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topic 20705

Electroplating plastic model parts


A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2018

2003

Q. Where can I purchase an inexpensive conductive paint that I can use on plastic model parts which can then be electroplated. I am interested in chrome plating process for plastic parts as a home hobby situation.

GARY B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- BROOKSVILLE, FLORIDA USA


2003

A. You can purchase this from Acheson Colloids, among others. But actual chrome plating as a home hobby may not be a idea because chrome is highly toxic. Further, model parts aren't generally chrome plated anyway, because they need not endure years of brutal winter salt spatter, gravel spray, and desert sun like real plastic auto parts; rather, they are vacuum metallized (the same process as those shiny mylar balloons).

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


2003

Q. I too would like more info on electroplating plastic. I have a good shop to work in. I would like to cast fake armor for horse and rider from casting plastic then give it a nickel or steel look. I just don't think any paint would look good enough or hold up to any wear. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Marc P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Meridian, Idaho, USA


2003

A. The book, Standards for Electroplated Plastic, will tell you everything you would want to know about how to chrome plate plastic, Marc. But it is a very expensive process, and it uses toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that are completely out of place in a home. You might find our FAQ about chrome plating interesting. "chrome-look paint" available from G.J. Nikolas [a finishing.com supporting advertiser] or others is perhaps a better idea.

And certainly there are plating shops who would be happy to do the chrome plating for you.

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


2007

Q. Dear sir ,
We are interested in the method of electroplating of chrome for plastic. Can you help us for this.

Thanks

R K Aggarwal
- new Delhi, India


2007

A. We have pointed you to a free intro to chrome plating, R K, and suggested a book about chrome plating on plastic that goes into sufficient detail to answer many of your potential questions. Can you clarify your situation -- are you looking for a plating-on-plastics consultant to make a training offer, or are you a hobbyist seeking more tips on plating of plastic models, or what? Thanks.

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


November 23, 2011

Q. I want to know about the methods of coating plastics with copper, any method, thanks.

Amir Fathi
- Tehran


November 23, 2011

A. Hi, Amir.

Please review our FAQ "How do you electroplate flowers, leaves, animal skulls, and other organic materials?", and then feel free to follow up with detailed questions. Thanks, and good luck.

Regards,

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



August 23, 2018

Q. I have been able to plate my plastic parts by sandblasting it prior to plating, unfortunately the finish is not as smooth as I'd like it to be. I wanted to find out if there are other additional steps that I could add to obtain a smoother finish. I am wondering if chemical etching would be the way to go?

Edna Rajan
- Louisiana, USA


August 2018

A. Hi Edna. We're still talking about hobbyist plating of models, or are you talking about saleable components of some sort? There is a world of difference between what a production shop which is plating ABS grills for real automobiles must do (letter 31550) vs. what a hobbyist plating models can and should do. The production shop might dip the parts in concentrated chromic-sulfuric acid for etching, or put them into a gaseous etch machine, but this can't be done at home. Please tell us your situation. Thanks!

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"



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