Been doing a lot of testing and I think I am getting close to making this work. What I have plans for is taking some of my wood work from the xcarve and doing selective electroplating or electro forming to add detail to projects. Anyone interested in the process follow this post I will add to it as I progress.
Here is a wood coaster I made some time ago it has been copper plated It is not perfect but it is a start.
test of home made conductive paint (UPDATE #1)
Debris was wiped away with a paper towel so the graphite side looks smoother. the 50/50 initial plating was very rapid compared to the graphite side witch could be part of the roughness due to a larger crystalline structure from rapid plating so I may try starting off with a lower voltage to promote slower growth in turn will create a smaller crystalline structure. the plating on the 50/50 side came out half the thickness witch I thought would be the other way around.
made a new blend 1 part copper to 4 parts graphite also thinned out the coating. So far application was much better. Also dug up a small variable transformer 1.5 to 12 volts rather have more amps but I will make due.
Ok this I am happy with. Now I shall continue on. This was a smooth plating with very little clean up
3.7 volts 340 milliamps time to plate 1 hour. The plating was thin .03mm due to short plating times but it was a very durable coating held up to sanding with 340 grit and fine steel wool. here is before and after cleanup
The bottom portion was the target to plate the top was over plate.
So I cut a 3d file and gave it a shot I did not sand coating until smooth before plating and cleaned up with green scotchbrite after plating. This was a piece of walnut.
Thats amazing, I had no idea you can electro plate wood. I’ll be watching, thanks for sharing!
Ill keep an eye out for this, that is neat.
I made my own plating solution and plating set up but here is a popular site that carries the supplies and kits. Making my own solution cost me around $25 and would allow me to make about 5 gallons witch is over kill. If you keep the solution clean by filtering a batch should last around 2 years.
My plating solution consist of distilled water sulphuric acid copper sulphate and saccharin 550 (sweet and low). The amount of acid I use is just enough to do it’s job and not eat flesh from bone more would be faster but I am going for slow and safe.
There are coatings that you can buy so non conductive items can be plated (wood) I hit up the farm store and bought graphite spray paint that I applied to the wood to give the copper something to grab on to. I have also bought a pound of graphite powder to test my own coatings $14 for both I may also buy copper powder for better results or make my own with a chemical process. a look on ebay or amazon and you will find the materials that caswell carries.
Just bought this to try to make a higher grade coating may also try blending with graphite powder to see if it helps with conductivity in the coating for a better finish.
Got my copper powder in the mail today this should work better than graphite. we shall see what happens.
doing some test samples now one graphite and one 50/50 blend graphite/copper so far the 50/50 is plating faster. also working on a simple mix to put a copper finish on projects without the acid sulfate bath if it works you will be able to put a copper finish on projects with out all the technical b.s. also at a lower cost and cleaner. If the non electroplating solution works and can be thinned to the proper consistency you could pretty much use it with the xcarve to draw traces on a circuit board. I know stuff like this exist but I want to make my own.
The one with copper powder started plating faster the both have evened out. the graphite is of a brighter color than the copper based coating so after the run is finished I will do further test for durability, adhesion, and plating thickness.
Been adding to the original post up top and will have more tomorrow. going for a project and maybe a video of the process if I like the results. oops I guess that would be today.
Thanks. I am very interested in your process/progress.
Pretty simple really. But I want to make something that almost anybody can use to get good results with out the electroplating and for that I need to make nano particle sized copper powder witch can be mixed with a medium and applied to a surface.
I think I may try a 2 coat process 1 a copper powder base coat to act as a grid to more evenly pass current over the work with a graphite top coat for a smoother finish. this would really only be needed on larger works as the resistance to current becomes greater with the graphite over distance from the point of electrical contact.
I guess now would be a good time to do some cleanup and reconfiguration before project test.
Amazing project. Thank you for sharing. Brings a whole new level of thinking to the table.
Today might bring something new to the table. I needed a finer grade of copper powder for some testing the 325 mesh was too big so if all worked when I get to the shop I might have some nano particle copper powder to play with. The chemicals to make it were pretty simple. copper sulphate put into solution and vitamin c pills put into solution will make ridiculously fine pure copper drop out of solution. I needed ascorbic acid (vitamin c) so I hit up walmart and got a bottle mixed with hot water then filtered to remove solids not perfect by any means but it appears to have worked.
If this works there would be no need for all of the plating equipment and time consuming process to plate non conductive materials.
I used to reclaim gold from electronics. I was under investigation for a meth lab lol. I think they were more surprised than I was when they showed up with a warrant.
I may not need the nano particle copper after all guess I will use in a plating coating. looks like after a little playing around the 325 mesh copper may work in a non electroplating process not as good as plating but close enough to work. Update soon if all goes well.
Ok here goes the process for non electroplating and this should work with other metal powder.
piece of metal to be used as a smoothing tool I used a spoon handle.
a coating that will stick to the project and not dry too fast but within a half hour unless you have more time. I have used polycrylic thinned with alcohol and also tried plain clear paint both have worked.
metal powder place it onto the coating let set up and dust off excess.
5 use metal smoothing tool to rub over powdered surface it will compress the powder and make it shine.
That’s all I got for now. But the smoother the coating the more uniform the outcome it’s not perfect but it’s progress.
Just a test and not the best but anyone wanting to try this for a different look and avoid the chemicals I use give this a try.