In order for a workpiece to plate, its surface must be clean and activated. Grease, dirt, and rust must be removed. The most commonly used methods of cleaning are soaking and electric soaps (electrocleaning). Cleaning is of vital importance to the subsequent pickling process. In order for pickling to do its job and activate the surface so it will accept a plate, all foreign material must be removed. If you expect to be plating articles that may sometimes be heavily covered with grease, dirt, or other foreign materials, precleaning will be necessary. With precleaning, you will lengthen the life of your soap tank. Any method such as spray washing or brush scrubbing that will remove the contaminants is acceptable. Solvents such as methyl ethyl ketones and carbon tetrachloride are sometimes used to remove organic contaminants. They are generally used in a stainless steel or galvanized steel tank. Their fumes present a health and fire hazard, however. They also become contaminated and leave a dirty film on the workpiece. Another precleaning method utilizes a process known as vapor degreasing. Solvent is placed in a tank and heated at the bottom. Above the tank are cooling coils. Solvent will boil as it is heated, rise and form a vapor and condense when it reaches the cooling coils. It will then fall back into the tank. The parts to be cleaned are suspended in the area between the liquid in the vat and the cooling coils. The hot vapor in this region does an excellent job of removing foreign material. A degreaser set-up may also involve a sprayhead that can assist in removing contaminants. The effectiveness of this operation depends on the fact that the workpiece is cooler than the solvent, thus the vapor will condense on it and flush out contaminants as it drips back into the vat. If the workpiece reaches the vapor boiling point temperature, no condensation will occur and the flushing action ceases. This may be overcome by withdrawing the part and allowing it to cool or by immersing the part in a cooler vat of degreaser, then returning it to the vapor zone. The advantage with vapor degreasing is that the workpiece is cleaned with
solvent that is free of contamination. Solvents used include
perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene.
TITLE: HOBBYIST ELECTROPLATING MADE EASY- 3 day special! Get paperback or save money and
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