Did you know that Bend Plating can cover pre-electroplated plastic in real 24K Gold. Bend Plating has over 30 years of 24K Gold Plating experience. Another option for covering pre-plated plastics in a durable lifelong metallic gold coating is by using low temperature vapor deposition methods like PVD/LTAVD – Physical Vapor Deposition/Low Temperature Arc Vapor Deposition. PVD/LTAVD provides a spectrum of match-able gold shades (rose, brass, bronze, etc.) as well as black, silver, or rainbow. PVD/LTAVD can give your product’s surfaces the appearance of real gold, with increased durability and decreased weight and cost. The automotive industry makes up 90% of all industrial plating on plastics. The plumbing industry makes up 5 to 10% of plating on plastics applications.
Here’s What You Need to Know About Gold Coating on Plastic
Gold is becoming an increasingly popular metal to plate onto plastics. Especially for decorative fixtures such as household appliances, bathroom fixtures, mirror trims, license plate frames, boat trims, and even electronics. Personal care items also use gold coating on plastic for a number of applications including perfume bottles, decorative buttons, and glasses frames. Here’s how the process works.
What Plastics Can Be Plated?
Electroplate-able Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (or ABS) plastic is the base material used for approximately 90% of plating applications, though there are certainly other plastics being used. For instance, the automotive industry uses ABS/polycarbonate blends while engineering applications that require thermal stability use polypropylenes, nylons, and polyimides (among others).
How Does Plating on Plastic Work?
Bend Plating currently only electroplates on Steel, Zinc, Brass, and Copper. However, we work with several fantastic companies that electroplate plastic. Here is how they do it.
Electroplate-able ABS is the ideal plastic for plating. It is inexpensive, has a low melting temperature, and is very easy to machine. In addition, it is extremely resistant to corrosive chemicals and physical impact. In order to plate onto ABS plastic, it must first be thoroughly cleaned using an alkaline cleanser. This ensures the plastic is free of residue or debris that could prevent the metal from adhering to the surface.
After the dipping the plastic into a solvent (to strengthen any high-stress areas), sulfuric acid or chromium trioxide solution is used to etch the surface. This creates small holes that allow the metals to adhere to the plastic more readily. Sometimes engineers add a conditioner to enhance absorption if necessary, otherwise they apply a neutralizer to remove all etching solutions. From there, engineers initiate the activation process.
Activation involves introducing liquid gold, platinum, or palladium to the surface being coated. Nickel or copper then can be deposited onto the surface using an electroless plating solution. This base material forms a thin metal coating on the plastic that makes the surface conductive and provides a metallic layer for the next electroplating material (Gold, Nickel, Copper, etc.) to deposit on using standard electroplating processes. From there, standard 24K Gold metal plating procedures or PVD/LTAVD can be used for the final step in the coating process.
Where to go from here?
Bend Plating can finish your pre-plated plastic in Nickel, Chrome, Copper, or Gold electroplate. If you would like to add color to your part or require a surface more durable than real gold or copper, PVD/LTAVD coating would be the next and final step. Not only do your inexpensive plastic products now look more expensive, but they are also corrosion resistant, rust resistant, and have the look and feel of gold.
Bend Plating provides metal plating, polishing, and PVD/LTAVD services for a variety of industries. Contact us for more information on your gold coating needs. We would love to help you use gold coating on plastic for your manufacturing initiative.