I am frustrated. Need electronic advice. Working on plating PLA with metals.

In case someone has a suggestion. I bought one of these power supplies https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07WLYSJW6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_image_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and while I was plating the anode and cathode must have touched and blew the breaker or fuse. I can’t find the right user manual to tell me what to do about it.
There is no obvious solution that I can see for resetting it.

I finally found where they hid the fuse. Ordered ten more from Amazon as it will probably happen again. It’s hard to stabilize plastic parts because they are bubbling and buoyant.
I still have no joy in finding a good conductive paint. My tiny $50 bottle is not working for me though everyone and their dogs do electro-plating and electro-forming and electro-etching for that matter. I guess I have to watch more videos. I am pleased with the cheap little rectifier I bought, I found out how to make even cheaper and easier solutions.
With ordinary household white vinegar and non-iodized salt and two electrodes of the metal you wish to make a solution to plate with you just put in a tablespoon of salt in a gallon of vinegar and hook up the electrodes and run them for a couple of hours and you will be ready to hang the work in the solution on the anode and it will plate. It cost me $2,50 and two hours of running the rectifier to make a gallon of copper sulphate plus the cost of the copper that was used up. Just for fun see how much Amazon wants for it. For laughs I will check and post it.https://www.amazon.ca/Copper-Sulfate-Solution-0-1M-500mL/dp/B07JD2C6TW/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=copper+sulphate+electro-plating+solution.&qid=1638340479&sr=8-1 It looks like I should just be making plating solution and selling it, I just saved myself a bit of money. On the internet they have so many ways to make copper sulphate but most are money wasters and the product is equal. I can keep running the solution until it is very dark and then it’s twice the price.https://www.amazon.ca/Copper-Sulfate-Solution-500mL-Collection/dp/B0784XXSQB/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=copper+sulphate+electro-plating+solution.&qid=1638340773&sr=8-5 What a business they have!

I would say from experience that the fuse and it is a .5 amp, can be found inside the box itself. It should be the old style fuse that you could find in the 50’ through 80’ cars. They were used heavily in all electronics.
I read your first post and posted from it. I then saw that you posted a second time. Glad you found the fuse. I’ve watched a lot of videos on plating and watched one where he used powder graphite and polyurethane varnish. Here is the link and I hope it helps: Copper Plate Pla - YouTube

Glad you found the fuse. The only thing I would mention regarding the power supply is that I’m used to ones that have low voltage and high amperage. The plating I was in charge of only ran on about 1.5 volts, but about 15 amps.

I can play with it. It only has two amps but I am not doing huge vats of electrolyte. As I keep making every mistake in the book it is slowly becoming one step back and two steps forward, I hardly ever turn the voltage up high unless I just want to experiment. It seems the calculation of the amperage has to do with the surface area of what you are plating and their conductivity. I can do a good copper plate in a few minutes on a quarter (Canadian) for some reason I could not get a Canadian dime to plate. A copper cloud would form around it but rub off nice and shiny clean after. They must be stainless steel. It will be interesting to see how fast pure PLA painted with graphite will plate if the connection to the copper cathode bus bar is PLA/graphite.

Thanks to Lowteck for the link. I am holding out high hopes for results from acetone and graphite in a dip. I shall certainly get some eurothane to try, I have used a lot of poly eurothane in my life. Now that I have found ways to test conductivity and have bought a new voltmeter I expect to have better results. I can only work when my brain isn’t buzzing around because of my problem. If I do things when I’m dizzy I really mess up. Maybe some of it’s old age.

I just learned from an electro-plating video that when you have a mixture of copper and conductive paint on an object that you want to plate you must start out low amperage until a patina of copper starts to form which allows you to boost the amperage.

It made me want to see what I could do if the lead and the clamp were all graphite painted PLA so only the conductivity of the graphite would matter.


I never buffed the copper so it doesn’t show how bright it could be. Just some Brasso would shine it up very nicely.

