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topic 1648

PVC, can it be chrome plated?


I would like to "chrome plate" a PVC model and would like to know if this is possible (PVC has a low heat tolerance) or what I can do that will achieve the same or similar results.

How is styrene plastic chromed (in car models, etc.) can I use this technique for PVC?

Robert F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


Plastic can most definitely be chrome plated. Virtually all of the chrome grills, and headlight bezels you see on automobiles are chrome plated plastic, mostly ABS, sometimes polypropylene. Other plastics are chrome plated for power tools, office equipment, etc.

However, the shiny stuff you see on inexpensive plastic items like cosmetic caps, toy cars, etc. is usually vacuum metallized aluminum with a lacquer topcoat.

Unfortunately, you can do neither chrome plating nor vacuum metallizing at home. Nor would most plating shops be very interested in trying to chrome plate one or a few PVC parts. You might consult our directory listing of jobshops, or talk to a prototype specialist like Associated Electroplaters [Hazel Park, MI]

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Ed. note (Oct '05): Progress in "chrome-look" paint has been very rapid in the last few years, and your application requirements might be met with that kind of product. See the listings for our supporting advertiser Gold Touch.


I'm interested in setting up a plastic chrome plating shop.Where would I find information on the different processes,equipment, chemicals, EPA requirements, etc.

Peter P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Quality Cars - Grants Pass Oregon

Ed. note: The single most appropriate book, and also very inexpensive, is probably the Metal Finishing Guidebook. A number of other very good plating books are shown on our "must-have" booklist.

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