Aluminum Plating

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Updated May 7, 2009


One of the major problems in plating aluminum is that the surface corrodes instantly making it difficult to get a good bond with the metal that you are applying. When plating on aluminum remember that this is a wet process, move quickly but carefully between steps. Do not allow the surface to dry between steps. It is easier to tank plate over aluminum but both methods will work.

Tank Plating On Aluminum

1.       Remove any oxide, scale, corrosion or organic coatings by sanding with silicon carbide paper, bead blasting or white Scotch bright. If the piece is in ruff or in bad shape it should be polished at this time.  Once you remove the oxidation from the surface, avoid touching the work piece with your hands, the use of rubber gloves will help you to prevent that.

2.      Degrease the part with Degreaser # D-1 by either brushing  or spraying degreaser on the piece. Let it stand for 15 seconds then rinse the piece off. Make sure that there are no water breaks when you rinse the piece. Most problems with plating on aluminum can be traced to a dirty surface on the work piece or the failure to remove all of the surface corrosion. Water rinse thoroughly in clean tap water.

3.   Etch the work piece in a tank of electro-cleaner #  C-5 with the leads reversed. This will ensure that the corrosion is gone from the surface. Rinse the piece in clean tap water.

4.   Submerge the piece in Zincate # C-12T for 15 seconds to 2 minutes. A uniform gray appearance is a indication of a properly Zincated piece. If the piece reacts violently in the solution, then shorten the amount of time that you submerge it. Water rinse in clean tap water.

5.    Plate the work piece with # C-2 Nickel solution with a nickel anode until a good covering is noticed. Water rinse with clean water.

6.    Plate the work piece with # C-1 Copper solution with a copper anode. You can build-up a good layer of copper that will aid in filling in flaws etc by the length of time that you plate the piece. Water rinse with distilled water.  If your rectifier is set at the proper setting your piece should come out of the tank with a good shine to it. If the piece is not shiny enough, you can polish it at this time.

7.     Plate the work piece with Nickel # C-2 just long enough to have a full covering. Rinse in distilled water. You can now plate the piece with any finish coat that you desire such as chrome or gold.

Brush Plating Aluminum With The Dalmar System

Warning: To electroplate on aluminum you must follow the instructions carefully. Any changes, elimination of steps or use of other chemicals will prevent this system from working properly. 

1. Remove any scratches, oxide, scale, corrosion or organic coatings by abraiding with silicon carbide paper, bead blasting or white scotch brite can be used also. Once you remove the oxidation from the surface, avoid touching the work piece with your fingers, the use of rubber gloves will help you prevent that.

2.   Degrease the part making sure that there are no water breaks when you rinse the piece. Most of the problems with plating on aluminum can be traced to a dirty surface on the work piece or the failure to remove all of the surface corrosion. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

3.Electroclean with Dalmar Electro-cleaner at 10 to 12 volts. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

4. Reverse the leads on the machine or use the reverse switch if you have one. Etch with Dalmar Aluminum Activator at 9 to 12 volts until a uniform dark surface is obtained. Remember metal is being removed. Continue to etch until entire surface is uniform in color. (Important). Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

5. Set the leads in the normal order. Desmut with Dalmar Desmut # PS-06 at 12 volts until uniform light colored surface is obtained. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

6. Immediately prewet the surface with PS-2801 Dalmar Nickel solution, NO CURRENT. (Prewet means to apply the solution without turning on the machine). Then turn on your rectifier for the next step.

7. Preplate with Dalmar Nickel #PS-2801 at 9 to 12 volts until uniform nickel color is obtained. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

8. Plate with Dalmar Copper #PS-2903 at 6 to 9 volts until the desired build-up is achieved. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water. Rub piece with white Scotch brite mesh to to clean up the copper color.

9.  Electro-clean with Dalmar Electro-cleaner at 9 to 12 volts. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water. Check to make sure that there are no water breaks.

10. Nickel plate with Dalmar PS-2802 at 8 to 12 volts. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

11. Polish nickel to high luster. The amount of shine achieved on the nickel will determine the amount of shine on the chrome or whatever finish you plate next.

12. Degrease the part after polishing to make sure that there are no water breaks.

13. Electroclean with Dalmar Electro-cleaner at 10 to 12 volts. Water rinse thoroughly with clean tap water.

14. Chrome plate with either Dalmar Decorative Chrome # PS-2404 or Dalmar Hard Chrome # PS-2403.

"Believe"

 

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