View Full Version : Conductive Paint For Electroplating

David Paterson
12-22-2003, 12:52 PM
I am looking for a source for electrically conductive paint that can be used as a base for electroplating.

It has to adhere well to a sandblasted surface in an acidic electroplating bath.


Eben Horton
12-22-2003, 05:21 PM
Did you do a google search for electrodag?

David Paterson
12-22-2003, 09:59 PM
Electrodag is the name of a product group, not a specific product.

I was hoping to find a product someone actually uses.

When I studied glassblowing in the early 1980's, we used a copper based product from a hobby shop. It was not expensive and worked really well. Later, the shop couldnt get the product anymore for some reason.

I then tried a product from Acheson, who makes electrodag. It was silver based and quite expensive, and also didnt work. It peeled off in the copper bath I was using which was quite acidic.

At that point, I moved on, and havent done electroplating on glass since.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

TC Robertson
12-23-2003, 02:05 AM
David I have a bit of experience in electroforming on glass. I helped set up Pilchucks bath in 86 and took Micheal Glancy's class the next year. I have had a tank since 88 and have done work for a few artists including Martin Blank.
Its an involved deal to keep the chemistry right. Good to have a testing set up, for acid and copper. Plating suppliers will test your solution for a fee. I got a dag formula from the Metal Finishing Handbook which is laquer(sp?) laquer thinner and copper dust. I have a big can of copper powder, and would part with some ($15 for 4 oz) and you can mix it up yourself. It came from Cresent Bronze Powder in Chicago or LA. I will send the formula with the copper. Don't go for too small a bath, 20 gall. is the smallest I'd do. My small is 35 and medium 100, super duper, 250! I have never fired it up, too much $$. You can use agricultural copper sulfate and technical sulphuric acid to save money, but you must decontaminate the mix first.
There are certain additives that make the metal go on hard or softer, talk to your local plating suppliers about these. Its good to know just what you want. Big anodes! in bags! get em, use em. It make a diference in the long run. The anodes are doped with phosphorus, and the bags catch it. You must have some stirring action, by pump/filter or bubbler. I make up little plastic baskets wired to conduct and set work in them, rotating every 6-8 hrs. Don't get the voltage over 1 volt. I run about 1/2 to 3/4 volt. Put it on slow like paint, treeing may look cool, but its weak.
Remember it doesn't stick to the glass. Technics is a good supplier for small stuff. PM me and I'll fill in more blanks. Later<TC :wave:

Pete VanderLaan
12-23-2003, 08:36 AM
TC I would prefer it if you kept this public. We have not had a thread on this before and I intend to move it to Antiques and Classics. :dog:

Patrick Casanova
12-23-2003, 12:08 PM

Great thread! Wonderful information! Please keep it flowing... your knowledge is golden... we're forever beholden.

Darn been listening to too many of my son's Jurassic 5 and Streets Cd's.

Keith Clayton
12-23-2003, 02:31 PM
Well I guess this is where I should jump in and stop lurking.
We run two baths FULL TIME here in our Illinois studio. We have used many products for conductivity on glass. Everything from Dag to graphite. Our product of choice is called Spraybronze. It comes in a can and is applied like spraypaint.It requires a binder,as does Electrodag if you don't want the copper to peel off.The binder comes in a gallon paint can and has to be thinned. None of this stuff is friendly-I should mention plating is like having a pet snake-it will bite you every chance it gets but looks great!
Here's the one catch-we were getting all of this from a company called Warner Electric in Chicago and they have since stopped supplying it. We purchased a giant amount and have not had to find it again. I have seen students use metal paint from the hardware store and have good sucess.
Pete if there is interest I would be willing to go into detail on suppliers and post photos of our baths.
I'm gearing up to build two moly furnaces-under Steve's suoervision-and I'd be glad to post the documentation of that also. They are two completely different units-one invested and one freestanding. Both are being set up for our new Door County, Wisconsin studio.
Though I have not spent much time on this board ,the little I have has been very helpful and I'd like to thank you Pete-it's a great resource and I promise to contribute in the New Year.
Have Safe and Happy Holidays
Keith and Deanna Clayton
Examples of out work and plating on glass can be viewed on Tom Riley's website or Habatat's website (the one in Boca Raton)

Pete VanderLaan
12-23-2003, 03:03 PM
It's always nice to have people stop lurking and starting to contribute. Please, do post the photos and whatever else you can on the process. I would love to have this subject covered at the Santa Fe Conference. I know nothing about it although I have known Michael Glancy for over thirty years. So, cough it up! :dog:

TC Robertson
12-24-2003, 01:55 AM
Happy Time of the year to all! I will share what I have. Glancy is a card, eh? The first summer the bath was going at Pilchuck two fun incidents occured, the bath cyrstalized around the pump and it backed up all over the floor, then a mouse fell in and really screwed up the chemistry. Note: when organic contamination happens the solution should be heated to around 110-120 F and strong H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) is added to disolve it.
The Warner Co. as I remember sold bronzeing kits during the 50's and beyond. I have a great brochure from them showing a cigerette holder made from a babies shoe. I have a Warner power unit and consider it less than powerful. My main power source in an old battery charger that is controlled with a reostat and various wattage light bulbs, from 20w to 250. The anode area should be about double the plated area. Big bars of special copper in nylon bags, hanging on titanium hooks on copper bus bars, thats the deal on anodes. Find that plating supplier and get the Metal Finishing Handbook, lots of useless stuff in it, but a few gems.
The silver based dag worked when I had it, real pricey. I just found that fomula and stopped looking. A good air brush is needed, not too good, you don't need the feathering deal. This stuff will wear down the tips so be ready to get replacements. Get a cheap lazy susan and a vent hood to shoot it under, I used a cardboard box and fan for the vent. Make sure the dag totally coats the exposed surfaces, not too thick though. Small objects can be placed in plastic baskets( they put stawberries in them) that are wired to conduct across the bottom. The thing to be plated is rested on a bump in the wire(12ga) and starts gathering copper when immersed. Turning it every 4-8 hrs prevents sticking and promots even plating. The copper only goes in staight lines, if that object can't "see" the anode it won't get copper. Remember in your design, copper don"t stick to glass!

I will drag in some reference material for the next post and give more exact info. By the way, local(firemen), state, and federal officals are are always very interested in plating systems, I was inspected 6 times and they never looked in that room. I have now taken down my tanks and stored every thing safely just till I can have the right space, no cats swimming in it, and away from meltables(eveything). Have a nice rubber apron and long rubber gloves, eye protection and a baking soda bath ready to neutalize any unforseen accidents. Plan on having holes magically appear in shirts, pants, shoes. Later, TC :bang:

Howard Faxon
12-30-2003, 07:55 PM
I used a paint called Nickel Print from Zack electronics. At the time a little more than twice as much was one-tenth the price of the silver paint. (Silver was more expensive then) - One thing to consider is whether or not the "paint" will show through the glass (say if it is clear). If it will show; the bronze powder over shellac, or the silver paint, will look cool while the nickel print is like a dark gray....

Wallace Venable
12-31-2003, 11:12 AM
The jewelry workers' supply house Rio Grande sells a wide range of plating equipment and supplies. I don't have expertise on this topic, but they are easy to deal with.