How is Plastic Chrome Plated?by Erika Becklin
Traditionally, plastic is plated with chrome in an electrolytic process after being pre-treated in an electroless process. In another process, vacuum metalizing, plating is achieved when metal bonds with plastic in a vacuum chamber.
This first step of the chrome plating process coats plastic with electroless nickel by using a chemical solution to make the plastic conductive for the electrolytic process. The electroless process is completed in several steps in the following order: clean, etch, neutralize, apply a catalyst, apply an accelerator and add electroless nickel.
After the plastic has been pre-plated using the electroless process, it is placed in a solution and subjected to an electric current to add the chrome layer. This is also a lengthy process that proceeds in the following order: sulfuric acid etching, semi-bright nickel application, a sulfuric acid bath, bright acid copper application, bright nickel application and finally, ending in the application of the chrome layer.
Vacuum metalizing is a lower cost alternative for plating plastic. This method is physical rather than chemical and therefor eliminates the need to use toxic chemicals in the process. During this process, the plastic part bonds with metal when placed in a special vacuum chamber, coating the plastic.
- photo_camera chrome all over image by FotoWorx from Fotolia.com