Copper Plating on Zinc Alloy

Ask an Expert From: Products Finishing,

Posted on: 4/1/2004

Question: We have a customer who wants our company to copper plate on a zinc alloy (Zamak 3) substrate.


We have a customer who wants our company to copper plate on a zinc alloy (Zamak 3) substrate. We currently cyanide copper plate on steel. What is the process for doing this? P.H.


Actually, the plating of zinc alloys is fairly straightforward. Since you are currently using cyanide-based copper plating baths, you are familiar with one of the plating baths required. A standard process for plating copper on zinc alloys is as follows:

  • Degrease the part
  • Electroclean cathodically (direct or forward)
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Dip in a five ml in one liter sulfuric acid solution for 30 sec or until gassing begins
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Place parts in a cyanide copper strike bath. The parts must be placed in the strike bath "live." (Current must be on when the rack is placed in the plating tank.)
  • Plate at a CD of 25-30 asf for two min. Reduce the current to 10-15 asf and plate for an additional 4-5 min
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Dip in a 10 ml/l sulfuric acid solution
  • Plate in copper sulfate bath to the desired thickness

I should also add that a number of proprietary non-cyanide alkaline copper plating baths are commercially available. They work well in many applications and allow you to get away from using cyanide-based materials. Vendors of these baths can be found in the Products Finishing Directory and Guidebook, 2004 edition,


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