Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

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Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 04 2018 11:55am

So I finally tried the following procedure .....

https://youtu.be/Q8Xo43sfLgY

As you can see from the pictures, the process worked well. :D I left the copper bus bar in the “nickel plate bath for 30-minutes and it came out shiny silver colored. My only question is why the alligator clip on the positive side of the bath literally dissolved away in the solution. I was only using about 3v so why would this happen? Thanks for any ideas.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 04 2018 12:01pm

I should note that the vinegar was only used to clean the pure nickel strips before they were placed on the right side (positive side) of the bath. I also used the vinegar to clean the copper bus bar prior to “soaking” it in the electro-plating “bath”. All other directions listed in the video link were followed.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by wturber » Aug 04 2018 8:35pm

garolittle wrote:
Aug 04 2018 11:55am
My only question is why the alligator clip on the positive side of the bath literally dissolved away in the solution. I was only using about 3v so why would this happen? Thanks for any ideas.
This is just a wild ass guess, but maybe the alligator clips were nickel plated and the process ionized the nickel and moved it onto your copper bars. Possibly did the same for the clip's base metal as well.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by gogo » Aug 04 2018 9:30pm

You might try copper clips?
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 05 2018 7:04am

Yep. I am fairly sure that is what happened. Will order copper clips today. Thanks.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by Harold in CR » Aug 05 2018 7:13am

Never put the clips in the solution. ALWAYS use a wire to attach to the parts. Years of electrolysis experience for preserving treasure ship artifacts. :)
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 05 2018 7:41am

Harold in CR wrote:
Aug 05 2018 7:13am
Never put the clips in the solution. ALWAYS use a wire to attach to the parts. Years of electrolysis experience for preserving treasure ship artifacts. :)
Now that you mentioned it, the video link included shows that is correct. I will try again today and will make sure the clip stays out is the solution. Thanks!
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 05 2018 10:28am

Harold in CR wrote:
Aug 05 2018 7:13am
Years of electrolysis experience for preserving treasure ship artifacts. :)
Thanks again for your suggestion. Your approach does seem to be working much better. Will post pics soon. By the way, I could only find the nickel ammonium sulfate “hexahydrate” with a purity of “98%”. Do you think this will be sufficient for nickel plating? My goal is to spot weld onto the nickel plated copper. Thanks for any more suggestions you may offer.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by wturber » Aug 05 2018 10:59am

Wikipedia suggests that nickel ammonium sulfate doesn't create a particularly robust surface. There are other methods out there. In one you create your own plating solution starting with nickel plate. All that aside, I'd think a plated surface would be too thin for welding but possibly decent for soldering. Not only that, but I'd imagine that the electrical and heat conductivity of the copper bar might make it difficult as well. I think spot welding depends on a fair amount of resistance. Of, course, try it and see what happens. Right?

If it doesn't work, you might consider soldering instead? It isn't like the bars are sensitive to heat in the same way that battery cells typically are.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 05 2018 12:20pm

wturber, Thanks for your response. I am actually trying out two ideas. 1)Nickel plating thin (.15mm) strips of copper for possible use in spot welding to the 18650 pack AND 2) Nickel plating copper bus bars for use in “cell fusing” to the 18650 pack. If I use the individual cell fuses, I will attempt to spot weld the fuse wire to the cell but I would solder the other end of the fuse wire to the copper bus bar. Using suggestions received on this thread, the nickel plated bus bar idea is working well. I am still using the alligator “clip” for the procedure but I managed a good plating in just 35 minutes.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by spinningmagnets » Aug 05 2018 3:01pm

These are good results, thanks for posting...

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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 05 2018 3:36pm

spinningmagnets wrote:
Aug 05 2018 3:01pm
These are good results, thanks for posting...
Yes Sir and thanks. The nickel plated bus bar approach seems to be working better than the plated .15mm copper sheets. Therefore, I will likely pursue the idea of spot welding individual fuses to each cell. Basically, I would nickel plate a bus bar like the one I created below and then spot weld the fuses to the 18650 cells.
42742375-9747-4258-A8A9-2FF55FAC5EF1.jpeg
Thanks for all of your help with this approach.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 07 2018 7:19pm

So I am going to try "Hard Nickle plating" this weekend. The method discussed above worked fairly well but I am going to try for even better results. The Hard Nickel approach uses the same concept but different ingredients. Will post the results as soon as possible.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 07 2018 7:27pm

