DIY zinc plating

How feasible would it be to do my own zinc plating? I'm fed up carting around 40 odd mild steel plates 1000x80x6mm and then waiting 3 days only to then have to pay £2 per length. Bob

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There's three methods:

Galvanizing (electrolytic plating) Hot plating (dipping in molten zinc) Cold plating (basically a zinc loaded paint)

The first is okay, but slow - you basically clean the plate [1], connect a DC electric supply (positive I think) to your lump of metal, then connect the other terminal to a piece of zinc. Drop in a solution of electrolyte (dunno what you'd need to use - some are dangerous or expensive, or both)

The second involves heating up a large tank of zinc to melting point, then placing your clean[1] lump of metal in until it reaches a stable temperature and the zinc sticks - kind of like tinning a soldering iron bit - probably not a good idea at home.

The third is easiest, reasonably effective, but not as durable :

£10.40 for a 400ml aerosol - supposedly does 3.2m^2, so should do about 15-18 of your bars.

The bars will still have to be clean [1], although just degreased may be ok if there is no flakey rust/paint

[1] clean as in soak in a bath of acid, then neutralise in an alkali, then rinse in clean water
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For starters, IIRC, you need an acid tank for pickling, a rinse tank, plating tank with a zinc anodes and a plating solution, (various solutions exist for this, zinc cyanide was the cheapest, not that PC I suppose in the EU, together with brighteners to make the items pretty, optional) with a variable DC power supply, a rinse tank then a pacifying tank, and then another rinse tank. The rinse tanks need a constant supply of water to prevent chemical buildup. Simple really. E & OE :-)

BTW acid pickling tanks are not the thing to have around machine shops.

It's not rocket science, but considering the cost & room requirements, wouldn't you be better off sticking to machining?


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