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Help - electro-forming


#1

We have been considering adding electro-forming to our
manufacturing, but know little about the process other than the
basics. We would appreciate any suggestions anyone might have
concerning equipment, solutions etc… Does anyone have a favored
supplier? How long does this process take? What has to be done
for polish/finish? We normally make reasonably small jewelry
items - pins, pendants and earrings. If this has been covered
recently, I appologize, just point me to the issue.

Thanks and best wishes (also Merry Christmas)
Barry


#2

Dear Barry:

Before my company changed focus entirely to software systems I
did quite a bit of consulting in electroforming and helped to
design a very large facility for a $200 miliion NY jewelry
manufacturer. I can say without hesitation that electroforming on
a commercial basis is not for the faint of heart or shallow of
pocket.

While electroforming copper and other metals is quite easy,
binary or trinary alloys such as 14k requires expensive computer
controlled equipment and rigorous control of the chemistry and
methods. There are also a host of other issues that have to be
dealt with such as the fact that the mandrel (the piece the gold
is formed over) must be made of wax or metal. If it is wax, there
is the issue of how to make it conductive. If it is metal you
have to deal with the time consuming and hazardous process of
dissolving the metal (usually zinc alloy) out.

I might be able to provide more detailed info if you care to
tell me more. For example, what type of products are you
considering? What volumes? etc.

Rick Kaye,
MPI Systems, Inc.


#3

Barry, I did a project with my daughter a bout 10 years ago using
electroforming. !st you need a special electroforming machine
your standard electroplater uses too high a amperage, you need
to work in milliamps. the solution you use for electro forming
can be the same as you use for plating. time frame 6-24 hours
depending on size and thickness you want.first you need some
metalic paint, the stuff you get at the local store will not
work not enough metal supended in the solution. I bought some
from Rio Grande a silver base. you paint the model , let it dry
then put into the electro forming solution dile in the correct
amp. and waite. We did find that you can get some very
interesting effects by chilling the solution to different
temperatures. I believe thet there is a company Del-Mar that
specializes in this process and sells all the chemicals you will
need. Vernon