What Is Electroforming Brightener? | Problems And How To Fix Them
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What Is Electroforming Brightener? | Problems And How To Fix Them

Electroforming Brightener | My Piece Isn’t Shiny!

In this article what is electroforming brighter?

We are going to discover the problems and how to fix them.

Brightener, Brightener is an essential part of the electroforming process. All the magic of electroforming wouldn’t be possible without the existence of the chemical substance known as brightener. Brightener, as the name suggests, is what allows your electroforming results to shine bright like a star, and without a brightener, electroforming wouldn’t be what it is today. 

The Answer To The Question… What Is Electroforming Copper Brightener?

What is electroforming copper brightener?

Electroforming Copper brightener is a chemical substance that is used to brighten the final result of your electroforming process.

It is very important to use the right amount of brighteners to avoid issues like dull pieces or extremely shiny pieces!

As you can see brightener is an essential part of the electroforming process, and sometimes the use of a brightener or picking the right brightener for the job can be an overwhelming task!

There is no need to worry though as you’ve found the right article to help you with all your worries!

In this article we’ll discuss every obstacle between you and the perfect electroforming piece related to brightener, we’ll guide you through all the ins and outs of brightener, are you ready to become a brightener expert?

Then get reading!

*Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means that I am awarded a small commission for purchases made through them, at no added cost for you.

What Is Copper Brightener For Electroforming?

As mentioned before, brightener is used to brighten the final result of your electroforming process.

Using the correct brightener type and the correct amounts can make the difference between a perfect shiny piece of beauty and a dull, patchy, and odd-looking result!

Brightener works by becoming a part of the final copper surface and reflecting light giving the surface a desirable, shiny, and bright look.

To achieve the optimal results brightener should be added in intervals throughout the electroforming process if needed, as brightener depletes during the process simply adding a dose at the beginning won’t be sufficient for larger projects!

Okay so we know what brightener is now and we’re ready to use it, before we can we’ll have to acquire it first, but how do you know which brightener type is right for you?

Overall, the advice on this would be to not worry about it too much as most substances you can buy on most retailer shops on the web will work just fine.

One thing to note is that you should make sure that you buy the right brightener for the metal you’re working with.

In our case we’re working with copper, so we’ll be focusing on copper brightener but if you’re using nickel for example make sure you’re using the appropriate brightener!

Later in this article, we’ll discuss the different brightener brands and types in more detail.

So, as we’ve mentioned previously brightener is a substance that can’t be overlooked in the electroforming process.

The importance of brightener can’t be stressed enough, and this article is here to help you every step of the way!

Why Do You Need Electroforming Brightener?

We briefly mentioned this topic earlier in the article, and the answer is rather simple, it’s in the name!

You need brightener to brighten your pieces! Brightener adds a shiny metallic look to your final result, which is highly desirable!

Adding insufficient or wrong brightener can have some noticeable consequences on your piece.

Your piece will look dull and it might have a rough texture on the newly electroformed surface.

In the worst-case scenario, your piece could have a salmon pink color, this can create highly underwhelming results!

If you don’t believe us, you can check the contrast of using brightener and no brightener for yourself! You can do this using a technique called the 10p coin technique.

Take a 10p coin and clean it properly, then place it in your electroforming setup for 10 minutes, do this once with and once without brightener and the results should be very clear!

What Is Electroforming Brightener?
What Is Electroforming Brightener?

Problems With Low Amounts Of Electroforming Brightener

As we’ve covered in the previous paragraphs, a shortage of brighteners can have significant consequences for your electroforming success.

Not adding sufficient amounts of brightener can have dissatisfactory results and should therefore be avoided at all costs!

You can detect a brightener shortage by analyzing your failed pieces, does it feel rough? Does it look dull, or perhaps even pink?

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you might be dealing with a brightener shortage! No worries though! Let’s see how to fix and prevent it.

If you’ve fallen victim to the brightener shortage issue your best bet would simply be to add more brightener and try again, there isn’t another solution to get rid of the symptoms other than giving it another shot!

In the future, this can be prevented by regularly adding brightener as the process is going as simply adding brightener at the start won’t be sufficient for some projects!

