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Gold Plating MP4/6


Calibre117
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In honor of the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's third and final Formula One World Championship, I am considering building a replica MP4/6, bedecked in 24-karat gold plating. Is this at all feasible? I am planning on using Fujimi's 1/20 scale MP4/6 as the base for the model, and electroplating 24-karat gold onto the plastic. Will the plastic surface suffice and be able to accept the electroplated gold? Furthermore, I would have to etch the various livery and sponsorship logos into the surface of the gold. How could I go about that? And lastly, if I were to purchase enough 24-karat gold to plate a model the size of a 1/20 MP4/6, how much would it cost? 

 

Thanks

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  • Calibre117 changed the title to Gold Plating MP4/6
8 minutes ago, Calibre117 said:

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's third and final Formula One World Championship, I am considering building a replica MP4/6, bedecked in 24-karat gold plating. Is this at all feasible? I am planning on using Fujimi's 1/20 scale MP4/6 as the base for the model, and electroplating 24-karat gold onto the plastic. Will the plastic surface suffice and be able to accept the electroplated gold? Furthermore, I would have to etch the various livery and sponsorship logos into the surface of the gold. How could I go about that? And lastly, if I were to purchase enough 24-karat gold to plate a model the size of a 1/20 MP4/6, how much would it cost? 

 

Thanks

I think the process more applicable is vacuum plating which is done in chrome (and probably gold) type finish - not electroplating. I would abandon this idea on several grounds.

Real gold plating has cost and weight against it. I believe the small model's plastic joints would be unable to support its weight.

Etching the signage into the surface - I have no idea how you might.

If you must make a commemorative model, consider painting it with an Alclad gold or brass or any similar finish. Here is an example of vacuum plating; 1/8 scale model courtesy David Cox:

188-PY-6000-4-8.jpg

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Plastic cannot be electroplated since for the process you need a surface that conducts electricity. This can be overcome by first painting a layer of conductive paint, but that will eat up some detail.

 

I'm not sure you can electroplate gold with homebrew methods since you need carrier solution. Next problem is getting the the plating even on all surfaces. I am pretty sure leaf gilding would give far superiour results. The material isn't too expensive and applying it is possible with care and patience.

 

Weight won't be a problem with neither method. Polished surfaces will probably out of reach. Probably you'll get better answers by asking a goldsmith.

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You can only electroplate onto a substrate that's conductive.  There are chemical processes for electroless plating of copper and/or nickel onto plastic, usually for EMI screening.   That could in theory be used as a base for subsequent electroplating (decorative gold is usually extremely thin compared with say, hard gold on PCB fingers), but having some experience with these processes, I can't see it being feasible on styrene kit parts due to their fragility and limited temperature tolerance.

 

After all that, gold is pretty unreactive - one of the properties it's prized for - so etching it is a non starter.  Again, in theory, if you were able to deposit an electroless copper layer and beef that up with electroplated copper, that could be etched to show some relief and followed up with nickel and gold plating.   Only if it were a flat sheet though...  quite how you'd apply etch resist to 3D model parts, image it and develop it, I don't know. 

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7 hours ago, Calibre117 said:

Would it be feasible to first spray a layer of conducive paint upon the model, and to then electroplate over that conducive paint?

 

Not really.   You could try it, but you have to make a connection to the part to complete the circuit.  That means either leaving everything on the sprues and having no plating where they were attached, or removing them and having witness marks where you attached a crocodile clip or whatever...  Then there's the problem of plating irregular shaped parts, presumably in a small tank or beaker if you're thinking of trying it yourself  That would exacerbate the problem of varying current density across the part - where it's closer to the anode, the CD is higher and it's more likely to "burn"; where the CD is lower, you get thinner plating, or none at all if the throwing power is poor.  Also bear in mind you have to do that perfectly three times, with a base layer of copper, then bright nickel, then gold.   You also have a limited time to take it from nickel to gold, because the nickel will oxidise quickly and inhibit adhesion of the gold.  We haven't even talked about toxic and corrosive chemicals yet...

 

As Codger mentioned, vacuum plating is probably the best solution for something like this.

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Applying gold leaf - 'Gilding' - is extremely difficult and is a skill that has to be learned with a LOT of practice.

I was a signwriter many years ago and did a lot of gilding.

You apply gilding size first - could be sprayed with an airbrush.

Leave it to go 'tacky', and then lay on a sheet of leaf.

THAT is the hard part.

You absolutely cannot pick up a sheet with your fingers as it's approx 5 millionths of an inch thick.  0.5 microns, or 2000 gold atoms. Seriously.

You need a tool called a gilders tip - a kind of long thin knife.

You TOUCH it to the edge of a sheet and then flip it into place in one movement, hoping it lands flat. You can't move it once it's on and no matter how much you burnish it when dry, any wrinkles or creases will show.

I did the gilding on the Royal throne for the Sultan of Brunei many years ago.

Extremely nerve-wracking...

 

SULTAN-OF-BRUNEI-THRONE.jpg

 

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There is one other material which might be easier; Gold Rub 'n' Buff

Its a cream waxy paste available in various shades of gold as well as pewter and silver and a multitude of other colours 

You apply with a soft cloth, leave for a while then buff it up

Its an oil based product, you use turpentine for clean-up

I used to use the 'antique' gold on repairs to old fancy picture frames

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rub-Buff-Original-Antiquing-Decorating/dp/B00N1YICXY

 

Back in the 1960s and 1970s modellers used to use the silver version to get a BMF on aeroplane models

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I would use gold coloured adhesive tape, or gold coloured foil (like kitchen foil). If you have a silouette cutter, you can design and cut the logo's you want and put them on top of the tape/foil.

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