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Electroplating of Copper on Tungsten Powder

Strengthening, resistant and shielding properties, to name a few, can be achieved by implementing a surface material coating onto an engineering component. Various elements of these compounded parts can augment the functionality of the part, such as, increased life time and more interactive surfaces. Tungsten has proven to be a challenge to plate with other metals, but if done correctly, the results can allow for the cold spray of tungsten. Cold spraying tungsten particles alone provides a challenge because the powder is too hard and instead of adhering, it erodes the surface it is attempting to plate. Coating tungsten in a softer metal, like copper, will allow for the particles to adhere to the surface and create a strengthened and radiation shielded component. It also yields a better surface to electroplate onto in the future, as tungsten itself is hard to plate onto, so the copper layer provides the ability to easily plate other metals. The purpose of this thesis project is to encapsulate tungsten powder within copper, then scale up the process to produce bulk amounts of the material in a batch process. The particles will be encased using an electroplating method, that has been vi turned into a semi-autonomous process for the ease of producing bulk powder. While electroless deposition has previously shown positive results for attaining a uniform coating, making it a semi-batch process for bulk material would have an extreme cost in comparison to electrolytic deposition. The tungsten particles have been successfully enclosed in copper by electrolytic deposition in this set of experimentation using an HF electro-etch pretreatment and ultrasonic agitation during electroplating. Further experimentation will include improved methods of stirring and transferring powder, as the transfer takes too long between the etch and the onset of plating and the stirring method is bulky and reduces the area that can be efficiently plated on.