Problems With High Amounts Of Electroforming Brightener

Now we know that we shouldn’t add too little brightener as it messes with our results, but this doesn’t mean that more is better!

You obviously shouldn’t go crazy on the brightener use either, as there is such a thing as using too much brightener!

Too much brightener can cause excessively shiny pieces or other generally poor electroforming results.

Adding too much brightener happens way less often than adding too little, this is due to the fact that it takes way too much like excessive amounts of brightener to be considered too much, brighteners can have different strengths, but a little more than recommended really won’t hurt your project!

In order to avoid issues like excessive amounts of brightener, it’s highly recommended to use tools like droppers to easily measure and apply the correct amounts of brightener to your electroforming solution.

Most store-bought brighteners come with a dropper like this, if not they can be found in any store for very low prices!

Where Are The Best Places To Buy Electroforming Brightener?

Now that you’re more educated on what brightener is and how to use it, let’s have a look at the many places brightener can be bought from.

All of these places offer similar products, but we’ll have a look at the slight differences and give a short description of each one!

First off, we’ve got brightener from Midas Brightener, the brightener I personally use for my projects.

This brightener comes with a dropper tool and according to the manufacturer, 2-3 drops of the substance should be sufficient to achieve the desired results!

This brightener can be bought from: https://www.riogrande.com/product/midas-replenishing-brightener-for-electroforming-copper/335065

Moving on, we’ll look at Cumac’s copper brightener.

Cumac offers a large quantity of bottled brightener (250ml) for a decent price of $14. It doesn’t come with a measuring tool of any kind, but it’ll supply you with enough brightener for a while!

This brightener can be bought from: https://janekits.com.au/products/cumac-copper-brightener-250-ml/

Next up, we’ve got Spa Plating’s copper electroforming brightener.

The brightener comes in varying quantities and varying prices, their website offers tons of information on the product and everything you’ll want to know can be found there!

This brightener can be bought from: https://www.goldn.co.uk/product/copper-electroforming-brightener/

For our final little brightener review, we have Caswell copper brightener.

Caswell offers many different brightener types for all metals you can think of.

Caswell offers a two-part brightener system, part A and B are used for the initial makeup of your electroforming bath, type B is known as a leveling agent, this means that it slows down the process where needed to evenly distribute the current and copper across the piece, and is then occasionally used during the electroforming process to ensure a smooth and shiny finish!

Part A comes at $5.49 for 1.5 OZ., Part B can be bought for $7.99 per 4 OZ.

If you want to learn more about leveling agents or electroforming brightener in general here’s the link to a useful site:

Lustro Electro Electroform Brightener Part A and B Is my Pick!

Electroform Brightener Part A / Leveling Agent Part B Special Combo Free Part B Copper Plating Brightener Part A&B

Electroform Brightener Part A / Leveling Agent Part B Special Combo

  1. Lustro Electro is a proprietary blend of sulphur bearing compounds used in micro amounts as a grain refiner and true copper brightener tailored specifically for your electroforming needs.
  2. Lustro Electro has adopted the same technology as used in the electronics, home housewares, medical and automotive industry.
  3. Lustro Electro Super Bright does not contain DIY ingredients such as thiourea or miralax as these break down easily in your bath and lead to brittle deposits.

https://electrojewelerjordan.com/?product=electroform-brightener-leveling-agent-discounted-combo-copper-plating-brightener-low-shipping-cost-ships-anywhere-in-the-world

This brightener can be bought from:

Part A: https://caswellplating.com/copper-brightener-part-a-1-5oz.html

Part B: https://caswellplating.com/copper-brightener-part-b-4oz.html

All of these webshops are reliable sources of brightener and with the provided information and the information on the individual websites, you should be able to choose the brightener that’s right for you!

How To Make Copper Electroforming Brightener – DIY

If you’re not interested in buying brightener from any of the previously mentioned commercial stores, and you’re more of the DIY type of person, great news!

You can DIY your own brightener! Let’s have a look at how to do it.

This tutorial is based on this great video by Jason Welsh on YouTube, he has a great channel for both beginner and more experienced electroforming artists.

