Zinc Electroplating Testing

I wanted to experiment with the different surface finishes that could be applied to steel to protect it from rusting. Over the years I have seen many different finishes and want to start seeing if I can do some of them at home.

I have a prototype that I have been playing with to try and get correct and it needs protection from rusting, scratching and/or anything else that could damage the part. I did not want to paint the parts because it adds a too thicker layer to the part, I needed a very thin layer on the surface and Electroplating may be able to provide that.

if you’re reading this for information, please note, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just playing around but applying as much PPE as I can. It probably not good for you.

Plating solution

Before i can start plating I have to make the plating solution. Makint the plating solution is very easy if you have the equitment laying around like I have.

  1. Get the following equipment:
    • Container: I used a box from Ikea.
    • 12v power supply: I used an old PC/server power supply.
    • Wires
    • White vinegar
    • Salt
    • Zinc rods x2
  2. Find a ventilated area.
  3. Put vinegar in the container and salt until it stops dissolving in the vinegar.
  4. Attach the wires from the power supply to each of the Zinc rods, make sure they don’t touch.
  5. Lower into the vinegar-salt mix and turn on the power.
  6. I turned off the power and removed the rods after one of the rods started to row stuff of it.
  7. We have plating solution.

First Test

the first test was simply the same at making the solution but in revers and the negtive is the connected to what you wanted plating.

One of the first problems i saw was that the plating was only working from one side. It worked and worked well but it need to all around the part.


I did some reach and found that if you want to plate the whole outside of the part, you can use a tumbler in the solution. From my container, I make a tumbler from a metal bin and a 12V motor and a few 3D printed parts.

Seconds Test

I ran This test simular to the first test but instead of the part to be plated, it was the attached to the tumbler’s baral with the parts inside of it. When i ran the tumber, it more plated the the barrel then the parts.

It did not work too well.

Final Plating

The first test worked the best and have done more. The machine will need improvement but need to work out what improvement are needed.

I need to wait and see what the plating is like over time but after I finished plating it looks great (not professional but good). We will have to see whats it’s like in the future. I think this could work for protecting my parts if the long-term tests work out.

If you have any ideas on how to imporve it let me know, contact me.

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