Electroforming

The E3 Duo™ is an electronic controller designed for easy etching, electroforming and plating. Small objects such as twigs, leaves, shells, toys, and glass beads are just a few examples of common items you can electroform copper over to make charms and jewelry pieces using the controller. Plating is a similar process, allowing the user to use various anodes and plating solutions to electroplate silver, gold, or other metals over base metals including copper.

The E3 Duo™ controller is unique because it automatically regulates and maintains the current keeping it at a constant level to insure smooth plating. The controller is small, portable and can be used instead of a traditional plating rectifier.
 

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Frequently Asked Questions

For a full list of Frequently Asked Questions, read the E3 Duo™ Electroforming/Plating Instructions.

Can I plate multiple objects at one time?
Yes, but make sure they are similar in size and shape so that they electroform uniformly as the copper is distributed to each. Attach each object to its own wire, and then twist all the wire ends together so they share a common stem (think of leaves growing on a tree branch).  Position the objects away from each other so they don’t touch each other or the copper anode coil during electroforming.  Another way to plate multiple pieces is to wire each piece onto a common copper rod so that all of the pieces are positioned in a row suspended from the rod. Rest the rod over a rectangular shaped vessel lined with a copper anode (sheets or wire).  This will allow you to form individual pieces at once on a large scale.  See our Electroforming and Plating Multiples PDF for step-by-step instructions.

My project is a dull color and appears grainy. It doesn’t look like copper. What’s going on?
If your solution starts forming or plating with a dull, rough, salmon-colored finish, add 2 full droppers of brightener during the plating process to restore the smooth, bright finish. Another cause could be that the current level is set too high. Turn the current level down and see if the piece becomes shinier. If you are using solution that has been used before, replace the solution, as it will lose the ability to plate smoothly as the acid levels are depleted. Acid is vital for bright, shiny copper. A warm environment is also helpful. Agitation is beneficial in addition to warmth. Organic materials leaching into the solution can also cause poor plating. Be sure to seal objects completely. If you see black areas on your piece that are not plating, rinse the piece, re-seal, and reapply conductive paint.  After drying, electroform the piece again and this usually solves the problem.  If your finished piece is formed with a layer of copper that is has a flat dull copper color, it can be brushed and polished to a bright shine.  A brass brush alone can do wonders as you can see on the cowboy below!

If I want to add more copper to an object, can I put it back in the solution to continue electroforming?
Yes. Clean the copper well before electroforming an object a second time. Use a pickle solution or a purchased electro-cleaner to remove oxidation before electroforming again. If you would like to add more copper to the object, simply re-plate. If there are missing areas that did not plate well, re-apply varnish and conductive paint to the object before re-plating. 

Can I plate over base metal or old jewelry pieces with gold, silver and other metals?
Yes. The E3 Duo™ controller works great for plating metal objects or old jewelry. You can plate with nickel, silver and gold, just to name a few. Jewelry making suppliers sell a variety of plating solutions with instructions detailing which anode is appropriate to use and how long to plate in the solution. Simply substitute the E3 Duo™ controller in place of a plating rectifier when following the directions using the correct anode and timing. Set the controller to a LOW current level (.05-.1A) for most plating solutions depending on the size of the piece. You won’t need to use conductive paint, as a metal object is already conductive by itself. Each metal calls for different steps, solutions, anodes, equipment and safety concerns. Plating takes quite a bit of training and knowledge so be sure to research the steps of the particular metal and solution you want to use before committing to plating.  Read more about plating with gold, silver, or other metals here.

Free Projects


Videos

E3 Duo Electroforming and Etching Basics

 

Electroforming with Sherri