September 26th, 2017
Bright Metallization and Plating of Plastic Products
Bright metallization is a process used for creating an array of products for different industries and applications from zinc, copper, or some other metal. With this process, parts and components look shiny and new. For this reason, it is often the preferred method for creating products used in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as on automobiles and as part of electrical devices. While the parts or components are actually plastic, they appear to be bright metal.
Due to environmental risk, in particular with chromium commonly used in galvanic coatings, new technologies have been developed to create metallized plastic parts that are both environmentally safe and health-friendly. These technologies are also more cost-effective, conserve resources, and offer sanitary benefits.
With bright metallization, the result is a matte or high-gloss metallic appearance that looks great and functions optimally. In fact, various color options are available. One of the most advanced methods of bright metallization involves three layers, with the metal layer located in between two layers of lacquer. With injection molding, the lowest layer is smooth and even while the upper layer is strong and protective against environmental elements.
The plating of plastic products is a functional or decorative application of metal that goes onto plastic substrates using a method known as electroplating. Prior to electroplating, plastics must be metalized, which means the surface is etched so that a tough bond is created. From there, the now roughened surface is coated with small traces of a precious metal; “seeds” are deposited onto an extremely thin layer of copper or nickel through electroless deposition.
For etching, a strong acidic solution reduces the tension on the newly applied surface. However, before placing the precious metal on the surface, the acid is neutralized. Usually, the electroless stage involves nickel, although when larger components are plated, copper is typically used because of its higher conductivity.
Chromium and nickel are the two most applied metals using a process known as plastic chrome plating or chrome plating. Not only is this coating aesthetically pleasing, it provides technical benefits. This plating process can also be used for several application criteria, including exterior automotive components that are resistant to corrosion and highly visible. A key benefit is that plastic chrome plating is not heavy like traditional metal components.
Chrome plating is the perfect solution in situations where fittings need to be wear resistant, durable, and sanitary. Therefore, they are often used in bathrooms because of humidity. Even certain electronic devices benefit from chrome-plated plastics, such as EMI-RFI shielding of sensitive electronic components.
Global Technical Ventures is an industry leader in the development and manufacturing of plastic and metal products. Please visit our website to learn about all of our services or call us to speak with a team expert.