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topic 1151

How to Chrome plastic helmets?



1998

I do custom painting of Jet Skis, NASCAR Helmets and Moto-X Helmets. If you've seen DW's helmet or the cap on silver spray paint, they are "chrome". I am looking for the way to do this.

I need to be able to chrome plastic, carbon fiber, and fiber glass.

Robert B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


1998

The authentic mirror smooth 'chrome look' is done one of two ways: actual chromium electroplating, or vacuum metallizing and its variants.

Real chrome plating is used on the plastic that comprises today's auto grills, headlight bezels, tail light bezels, plumbing faucets, etc. It's a VERY involved process, which includes etching the plastic, sensitizing it, activating it, electroless plating, then copper plating, nickel plating, and chrome plating. Only some plastics (notably ABS) lend themselves well to it.

The alternative process, which is used on cosmetic caps, children's toys, and 'chromed' interior automotive plastic parts is vacuum metallizing (depositing a thin film of aluminum, followed by a clear lacquer). It is very doable, but you have to find a shop to do it; you may not want to buy metallizing equipment for 'hobby volume'.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Ed. note: Tremendous strides have been made is "chrome-look" paint in the time since the above Q&A was printed. That technology is now a viable alternative for many applications, and companies who offer it are shown in the banner at the bottom of the page.


1999

I am interested in the Chrome Dome Helmet. I you have any information on the chroming of helmets please let me know. Thank you,

Terence A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Orlando, Florida

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