I just recieved my Stuller circular and I noticed they are
selling "The Wizard" disposable pen plater. It sounds too
good to be true, a plating system without a rectifier or
electricity! Has anybody used this? I'd like to try it out!
They aren’t “without electricity”. There is a battery in the
handle. It doesn’t need an external rectifier, since the fixed
voltage battery is in the handle… Like all pen platers, they
require more concentrated solutions to work well, but they do
work. Personally, I prefer a standard bath operation, since you
get more even, thicker deposits with fewer problems. But for
spot plating, especially for rhodium on small areas, these can be
handy. If you’ve got a regular recitifier, of course, you can
also easly make a small brush plater simply by running a wire of
a suitible anode material (platinum for rhodium) up to the base
of a bristle brush (one without a metal ferule. the little
plastic handled flux brushes work well)) or even a cotton swab.
The wizard will perform about the same as the benchtop pen
platers, but do have the disadvantage of the limited life of the
battery. (I don’t actually know if it’s replaceable. Anybody
know?) On the other hand, they’re fairly cheap.
For real cheap, though, make your own. As noted above, you
can make a pen/brush plater in all of about ten minutes. Use the
pen plating solutions for best results, but you can use standard
solutions if you’ve already got them, they just will work more
slowly. If you don’t have a recitifier, use a standard hardware
store six volt lantern battery.
The commercial pen platers usually use a porous fiber tip, which
works like a marker tip to hold solution. These give precise
placement of the deposit, but also hold much less solution, which
makes the pen solutions almost mandantory, as well as being a bit
problematic sometimes. Also, especially with rhodium, the fiber
tips deteriorate with use (the acid eats em up), and it’s hard
to get them clean enough to switch the same tip to another
solution, so you need extra tips for different solutions, and to
replace worn ones. The brushe type platers made from a flux
brush can be rinsed completely clean, and don’t deteriorate. The
little one I use for rhodium is about 8 years old now, and still
works fine. And it can easily enough use it for other solutions
if I need. It’s platinum anode is inert, so it doesn’t bother
other solutions at all.
Hope this helps.