Both points you made are correct: [LIST=1]

  • the amount of amperage is indeed based on the surface area being plated. We used to put a 5/8" to 3/4" solid boarder around the circuit boards, both to give a place to clamp the boards to the plating rack, and to even out the plating field, so we didn't get over-plating on the circuits near the edge.
  • starting out with lower amperage is a good way to get better adhesion. In fact, keeping it low throughout the cycle will give the best adhesion, and solidity of the plated metal. Too much voltage or amperage will create a "burnt" look, and the plated metal will be porous and flaky. [/LIST]
  • Buffing the copper will also give you a good idea as to its thickness, hardness, porosity, and durability.

    Oh, almost forgot, the old test for plated metal is to press Scotch tape (like packing tape) firmly onto the plated metal, then hold the end of the tape at a 90 degree angle and, while holding the plated part down, literally rip the tape off the part. Then, check the object and the tape for flecks of plated metal that didn’t adhere properly.

    I blew the fuse in my my voltmeter now. That’s a sign I have to take a break and do something else. I don’t know if it is my brain damage or old age or both but I seem to get upset over things that would never have bothered me before.

    Glad to see you are making progress. I have not done any electroplating yet, just watched a lot of videos. It seems to excite me into doing so.
    I saw a gold platting kit on Amazon for just under $1600 dollars US. The chemical for the third stage is about $120 an ounce. The third stage is the actual gold plating. This kit has a power supply included.
    Here is a link to the kit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SVYN78E/?coliid=IIWT2RCKPHJZ5&colid=FNG5TCOJS8W4&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    That kit looks interesting. 1 thing to watch out for when plating gold is the substrate material. You shouldn’t plate gold onto copper. It will plate but, after a time, the copper will infiltrate the gold, making it look rusty. When plating the contacts on cirduit boards, we used to plate dull nickel on 1st, as a barrier to the copper, then plate the gold onto the nickel. Copper doesn’t infiltrate nickel.

    This kid does not plate nickel. There is a kit which cost about $300 more to prepare nickel to be gold plated. Here is the video that I watched.

    Please understand, I wasn’t saying that gold can’t be plated over other metals, just not over copper. That 2nd kit is also interesting.

    I was nosing around in Amazon and found another kit which says gold and silver plating. Did not show any chemicles in this kit but under$300. Here is location: [URL=“https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08T61NBQ7/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1p13NParams&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFGWDJOQjNXUlRHMzImZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA4MDQ5MDEzTFZGMTNKTEZRWUZTJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA5MTQ4NzAyWjFWS0RJRFYwVzlDJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfZGV0YWlsMiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=”]https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08T61NBQ7...NsaWNrPXRydWU=

    This kit really catches my fancy, maybe a Christmas present to me! Ha! Ha! or should I say Ho! Ho!

    I won’t touch gold till I’m much more well versed than I am. I wasted about $140 on fancy vinegar and hydrogen peroxide when all I needed was store vinegar and electrodes of the metals I wish to plate. My rectifier cost $50. Hardware plumber’s copper and welder’s electrodes are what some people use.
    That must be one fancy kit for that much money. I’ll have to take a look. The same thing works for all the solutions that they sell. It is far far cheaper to make them yourself.
    Everything also depends on what you will plate. I think plating plastic or other things like leaves etc, is as much an art as a science like 3d printing. Putting the two together could be a win win. We will see.

    I agree with you 100%, that is why I have not done any yet. Just reading and collecting my thoughts. Christmas with relatives to purchase gifts for comes first. Then after taxes at the first of year, I will see where I stand. I had hoped to give some chess sets and a couple of other items I had made would make a good Christmas present or two. Besides, I am waiting on you to test the waters.

    I am waiting for some acetone and then I will do some conductivity tests on all my possibilities for a conductive paint. I believe their is almost as much art as science involved because everyone has different sized containers and a different electrode setup and many variations of things to plate. sometimes involving many processes.
    For now I just want to find out what is involved when plating plastics in copper.
    I think plating more than one thing at a time and of different sizes could be a problem. They say that taking out one item to check it while plating many items can cause problems. Lots to learn.

    yes, when plating, it’s best to plate items of similar geometry together.

    Not seen anything about plating multiple articles at one time but, If acetone is not red-idly available, try fingernail polish remover, some if not all have acetone in them.

    Man, are you out of date :wink: In many jurisdictions acetone was eliminated from fingernail polish remover years ago, because kids were getting high on it and damaging their brains.