There are two main varieties of copper plating from A Class Metal Finishers – acid copper and cyanide copper plating. Acid copper is a safer coating for health and environment, however cyanide copper performs better in applications involving aluminium substrates. Acid copper is the most common type used for copper plating.
When plating aluminium alloys, some prefer to nickel plate straight onto the surface to avoid the use of cyanide copper, and this is possible, however this can sometimes be difficult to control and achieve good quality results.
Copper is usually used as an “undercoat” in most common plating processes (e.g. “triple chrome” is copper, nickel then chrome plated).
The colour of newly plated copper (salmon pink) makes it appealing as a metal colour alternative, however it tarnishes quite easily. A coating or two of lacquer straight after plating can help preserve the colour but it’s best not to expose it to weather extremes or the lacquer will break down and cause the copper to tarnish.
To achieve an aged bronze look, it is possible to blacken the copper after plating then buff away the black at the high points, leaving an “antique” effect. Copper plating can assist to rebuild poor or damaged surfaces by plating additional thickness onto parts.