Electroform/electrotype?

Electroform/electrotype?

Postby Damien W » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:24 pm

Hello all,

I was just wondering if anyone on here has any experience with electroforming?
Any input or suggestions on my perplexing issue would be very much appreciated :)

I've got a series of hinges to make that need to match existing chased metalwork on a Japanese chest and can't for the life of me figure out an alternative method (besides the proper way of chiselling and punching the designs in for every individual hinge...not something i think would end well).

My thinking is as follows:
To take molds of several pieces of existing metalwork
Then cast these in wax and cut down the shapes as required for hinges
Recut some minor sections of the patterns to make them blend in more naturally with the borders of the hinge shape
Take new molds of the new wax hinge patterns

and finally - either take the new molds to an electroplater or buy a kit and figure out how to do the electroforming myself to build up to the 1.5mm thickness needed
If this thickness doesnt seem strong enough for use as hinges i might have to solder the decorative electroformed plate to a thicker copper backplate?

The chest in question - i was thinking of taking off one of the wide middle plates from the back of one of the sides or the bottom middle on the back

2017090901-1 copy 5.JPG


And the sort of hinge i need to create (screenshot from another similar chest)

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.49.51 PM.png
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Re: Electroform/electrotype?

Postby Mac » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:39 am

What is stopping you just 'popping off' the metal work and sending them of to an investment caster to have copies made ?
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Re: Electroform/electrotype?

Postby Damien W » Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:52 am

Mac wrote:What is stopping you just 'popping off' the metal work and sending them of to an investment caster to have copies made ?


I had thought of casting, but wasn't sure if it'd be able to pick up the detail accurately?
As someone with almost no experience with casting these types of pieces i'm pretty much in the dark as to what its capabilities are...do you think it'd be suitable for producing the sort of thin (2mm thick) flat plates required for the job?
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Re: Electroform/electrotype?

Postby Mac » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:32 pm

I suggest you talk with an investment casting company. Thus is relatively coarse detail for jewellery casters so reproducing this isn't an issue. Centripetal ( old style) flask casting machines don't like large flat plates but vacuum machines are much more common these days. You will get a little shrinkage from casting but a lot of that came from the older vulcanised rubber molds. Modern RTV's don't seem to have that problem.
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Re: Electroform/electrotype?

Postby Garry J » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:02 pm

Hi Damien,

This suggestion is from left field but might be worth a try.
I'm an industrial designer and have lots of prototypes made in all sorts of materials. We have 3D printers at work but for metal parts we often use these guys:
https://www.protolabs.com/services/3d-printing/
Perhaps direct metal laser sintering could work if you can get the design into CAD. With 3D printing tech you can have a few pieces made with very little setup cost.
I have no connection with the company apart from using their services.
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