Here is Jason Welsh on YouTube Making Copper Electroforming Brightener it’s very informative.

This Video Explains How To Make Your Own Brightener

Making your own brightener might be easier than you think, the main ingredient of brightener is Glycol which can be bought in stores under names as MiraLAX for example.

You’ll need around 30ml of glycol, mix it together with 100ml of distilled water and stir it using a glass rod, be sure not to use plastic! 

After mixing, pour your substance into a dropper glass, and voila! You have made your own personal brightener!

Obviously, this brightener isn’t as sophisticated as some of the commercial ones, but it should work just fine, and it might save you a few bucks as well!

Always be careful when using substances like these as they are not your everyday chemicals!

Even though I’m able to make my own electroforming brightener I still choose to buy the commercial Midas Brightener.

What Is Brightener In Electroplating?

Electroforming and electroplating are similar disciplines in the form of metal arts, but they should never be thought of as the same thing!

Electroplating, as the name suggests, consists of plating an object with a thin layer of a certain metal while electroforming creates a thick shell of metal and the inside material can even be removed from an electroformed piece!

Because electroplating also creates a new surface of metal on a non-metallic object, brightener is needed here too.

Electroplating has an incredible amount of brightener options such as leveler or auxiliary brighteners, but in the end, their purpose is the same as in electroforming, to avoid a rough and dull surface and to add shine to your pieces!

Electroforming and electroplating can have very similar but also very different applications, the process is similar, but the results can vary strongly.

If your project desires a strong final shell made of the chosen metal, then electroforming is the way to go!

If you only want a metal finish on your piece you might want to look into electroplating!

How To Troubleshoot Electroforming Brightener Issues?

As we discussed earlier, many if not all brightener related issues can be identified by analyzing the results of your electroforming setup and seeing if any of the above-mentioned symptoms, such as a dull or rough surface, unwanted shades of pink, or on the contrary a way too bright poorly applied surface, you’re most likely dealing with a brightener issue!

To solve this, you can try the above-mentioned methods, but the most important thing when working with brightener, and any other chemical, is to closely read the manual that comes with the package.

All the information you need will be there, and most importantly the safety precautions you’ll have to take can also be found here!

A good way to check if you’re adding the right amount of brightener, or even if you’re running the right current setting, or any other electroforming related setting you might want, is to look at Spa Plating’s electroforming calculator.

Here, you can fill in the surface area of your piece, your desired coating thickness, and your bath size, and the machine will do all the calculation work for you!

The calculator can be found here: https://www.goldn.co.uk/product/copper-electroforming-brightener/

Final Thoughts

To conclude this article, we’ve looked at the different brightener types to choose from and we tried to give you a basic brightener education to help you along in your journey as an electroforming artist!

We hope that after reading this article you’ll be able to properly use the best brightener for your project! As always stay safe and good luck on your electroforming journey!

Sources

Community, Wikipedia. “Nickel Electroplating.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_electroplating#Brighteners_[4].

Inc, Caswell. “90 Results for ‘Brightener’.” Caswell Inc, Caswell Inc, caswellplating.com/search.php?search_query=Brightener§ion=product.

Jane. Jane Kits, Jane Kits, janekits.com.au/products/cumac-copper-brightener-250-ml/.

Midas. “Midas Replenishing Brightener for Electroforming Copper.” Rio Grande, Midas Brightener, www.riogrande.com/product/midas-replenishing-brightener-for-electroforming-copper/335065.

Plating, Gateros. Gateros Plating Ltd, Gateros Plating, www.gaterosplating.co.uk/electroforming-kit-problems.

Plating, Spa. “Copper Electroforming Brightener + 3ml Pipette.” Spa Plating – Gold Plating Kit, Spa Plating, 19 Jan. 2021, www.goldn.co.uk/product/copper-electroforming-brightener/#:~:text=For%20home%2Dmade%20solutions%20add,litre%20of%20home%2Dmade%20solution.

Michael From HobbyistGeek.com

Michael

ELECTROFORMING | FUSED GLASS | METAL ARTIST

I’m documenting my electroforming journey step by step. I wish I had this information when I started my electroforming journey.


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