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Plating on Plastic

What is Plating on Plastics?


Plastic chrome plating“Plating on plastics” is a term used to describe the decorative or functional application of metal onto plastic substrates using the process of electroplating. Before plastics can be electroplated they first need to be metalized. This is achieved by etching the surface (to provide a tough bond) and coating the roughened surface with traces of a precious metal. This precious metal provides the 'seeds' for deposited of a thin layer of nickel or copper by electroless deposition.

Etching is achieved in a strongly acidic solution to which special wetter's to reduce surface tension are added. The acid is neutralized, before the precious metal is laid onto the surface. Typically nickel is used at the electroless stage. However when large components are plated, copper is recommended due to its higher conductivity.Plastic chrome plating

 
Nickel and chromium metals are the most commonly applied, normally called 'chrome plating' or 'plastic chrome plating'. This coating provides both technical and aesthetic benefits and can be applied to meet many different application criteria. For example, highly visible and corrosion resistant exterior automotive components are often chrome plated plastics, providing a lower weight option compared to traditional metal components. Plastic chrome plating is also ideal for sanitary fittings that require a durable and wear resistant coating to resist the humid bathroom environment. Electronic devices often benefit from EMI-RFI shielding of sensitive electronic components for which plating on plastics is an ideal solution.
 
 
 
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macuplex - conventional chromic acid etching cycle

 

Process Stage                           ProductDescription
Chromic Acid Etching MacuPlex E110 MacuPlex E-110 is an additive specifically designed to allow lower concentrations of chromic acid etches for plating on plastics applications. It is designed to be used on plastic types including ABS, ABS/PC T45 and polypropylene.
Conditioner (optional) MacuPlex T-675 Conditions substrates that are difficult to activate in the plating on plastics process by enhancing a more uniform adsorption in the activation stage. The MacuPlex T-675 may be used either as a separate process, or added directly to the neutraliser solution to reduce the number of process stations required. Substrates that may benefit include PC/ABS, Polycarbonate, Noryl® and Polypropylene.
Chromium neutralizer MacuPlex ECR MacuPlex ECR promotes a more efficient and ecological method of reducing hexavalent chromium in the MacuPlex plating on plastic system. MacuPlex ECR provides an alternative to many of the hazardous types of products typically used in this application.
Activator Mactivate 360 An ultra-low concentration, precious metal liquid catalyst designed to lay down a Palladium layer on the suitably etched non-conductive surface. The low concentration substantially reduces drag-out costs. Mactivate 360 can be used for all automotive, decorative and shielding plating on plastic applications.
Accelerator  Maccelerator 25 Maccelerator 25 provides excellent life and a wide operating window for the Accelerator stage in the plating on plastics sequence. Maccelerator 25 can be used in most cycles which utilize either MacuPlex Electroless Nickel or Electroless Copper.
Electroless Nickel MacuPlex J-64 Room temperature electroless nickel strike bath. MacuPlex J-64 is normally used for plating on plastics, however, it can be used to plate thin deposits on various metals such as aluminum, steel, copper and its alloys.
Electroless Nickel MacuPlex M550 Ammonia, lead and cadmium-free electroless nickel designed to deposit the initial metal layer in the metallization of plating on plastics. MacuPlex M-550 process is simple to operate and is designed to be used in either plastic or stainless steel equipment.
Surface Conditioner MacuPlex P MacuPlex P improves the conductivity of electroless nickel deposits in the plating on plastic cycle prior to acid copper plating. MacuPlex P enhances both the contact between the rack tips and the electroless nickel deposit and resists 'burn off' in the first few moments of acid copper plating.

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infinity - short chromic acid etching cycle

 

Process Stage                           ProductDescription
Chromic Acid Etching MacuPlex L500 MacuPlex L500 gives greater tolerance to trivalent chromium levels whilst maintaining the correct surface tension in the etch solution. It promotes a uniform etched surface on plastics which provides good adhesion and appearance to the finished product.
Activator Infinity Activator Macuplex Infinity solution is needed to react and chemically prepare the plastic component, thus creating the catalytic site needed to seed the electroless plating bath in the short cycle plating on plastics process.
Accelerator Infinity Accelerator Provides excellent life and a wide operating window for the Accelerator stage in the short cycle plating on plastics sequence.
Electroless Nickel MacuPex J-64 Room temperature electroless nickel strike bath. MacuPlex J-64 is normally used for plating on plastics, however, it can be used to plate thin deposits on various metals such as aluminum, steel, copper and its alloys.
Electroless Nickel MacuPlex M550 Ammonia, lead and cadmium-free electroless nickel designed to deposit the initial metal layer in the metallization of plating on plastics. MacuPlex M-550 process is simple to operate and is designed to be used in either plastic or stainless steel equipment.
Nickel Strike Watts Nickel A nickel strike is recommended prior to the acid copper plating stage in the short cycle plating on plastics sequence. This helps prevent 'burn off' of the electroless nickel coating in the initial stages of copper deposition.

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