Electroforming to make printing plates for the printing of money. Copper was deposited onto an etched material, which was removed after to create the printing plate. Electroforming uses the same principles and chemicals as electroplating, however, it is usually done involving non-metal substrates; plastics, clays, silicones, organic materials.
Copper is one of the most commonly electroplated metals, after nickel. This is due to the numerous applications in which copper plays a vital role as well as the properties of copper and the ease of electrodeposition. A few of the benefits are listed below:
1. High plating efficiency: Copper has a high plating efficiency resulting in excellent coverage on difficult to plate parts, such as intricate zinc die castings. This means that minor imperfections in the base metal, such as pits and scratches, will also be covered.
2. Inert in other plating solutions: Copper is relatively inert in most plating solutions.
3. Conductivity: Copper has a very high electrical and thermal conductivity, one of the reasons for its high plating efficiency. The thermal conductivity leads copper to act as an effective thermal expansion barrier. It does this by absorbing and distributing stress when metals with two different thermal expansion rates undergo a change in temperature, resulting in fewer breakages. This is especially useful on plastics.
4. Range of mechanical hardness: Copper has can range in hardness from properties superior to wrought copper to annealed pure copper. It can be relatively soft which means that the levelling and brightness of copper can be enhanced after plating due to the ease of polishing and buffing.
The qualities above lead copper to be an excellent metal for electroforming.