A little more info on my experience from last weekend. I essentially "sanded" down the outer layer of my .15mm copper strips as well as the bus bars used for the experiments. I then soaked each in a bath of white vinegar and rinsed with water. Just to ensure no other contaminants remained in the surface, I then soaked each in a bath of water and Dawn dish soap followed by a thorough rinsing. The "sanding" certainly took off the mild corrosion since it literally took off a thin layer of copper. :lol: The only problem was that it left the surface a little "gritty" which may have hampered the nickel plaiting slightly. This is just my theory since I am certainly not an expert. This weekend, I will use the same cleaning process except I will replace the sanding with simple copper cleaner and a cloth. Hopefully, that will leave a perfectly smooth surface which (when cleaned with vinegar and/or Dawn dish soap) will be ideal for the "Hard Nickel" plating that I will attempt.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 12:25pm

So here we go with week number two of experimentation for nickel plating copper. Using the combination seen below, I used the same procedure as last week. However rather than sanding down the copper surface first, I used a common copper cleaner and then rinsed in vinegar followed by a bath in Dawn dish soap and hot water to remove all possible residue. The second picture below was taken after just one minute of electroplating. I am using .15 mm copper strips. So far so good. More to come
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 1:56pm

So this method is much better than the one used last week. Here is a think piece of copper I hammmered into about 2 square inches. No sanding to clean prior to nickel plating so I was a little concerned that I would not get a good plating. No worries. After just 10 minutes in the electroplating “bath” the copper emerged with a nice result.
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I moved the alligator clip about 5 minutes into the procedure to ensure no “bald spots”.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 2:05pm

This one really worked well. The .15 mm strip of copper soaked in the electorate bath for just 5-minutes. Really solid plating. Keep in mind that this is after reusing the electroplating bath solution at least 3 times. I am looking forward to using this .15 mm sheet for a practice “spot weld” onto a pack of 18650s. Very happy with the results so far. :D
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by Chalo » Aug 11 2018 2:13pm

I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish by plating copper with nickel.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by Voltron » Aug 11 2018 2:37pm

Probably to be able to spot weld it easier, and possibly to add long term corrosion resistance so the copper doesn't oxidize?

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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 2:41pm

Voltron wrote:
Aug 11 2018 2:37pm
Probably to be able to spot weld it easier, and possibly to add long term corrosion resistance so the copper doesn't oxidize?
Correct. Both. The idea of spot welding nickel plated copper has always fascinated me.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by spinningmagnets » Aug 11 2018 5:38pm

Copper is more available and cheaper than nickel. It's my understanding that spot-welding pure copper onto the ends of 18650 cells requires a level of energy that can heat up the cell enough to damage the insides.

Nickel is resistant enough to current that it heats up very much with the spot-welding current, and causes a solid connection very fast, before any welding heat can migrate into the depths of the cell, damaging the electrolyte. It resistance to current makes it spot-weld very easily, but at higher battery pack amp levels, it's resistance is also a bottleneck, rather than being a conductor.

By nickel-plating copper at home, battery pack builders can very affordably assemble a pack that doesn't have much voltage drop across the connective buses (because they have a copper core), and they do not corrode due to being plated with nickel. Plus they spot-weld easily.

This is how Makita and EGO assemble their packs (among others)

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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 5:50pm

The process of nickel plating is very easy. Just a few clicks on amazon.com and you have everything you need. :D
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by Chalo » Aug 11 2018 6:44pm

Voltron wrote:
Aug 11 2018 2:37pm
Probably to be able to spot weld it easier, and possibly to add long term corrosion resistance so the copper doesn't oxidize?
I reckoned it was something like that-- but the vanishingly thin layers you get with electrochemical plating don't seem like they'd help the welding process. And the oxidation or lack thereof on the surface of a copper bus bar doesn't have any effect on its performance. Seems like freshly cleaned copper at the time of welding would do the trick, with less overhead.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by garolittle » Aug 11 2018 7:05pm

Chalo wrote:
Aug 11 2018 6:44pm

I reckoned it was something like that-- but the vanishingly thin layers you get with electrochemical plating don't seem like they'd help the welding process.
Will run some experiments to find out. You may be right but the thought of using copper strips (4x more conductive than nickel strips) is interesting.
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Re: Electroplating copper with pure nickel (PICS)

Post by spinningmagnets » Aug 12 2018 4:43am

thin layers you get with electrochemical plating don't seem like they'd help the welding process
I am wondering this too. How thick does the nickel need to be? What is the welding-quality result at the various thicknesses of nickel-plating? Hope to have testing results soon.

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