Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

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Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:45 pm

One of my hatchling corns is on its way out, I have tried every possible thing I can to save it but it has a slight spinal kink and a shortened head.
It has only eaten once in its 6 months since hatching. I will continue to try to get it feeding but if it does pass on I want to try something.

I have been doing novice electroplating for a couple of months now and I have gotten pretty good, have plated plenty of organic items like flowers, leaves, twigs and even a big rain spider that fried on my electric fence. All in copper, nickle and brass. I really want to try silver but have not found an item that seems worthy of it.

If my little baby dies, I would never intentionally kill it but if it does die, I am going to try plate it in silver.

I want to know if this is unethical, illegal or will be looked upon badly by the reptile community?
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Mr Venom » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:01 pm

In my view, if it is the animals time to go, it is it's time to go.

Sure we would like to keep our animals forever, but why let them suffer for longer?
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Westley Price » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:51 pm

I dont see anything wrong with it.

In fact, I think it would make for a nice little trinket.

How will you get the dead snake o hold it's shape?

I look forward to the end result, and please post some pics of the flowers etc which you have done.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:59 pm

To hold an items shape I use quick dying lacquer before I start plating for a snake I would probaly thread a peace of stiff copper wire through it as well as the lacquer. Will hunt around for my other items and post some pics on the weekend.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby F1refly » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:14 pm

I don't see any real problems with it and I highly doubt it's illegal. I for one would do the same with my beloved Exotics if I had the oppurtunity. Question, does the animal/object need to be preserved/mummified prior to electroplating?
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:27 pm

No it does not need to be mummified but a day of two in some denatured alcohol won't hurt, Basically the process just makes an airtight metal casing around the item, It will rot inside but very slowly and unless you actually cut the item open you wont even know there is anything inside. For larger snakes you would need to gut them before the process as you would hear the decomposed matter sloshing around inside.

Dry is better but dry does not have the same shape as the original, I dry my flowers and leaves but thats only so the laquer sticks better for a "wet" item I will use polyurethane mixed with wax instead of laquer then a conductive coat then plate it.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby iiviii » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:50 pm

This sounds very interesting. How would I learn how to do electroplating?
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:14 pm

Everything I learned was through research and am by no means anywhere near an expert, Also home electroplating is not really big in this country so not much in the way of available kits.
I had to sorce my own chemicals and while some are easy to get and are cheap, some are nearly impossible to get consumer wise unless you work for a mining operation or chem supplier.
Safety is extremely important as most of the chemicals are dangerous and/or carcinogenic, the gold and silver plating requires cyanide which also requires special waste disposal service(expensive).

To learn I would start with internet sources like http://forum.caswellplating.com/forum.p ... 69b2131829 and http://www.finishing.com helped me a lot and they explain pretty much everything.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby iiviii » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:49 am

Its a pitty that the chemicals are hard to come by. But thanks for the info, very interesting!
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby froot » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:02 am

For larger snakes you would need to gut them before the process as you would hear the decomposed matter sloshing around inside.


*shiver* Yuk!

You can neutralise the toxicity of waste cyanide solutions with a molar excess of caustic soda (NaOH) and hypochlorite bleach (NaOCl or CaOCl) to form non-toxic cyanates.

Ideally you'd need to remove decomposable organic matter from the metal form and to achieve this I suggest this:
When you apply your conductive 'activator' coating to the surface leave a +/- 3mm strip down the length of the belly uncoated using a brush or if spraying using a strip of tape or soft wax.
Prime it in the cyanide copper bath, rinse thoroughly and then leave it in the acid copper for a good while to ensure a fairly thick layer of copper on the skin. Use brighteners in your acid copper bath to get a good lustrous finish, the better the surface finish the better your silver coat will look.
Now wash the animal throughly to ensure there is no trace of cyanide and leave it with flesh eating fauna such as maggots or mealworms for a few days/weeks. Once the skeleton is exposed you might want to soak it in water from time to time to soften the bones for the fauna to consume. Edit: you could also burn the organics out in a oven or a fire but a good clean afterwards is very necessary.
Eventually you'll be left with just the copper you plated on it which is at this stage very fragile. Now soak it and brush out any organic remnants inside the copper skin leaving a clean metal surface, very important that it is clean properly. Apply an inhibitor (wax) to the outside only and place it back into the acid copper bath to thicken the copper skin from the inside. The thickness should be such that it's rigidity is good enough to be handled without deforming.
Once you're satisfied, a 20 second dip in a silver tank will give you the end result, just don't forget to rinse it properly.
Just remember this sort if thing is governed by the sh!t in sh!t out rule, if you slip up somewhere in the process, the end product will magnify your boo boo tenfold.
Out of curiosity, what are you using to activate non-conductive surfaces to plate on?
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:16 am

In all honestly I will probaly not go the process of removing the organic waste for such a small item but for large items like say an apple or adult snake I would.
To prime for conductivity I have 3 different methods. 1st is a conductive graphite spray(works quiet well but takes very long to plate), 2nd is a Conductive copper spray used for static shielding in plastic contianers(horrid stuff always tends to peel) and last I have a little bit of 2 part silvering solution(Works extremely well but costs R1500 per 500ml).
I first plate copper then bright nickel at this stand its hard as hell and chrome shiny last I plate a finish. I have only ever done brass and fake chrome(nickel+cobalt) as a finish the other finishes require cyanide solutions and plating companys wont sell any to me as of yet.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby froot » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:37 am

Nickel and especially Chrome solutions are hazardous and highly carcinogenic, you're working with hexavalent chromium here so just be extremely careful adhering to ppm exposure limits. Even breathing in vapours from warm solutions can be incredibly harmful! You also need to plate at high temperatures and you cannot throw spent solutions down the drain. If I were you I'd stay away from those. If you want chrome finishes you can take your copper plated article to someone that can CVD aluminium onto it for you - same finish, that's how they do it nowdays. I'll try get you some sources for CN solutions, have the numbers at home.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:51 am

I don't plate with chrome its as you say very difficult and disposal is expensive. I plate with a solution of Nickle cobalt its called Replica Chrome I think and is done in an acid bath.
Trust me I know the risks I take safety very seriously and have a small diy lab for all of this with correct ventilation and equipment.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby Primogen » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:14 am

Froot you seem very knowledgeable in regards to this have you done it before or do you work in this field, You sound very much like a chemist.
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Re: Electroplating your deceased reptiles.

Postby froot » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:00 am

I'm a dabbler, I dabble in almost everything to try satisfy a burning desire to know how and why. Also bought a load of plating equipment recently which also helped me to contribute to your endeavour.
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