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fresh solution is not available for
each test.

OTHER HULL CELL APPLICATIONS


Covering power. Hull cells can be
used to also test the covering power
BY JOE FOX, FINISHING TEST SUPPLY, INC., PAINESVILLE, OHIO of solutions. Tests are usually run at
0.2 amp for 1 minute. This gives a
current density of approximately 12
Testing Methods for Electroplating Baths to 0.4 ASP. This current density will
Part ill: Interpretation oftest results. usually provide an accurate determi-
nation of covering power. The effects
of addition agents can also be inves-

T h e hull cell and jiggle cell are the


two most widely used test equip-
ment paraphernalia for electro-
lar plating bath problem. The opera-
tor should look at one of the possible
causes at a time to determine the cor-
tigated.

Cleaning and base metal compatibility.


platers and electroplating addition rect action. The causes and necessary Hull cells can be used to evaluate the
agent suppliers. The interpretation remedies are listed from the most to base metal's ability to accept electro-
of these test results is important. The least frequent causes. plating. Hull cells can also be used to
operator must make a judgment It should be noted that when run- check the cleaning process prior to
based on previous tests on known ning more than one test on a solu- electroplating. When proprietary
acceptable plating solutions. tion, the composition in the hull cell addition agents are used, it is good
The tables that follow list the com- can change rapidly. Therefore, it is practice to contact the supplier for
mon causes and the corrective recommended that the concentra- specific recommendations.
actions needed to improve a particu- tions of the solution be adjusted if

Problem Possible Cause How to Correct

Cloudy deposit MCD or HCD 1. Low brightene r 1. Increase concentration of brightener


2. Low pH 2. Adjust pH
3. Organic contamination 3. Carbon treatment
4. Metallic contamination 4. High pH + carbon treatment

Dull deposit LCD area 1. High brightener 1. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF
2. Metallic contamination 2. "Dum my" solution at 4-5 ASF
3. Low carrier 3. Add carrier
4. High agitation 4. Reduce agitation rate

Cloudy deposit LCD area 1. Low brightener 1. Adjust brightener concentration


2. Low pH 2. Adjust pH
3. Low index 3. Add index
Poor leveling 1. Low brightener 1. Add brightener
2. Low carrier 2. Add carrier

Poor ductility 1. High brightener 1. "Dum my" solution at 4-5 ASF


2. Low carrier 2. Add carrier
3. High pH 3. Adjust pH
4. Metallic contamination 4. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF
5. Organic contamination 5. Carbon treatment
Burning 1. Low nickel salts/boric acid 1. Add nickel salts/boric acid
2. High CD 2. Reduce CD
3. Low temperature 3. Adjust temperature
4. Low agitation 4. Increase agitation rate
5. Chromate contamination 5. High CD "dummy" + high pH treatment
6. Metallic contamination 6. High pH + carbon treatment

Skip plating 1. High brightener 1. "Dum my" solution at 4-5 ASF


2. Metallic contamination (e.g.. Zn, Cd, Pb) 2. "Dum my" solution at 4-5 ASF
3. Chromate contamination 3. High CD "dummy" + high pH treatment

Bright Nickel: Panels are usually plated at 2 amps for 5 minutes on st eel panels.

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TECHNICALLYspeaking
Problem Possible Cause How to Correct

Cloudy deposit MCD or HCD 1. Low leveler 1. Increase concentration of leveler


2. Low pH 2. Adjust pH upward
3. High control agent 3. Reduce control agent concentration
4. High STEP Additive (carbon filter)
5. Organic contamination 4. Temporarily discontinue additions
6. Metallic contamination (e.g., Fe. Si, AI. 5. Carbon treatment
Cr' l) 6. High pH + carbon treatment
7. Low agitation 7. Increase agitation

Cloudy deposit LCD Area 1. Low leveler 1. Adjust leveler concentration


2. Low pH 2. Adjust pH

Dull deposit LCD Area 1. Metallic contamination 1. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF

Poor leveling 1. Low leveler 1. Add leveler


2. Low control agent 2. Add control agent
3. Low pH 3. Adjust pH
4. High STEP additive 4. Temporarily discontinue additions
5. Low agitation 5. Adjust agitation

Poor ductility 1. High Leveler 1. Reduce leveler concentration


2. Low control agent 2. Add control agent
3. High pH 3. Adjust pH
4. Metallic contamination (e.g.• Zn. Pb, Cd) 4. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF
5. Organic contamination S. Carbon treatment

Burning 1. Low nickel salts/boric acid 1. Add nickel salts/boric acid


2. High CD 2. Reduce CD
3. Low temperature 3. Adjust temperature
4. Low agitation 4. Increase agitation rate
5. Chromate contamination 5. High CD "dummy" + high pH treatment-
6. Met allic contamination 6. High pH + carbon treatment

Skip plating 1. High leveler 1. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF


2. Low control agent 2. Add control agent
3. Metallic contamination (e.g.• Pb, Zn,Cd, 0,'6) 3. "Dummy" solution at 4-5 ASF

Semibright Nickel-Nan-Coumarin: Panels are usually plated at 2 amps for 5 minutes on steel panels.

