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topic 29492

Gold plating on ABS plastic

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2019


RFQ: I have some plastic parts for my street rod that need to be gold plated. Only part of some of these parts are to be gold plated. The rest is to be left black plastic. I had a person in CA do some but he is not available anymore. (Items such as trim around power window switch, the levers on the switch itself.)

Thank you,

Edward P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA


Q. This is a question from my polymer course at university. What and how are the process of gold plate on ABS plastic? