasure to give old parts new life and contribute to some really good Restoration projects!

March 4th, 2010

copper plating as undercoat pre nickel and chromeCopper plating before nickel and chrome plating

Copper Plating

  • Copper is usually used as an “undercoat” in most common plating processes (e.g. “triple chrome” is copper, nickel then chrome plated)
  • The colour of newly plated copper (salmon pink) makes it appealing as a metal colour alternative, however it tarnishes quite easily.  A coating or two of lacquer straight after plating can help preserve the colour but it’s best not to expose it to weather extremes or the lacquer will break down and cause the copper to tarnish
  • To achieve an aged bronze look, you can blacken the copper after plating then buff away the black at the high points, leaving an “antique” effect.
  • Copper plating can assist to rebuild poor or damaged surfaces by plating additional thickness onto parts.
  • There are two main varieties of copper plating – acid copper and cyanide copper. Acid copper is a safer coating for health and environment, however cyanide copper performs better in applications involving aluminium substrates. Acid copper is the most common type used for plating.  When plating aluminium alloys, some prefer to nickel plate straight onto the surface to avoid the use of cyanide copper, and this is possible, however this can sometimes be difficult to control and achieve good quality results.
Copper plating blackened then polished to achieve antique effectCopper plating blackened then polished to achieve antique effect known as “Florentine Bronze”

Copyright © 2009, ACLASS Metal Finishers Pty Ltd. 6 Waddikee Rd, Lonsdale, South Australia, 5160. Telephone (+ 61 8 8384 4331) Email: acmf@aclassmetal.com.au
Specializing in Copper Nickel & Chrome Plating, Gold Plating, Silver Plating, Tin Plating, Electroless Nickel, Plating on Plastic (ABS) and Metal Polishing