Selective electroplating to produce text and markings?

Hi folks,
Does anyone know if it's possible to use an electroplating process together with some kind of mask to produce text and markings on a sheet of metal? Like etching a circuit board, but in reverse?
I'm thinking of data plates and clock dials, that kind of thing. Perhaps zinc or tin on copper. Anyone tried it?
I couldn't find any web pages about this, but it seems like it ought to be possible. It would be interesting to know if it works and what the contrast and durability are like.
Best wishes,
Chris
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On Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:07:30 -0800 (PST)

You might find these podcasts of general interest:
http://wttpodcast.libsyn.com/
Concerning your question, especially this one, towards the end:
http://wttpodcast.libsyn.com/welding-tips-and-tricks-podcast-episode-76-with-walter-surface-technologies
They claim you can mark metal using a template with their Surfox equipment/process. I'm not sure how much info is on their website for this but it was discussed some in the podcast...
http://www.surfox.com/us/
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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On Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:07:30 -0800 (PST), Christopher Tidy

There are brush-type plating kits like the ones from Caswell:
http://www.caswellplating.com/#
...and the metal that's supposedly easy to plate (aside from copper, which is easiest) is nickel.
There also are many homebrew plating setups that are easy to find with a Google search for "home metal plating." They can be really cheap to put together from common materials. Caswell used to be cheap but they seem to have moved up-market. <sigh>
There must be an easy way to mask it. An old recipe for masking in electrochemical etching and machining is some kind of asphalt material, but lacquer is also used.
Good luck!
--
Ed Huntress

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On Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:07:30 -0800 (PST), Christopher Tidy

You might look into vacuum deposition. I don't know how thick it can be deposited, but if it's for visual purposes only, it probably doesn't have to be thick. I have no idea what kind of tech it takes to do this, but it came to mind reading your post. This may be something you could have done cheaply rather than buying the tech.
The concept fascinated me the first time I saw a brightly chromed =plastic= knob eons ago.
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stand tall and you'll be shot at.
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On 14/02/18 14:07, Christopher Tidy wrote:

I don't any reason why it wouldn't work. If i was going to do it I would do it just like I do PCBs. You can buy spray photoresist from the likes or RS, Maplin and others. I've used it in the past for etching letters out of copper foil which were later encased in glass. Then chose your electroplate or electroless process and give it a go.
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On Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:07:30 -0800 (PST), Christopher Tidy

I just remembered something that you may find useful. I've used Chartpak dry-transfer letters in an inverse way to make a spray-paint mask. Rub them down tightly enough to be sure the edges have a good grip, spray your paint (lacquer or whatever you use for masking), and then lift the letters up carefully with a razor blade. Then you can plate where the letters used to be. As I recall, they don't leave residue, but you may need to clean with a solvent -- one that won't attack your masking paint.
I used it to make a science-fair poster years ago, when the only computer printers we had were dot-matrix. It worked great. The letters are available in some nice fonts, but you'd probably have to order those online.
--
Ed Huntress



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"Pattern Plating" or "Panel Plating":
http://pcbfab.com/etching-outer-layer
The seemingly redundant step of plating extra copper over the copper foil also plates the walls of the drilled holes while they are all still electrically connected.
Gold can be plated on the copper for edge connector fingers and microwave circuits subject to skin effect. The process leaves a matte finish, IIRC because brighteners would degrade the electrical properties.
The circuit board manufacturers have standard procedures that minimize cost and more expensive options for higher performance. Talk to them. -jsw
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On 14/02/18 14:07, Christopher Tidy wrote:

Chris,
Did you actually search for selective electroplating, I just did and found quite a bit mentioned and example of it used for both repair work and decorative work.
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On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 9:07:35 AM UTC-5, Christopher Tidy wrote:

The easiest would be to buy a resist pen. And there are some sites on the internet about copper plating using vinegar. This would end up with most of the item plated with copper.
Dan
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On Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:07:30 -0800 (PST), Christopher Tidy

Yeah, you can mask off the areas with lacquer and if the parts are steel or cast iron they can be easily plated with electroless nickel. It adheres well, wears well, and looks great. I've done it with solutions from Caswell. Eric
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Thanks for all the useful tips and links. It looks like it's a realistic th ing to do. I wanted to electroplate text and markings for two purposes: to make clock dials and machine data plates. Anyone know if the contrast and d urability are sufficient for this? Or maybe acid etching is more durable?
David: I did search for "selective electroplating", but didn't find anythin g much of use. The sites I found were talking about electroplating using a brush. Do you have a link to a good site you found?
Best wishes,
Chris
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2018 06:07:50 -0800 (PST), Christopher Tidy

Electroless nickel is durable enough. For clock faces what does it matter? They will be protected by glass. You can put EN on copper alloys too, it just takes a tiny bit more work. Why not just visit the Caswell website and get your answers there? Eric
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On 15/02/18 14:07, Christopher Tidy wrote:

Chris,
I didn't spend much time looking but saw the brush plating stuff but also in google images quite a few decorative selective plating examples.
Regarding machine data plates there is a product that allows you to produce IIRC a black on aluminium plate like a PCB process and a company I used to work for used it for machine data plates. I think it may have been a Mega product like http://www.megauk.com/metal_etching_kit.php but IIRC it didn't etch the metal but came pre coated with a black coat that you exposed like a PCB and developed and processed to reveal the underlying aluminium where required.
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Contast is apt to be better with plating, unless the etch is quite deep, since the plating needn't be the same color as the base metal.
Durability is apt to be better with etching, since base metal must be removed to obscure it. A protected clock face seems a good candidate for plating, data plates are likely better etched especially if tampering (as for serial numbers) might be a concern. In that case at least there's a sign something's been altered.
hth,
bob prohaska
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