Electroforming is a process by which a metal object is created by the deposition of metal onto a mould through an electrochemical process.
The mould is made from either a non-electrically conductive material e.g. wax, plastic or silicone or a conductive material e.g. metal or graphite. Before being used, it is coated with a seed layer of a conductive material, commonly silver or nickel, it must be clean to avoid any contamination affecting the surface finish. The electroforming takes place in a specialised bath containing metal ions and electrolytes, where a coating is deposited when a current is passed through. The thickness of the layer is dependent on the time the mould is left in the bath.
It is a versatile and precise process that can be used to create a wide variety of objects, from jewellery to optical parts, and aerospace components to medical devices. Electroforming research is focused on improving the efficiency and quality of the process, as well as developing new applications for electroformed objects.
Electroforming is still a highly relevant and important research tool in the UK and around the world. It is used to create a wide range of products for use in a variety of industries, including medical, aerospace, microelectronics, and nanotechnology.
The specialist Materials Teams at PI-KEM and PI-KEM Hart partner with customers from both academic and commercial research, ensuring they have the specialist powders and consumables to allow their projects are able to progress.