Problem Possible Cause How to Correct

Poor covering power 1. Low current density 1. Increase current density


2. Poor electrical contact 2. Ensure positive electrical contact
3. High sulfate (low ratio) 3. Lower sulfate (add barium carbonate)
4. High catalyst 4. Temporarily add chromic acid
5. High temperature 5. Lower temperature

HCD burn uniform in shape. 1. Low temperature 1. Adjust temperature


not patchy 2. Current density too high 2. Adjust current density
3. Chromic acid too low 3. Increase chromic acid
4. Low sulfate (high ratio) 4. Analyze and adjust sulfate
5. Low catalyst 5. Adjust catalyst to within range

Whitewash 1. Low sulfate 1. Analyze and adjust sulfate


2. Low catalyst 2. Adjust catalyst to within range

Hexavalent Chromium-Mixed Catalyst: Panels are usually plated at 5 amps for 2 minutes on nickel-plated st eel panels.

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TECHNICALLYspeaking
Problem Possible Cause How to Correct
Dark smudges on work 1. High pH 1. Adjust pH
2. Low wetting agent 2. Add wetting agent
3. Low complexer 3. Add complexer
4. Low chromium concentration 4. Add chromium

White deposit at LCD cutoff 1. Zn, Pb contamination 1. "Dummy" solution at 15 ASF

White patches on work 1. Lead contamination 1. "Dummy" solution at 15 ASF


2. Poor cleaning prior to nickel 2. Improve cleaning
3. Part dries prior to chromium plating 3. Keep parts slightly wet
Poor coverage 1. Low pH 1. Correct pH
2. Low specific gravity 2. Add conductivity salts
3. Zn, Pb contamination 3. "Dummy" at 15 ASF
4. High air agitation 4. Reduce air agitation
5. High temperature 5. Reduce temperature

Dark deposits overall 1. High temperature 1. Adjust temperature


2. High pH 2. Adjust pH
3. Metallic contamination 3. "Dummy" solution at 15 ASF
Trivalent Chrome (Sulfate Chloride System) : Panels are usually plated at 5 amps for 2 minute s on nickel-plated steel panels.

Problem Possible Cause How to Correct

Poor leveling 1. Insufficient agitation 1. Increase agitation


2. Solution temperature is less than 70°F 2. Increase solution temperature to 70°F
3. Copper content of solution is too low 3. Increase copper content of solution
4. Brightener concentration is too low 4. Add brightener
5. Chloride content is out of normal range 5. Analyze and adjust chloride

Pitting 1. Grease or oil contamination in plating bath 1. Carbon treat bath


2. Particulate matter in bath 2. Filter bath
Streaking in deposit 1. Excessive brightener additions 1. "Dummy" solution at 15 ASF.
2. Organic contamination 2. Carbon treat solution
Burnt deposit HCD 1. Insufficient agitation 1. Increase agitation
2. Solution temperature is less than 70°F 2. Increase solution temperature
3. Copper content of solution is too low 3. Increase copper content
4. Bright ener concentration too low 4. Increase brightener
5. Chloride content is out of normal range 5. Analyze and adjust chloride
Acid Copper: Panels are usually plated at 2 amps for 10 minutes on brass panels.

Problem Possible Cause How to Correct

LCD skip plate 1. High brightener 1. Dummy plate solution


2. High zinc 2. Reduce zinc metal
Burnt deposit HCD 1. Low zinc metal 1. Increase zinc metal concentration
2. Low brightener 2. Add brightener

Appearance After Nitric Post Dip or Clear Chromat e


Black stain in HCD. 1. Iron contamination 1. Reduce iron contamination
overall yellow deposit

Black or brown stain in LCD 1. Copper contamination 1. Reduce copper contamination

Bright Acid Chloride Zinc: Panels are plated at 3 amps for 5 minutes on steel panels.

810
Joe Foxisthesales and technical specialistjor Finishing Test Supplv, Inc., located iii Painesville. Ohio. lie can be reached at info(d~fini)}­
ingtestsllppb'·colll.

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