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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:45 am
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So I'm looking for proving or disproving of a theory regarding copper plating a steel wire.

There are methods on youtube etc, involving different chemicals, acids, etc and batteries. I want to know about the simple at home method using household items.

Here is what I did.

I made a steel spring using 20ga stainless steel wire.
I made a copper spring using copper wire from the inside of a co-axial cable wire (stripped away the insulation of course). The copper spring was only to increase the amount of copper submerged in a small space. (a plastic pill bottle)

I added about 1 ounce of regular white vinegar. Placed the steel spring in one side, and hung the copper coil from the other side by a string.

The theory is that copper should migrate away from the copper and adhere to the steel. I do not need a thick plating, just a layer of copper for conductivity.

Technically.... this set up is making it's own electric current. just like making a battery using a penny, nickle, coffee filter and vinegar.

Will this actually work to apply the desired copper plating?


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 9:37 am
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funny enough, I did something similar with zinc on steel for my thesis yonks ago, but in order to speed up the process I used a low concentration chloride solution and an electrolytic cell (and obviously some electricity)

whilst in theory copper on a steel wire should work, it might be rather slow and the deposition might be rather uneven unless you give it some assistance

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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:04 pm
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marnixR wrote:
funny enough, I did something similar with zinc on steel for my thesis yonks ago, but in order to speed up the process I used a low concentration chloride solution and an electrolytic cell (and obviously some electricity)

whilst in theory copper on a steel wire should work, it might be rather slow and the deposition might be rather uneven unless you give it some assistance


slow is fine, and it doesnt need to be perfectly even, just conductive.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:14 pm
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the only way you will find if it works and gives you a workable product is by trying to do it
if it does, fine, if not, then you'll have to adjust your conditions

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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:07 pm
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marnixR wrote:
the only way you will find if it works and gives you a workable product is by trying to do it
if it does, fine, if not, then you'll have to adjust your conditions


Actually, after trying a couple springs, and reading some posts, I decided to go with a 20ga or 16ga maybe, bronze rod. I'll have to do a bit of balancing.. thicker would be more conductive, but thinner is easier to bend to shape.
Thanks for the suggestions guys. Much appreciated.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:56 am
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also be aware that if the current is sufficiently high and the diameter rather small, your wire could get rather hot, not enough to melt the wire maybe, but I had the insulating plastic melt when I used very high currents

also, if high temperatures occurred the mechanical properties of your spring could be weakened

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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:18 am
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marnixR wrote:
also be aware that if the current is sufficiently high and the diameter rather small, your wire could get rather hot, not enough to melt the wire maybe, but I had the insulating plastic melt when I used very high currents

also, if high temperatures occurred the mechanical properties of your spring could be weakened


I went with a 20ga 0.81mm brass rod coiled around a 3.5mm core 10 wraps (per inch aprox) the resistance is sufficiently low to allow current to pass easily across the higher resistance of the heating coil.

Ohms per foot... 20ga
copper...................................... 0.01
Yellow Brass............................ 0.0375
Stainless Steel (302, 304) ...... 0.42

As seen here... copper is only 4x as conductive as brass, but brass is 14 times more conductive than stainless steel. In this instance, it would take 14 times the amount of current to heat SS than it does do heat the brass.

I don't have an example for brass, but using copper (which is pretty close... )

20ga copper wire.. wrapped on a 35mm core *inner diameter*.... Number of wraps 1911.33 = 1ohm. (3 mW/mm² at 200w)
20ga stainless steel (302 or 304) on a 35mm core *inner diameter*.....Number of wraps 44.73 = 1 ohm. (108 mW/mm² at 200w.)

and the heating coils are made from things like NiChrome or Kanthal.
Kanthal 220 mW/mm² at 200w.

* all values are based on 1 ohm of resistance*

So the lower the resistance of your wire, the more current you need to apply to heat it. This is why having the spring made from a low resistance material is so important.. After all, you won't get your heating coil to do it's job, if the current is being used up before it gets to the heating coil. lol


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:44 am
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I suppose that in the case I was talking about I DID push the boundaries somewhat :roll:

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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:16 am
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marnixR wrote:
I suppose that in the case I was talking about I DID push the boundaries somewhat :roll:


Now you have me curious.. what did ya do? lol.
still within the topic I think, in so much as its got to do with metals and resistance, current and such.


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Macgyver1968
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:02 pm
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I'm not sure if it would work with copper, but I've seen people brass plate steel by heating up the steel with a torch and using a wire wheel made of brass on it. It deposits a thin coat of brass on the steel.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:58 pm
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gbalkam wrote:
Now you have me curious.. what did ya do? lol.
still within the topic I think, in so much as its got to do with metals and resistance, current and such.


oh, I just wanted to see what the zinc deposit would look like if I used really high currents, until I saw that the plastic insulation started to smoke and melt near the contact points

I suppose I don't have to say I didn't try to repeat the experiment

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gbalkam
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:20 am
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marnixR wrote:
gbalkam wrote:
Now you have me curious.. what did ya do? lol.
still within the topic I think, in so much as its got to do with metals and resistance, current and such.


oh, I just wanted to see what the zinc deposit would look like if I used really high currents, until I saw that the plastic insulation started to smoke and melt near the contact points

I suppose I don't have to say I didn't try to repeat the experiment


yeah... i bet you weren't using a battery. LOL. I figure drawing enough current from a battery to heat a copper wire that much, would pop that battery like a balloon.

So actually I did go with the brass rod (0.81mm).. works great! I even made a how to video. Its not studio quality.. but its a how to for dummies.. lol. Gives the viewer confidence.. omg.. if this fool can make a video of how to do it.. SURELY I can manage to make the spring. lol


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: cheap and easy copper plating of steel wire?  |  Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:51 pm
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glad we could be of assistance, if that was indeed the case

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