4 Steps on How Copper Plating Solution Works

Copper plating or copper electroplating is a massive industry that is rising enormously across the globe. It is considered as a highly refined and effective method in the metal coating industry. However, copper in itself is very expensive because of the limited supply and high demand. The reason for the demand of copper is high because it is a vital component used for everything from plumbing, wiring, electronics to industrial fertilizers and pesticides. Copper is a considered as a miracle metal because of its unique properties like this metal is malleable, it conducts electricity, resists corrosion and the best part is it can easily take on a variety of shapes. So, copper plating industry is on rise. Basically, copper plating is a process in which a thin layer of copper is plated or placed on the surface of a metal or a non-metal. This article will explain what is copper plating? and how does copper plating solution work?

Copper electroplating:

Copper electroplating is done through the use of electricity or bypassing electric current in a solution called an electrolyte. In copper electroplating solution, a container of water with the copper rod and the item that needs a copper plating is placed. This water contains an ionic solution that helps the electricity to flow directly from the copper rod to the plating item. By dipping two electrodes into the electrolyte and connecting it to a circuit with electricity or a battery, it dissolves the copper rod and physically transports the copper ions to the item that needs the plating. Hence, a thin, solid, metallic copper film or coating is formed on the surface of the item. In short the concept of copper electroplating solution is – when an item is submerged into an electrolyte bath, where electricity is directly applied to make the copper ions migrate and deposit on the surface of the metal that needs copper plating.

Copper plating solution

This process of copper electroplating is very interesting and it is also so astonishing to see how a mundane piece of metal can be transformed into an expensive product. Now we will have a closer look at how copper plating solution works.

How Copper Plating Solution Works:

    • STEP 1:

Choosing the right electrolyte and the right electrodes is the first step towards electroplating. So, for copper plating an electrolyte that is made from a solution of copper salt is necessary.

    • STEP 2:

The next step is to check that the electrode is completely clean and this can be done by dipping the electrode into an alkaline solution or a strong acid to make it dirt-free. This is an important step because if the electrode is not clean, then the copper atoms will not form a good bond on it and may erode or rub off. Hence, when the electrode is clean it will help the copper atoms to effectively bond on it and keep the copper plating strong and intact.

    • STEP 3:

Once the electrode is clean, then comes the actual process of electroplating. For this we require 1) Two electrodes which are of different conducting materials, 2) An electrolyte or the solution containing the salt of copper and 3) A battery or an electricity supply. For example, since here we are focusing on copper electroplating and if we want a copper plating on a piece of iron, then we need a copper electrode, an iron electrode that is clean and a solution of copper salt like copper sulfate solution. In this process the copper becomes the positive electrode or it is also called anode and the iron becomes the negative electrode or as it is called cathode.

    • STEP 4:

In this final step, once the two types of electrodes are dipped in the solution then comes the next step of connecting it to electricity. So, as soon as the setup is ready, electricity is passed and the copper sulfate solution splits into ions and gets attracted to the iron electrode, which slowly deposits a thin layer of copper plating on it. Copper electroplating takes times and it mostly depends on the concentration of the electrolyte and the strength of the electricity.

Electroplating can be used for various purposes either for protecting metal or for decorative purpose and that is why it is important that the metal that gets electroplated must remain durable and visually bright. Hence, copper plating is used in automobiles, aircraft, telecommunication, consumer goods and to make cheap metals look expensive.


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