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  • plating a spoon

    During my exploits in creative led lighting, I wanted to use a soup spoon as a reflector. The design works out well, giving a decent looking pattern of light. The spoons are stainless, which reflects ok, but not as good as polished aluminum. So therein lies the question: Can I put a decent coating of aluminum- or silver- onto stainless?

    My process would involve painting the back side of the spoon with a color, probably black. This means I'll have to buff up the other side before plating, since there would be the inevitable over spray. In turn this means that even if I used new spoons, I'd be buffing off the new finish, probably taking off the new glossy look. I might as well use old spoons. I can get a ton of those for cheap, so why not if they would work just as well.

    Each of these would become a tiny low voltage module, an adjustable clip-on in some way.
    The improved reflectivity would overcome some of the loss that a colored filter would incur.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  • #2
    Have you tried polishing the stainless to a mirror finish or is it the blue grayness of stainless that's not giving you the look you desire ?

    Spoons are pretty shallow and if aluminum gives you the reflected light quality you're looking for why not press form the aluminum ?
    I've done shallow domes with an oak form and a HF 12ton press, aluminum should be easy if you use the softer alloys It would
    be my first choice rather than doing wet plating.

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    • #3
      I dont know if you can plate steel with aluminium, at least in a home shop, but i do know that you can plate steel with nickel. Might get you the effect you want, plus its a pretty cheap experiment to try

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      • #4
        Look on line or go to an estate sale and look for silver plated spoons!

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        • #5
          Get the chrome plastic ones?

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          • #6
            Plating aluminum is difficult. Also, plating almost anything on stainless is not easy. Not saying it can't or hasn't been done, but i've never had much success with either one.

            Most stainless wil take a high polish. The silver plated spoons is an idea, too.

            Ed
            For just a little more, you can do it yourself!

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            • #7
              You can get information at Caswell Plating, they supply many hobbyists
              You can do nickel on Aluminum, but it takes a special base costing and smut control


              https://caswellplating.com/electropl...-products.html

              Rich
              Green Bay, WI

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              • #8
                Maybe try using aluminum leaf (thin aluminum foil), which is only a little less reflective than silver, and a lot cheaper.

                https://angelgilding.com/aluminum-leaf.html

                Here are some other ideas:

                https://www.amazon.com/Buff-Bundle-S.../dp/B01N35SMT2

                https://www.amazon.com/Lepilion-Refl.../dp/B083775346 (98% reflective film)
                http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                USA Maryland 21030

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                • #9
                  In all this remember that silver tarnishes. Telescope mirrors are usually plated with aluminum because it lasts longer.

                  I don't know if it would work on stainless, but you could look into how the telescope crowd plates their mirrors with aluminum.

                  But frankly, I would try polishing the stainless first. That sounds a lot easier and it also should last longer than silver and perhaps longer than the aluminum as well.

                  Use masking tape when you are spraying the rear.
                  Paul A.
                  SE Texas

                  And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                  You will find that it has discrete steps.

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                  • #10
                    I'd just make an aluminum spoon and do the final polish with India Ink.

                    You could fire up your 3d printer to make a pla mold, then cast the spoon.

                    Glue aluminum foil on the spoon if you don't have a 3d printer.
                    Last edited by elf; 07-20-2021, 03:31 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
                      In all this remember that silver tarnishes. Telescope mirrors are usually plated with aluminum because it lasts longer.

                      I don't know if it would work on stainless, but you could look into how the telescope crowd plates their mirrors with aluminum.
                      The mirrors are put into a high vacuum chamber and a chunk of aluminum is vaporized to evenly coat everything in the vacuum chamber. The coatings are normally overcoated with something like silicone dioxide to protect the aluminum. This is a specialized service and only a handful of coaters out there seem to be able to get it consistently correct. I had a mirror a dozen years ago that was coated by Flabeg in PA and it failed to the point I could wipe the coating off with my finger after a year or so. One of my hobbies is telescope making, hence my username "Polaraligned". Most of my machining is telescope related.

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                      • #12
                        From what I know about plating, if the surface is not already as reflective as needed, plating won't change that.

                        You'll need to polish the stainless to a mirror finish before plating, at which point it might work well without any plating.

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                        • #13
                          when you see a shiny piece of plastic that looks like it was chromed, its an aluminum coating applied via vacuum deposition. I've seen it and done and its not beyond a home shop project. Basically parts get hung in a vacuum chamber, vacuum is cranked up and the electricity is put through a piece of AL in the chamber - enough to vaporize it. It ends up all over the part and is as reflective as it can get (AL is next to silver in reflectiveness)

                          A cheap and simple option is chrome paint from a hobby store. Its not bad, and would be much easier than making a vacuum deposition chamber (but the think of the fun you could have with the VDC!)

                          Darryl, I think you take the gold cup for # of interesting and out there projects we've never seen. Could you please attempt making a digital camera next so can see some pictures of them? ‚Äč
                          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                          • #14
                            A spoon, like a serving spoon or a ladle? Can't believe either would be optically "correct" even for your home-brew application.

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                            • #15
                              Stainless does polish up nice, but at it's best it's not as reflective as aluminum. Still pretty good though. I can position an led to give a fairly concentrated beam- it's not round, nor is it free from distortions, but it is free from chromatic aberrations. It's just another lighting effect that I can use. I've gone through the lens method, making dozens of lenses from casting plastic- parabolic since I used the spin casting technique- and they work but do absorb more of the light energy than using the reflector method. I think I'll skip the plating thing- maybe one day I'll stamp out some aluminum ones. There's some options I can use, such as hydraulic forming. That will be fun to play with. I'd still use the press to hold the form together, and I could probably use polished aluminum to start with, leaving the protective covering on it for the forming process.
                              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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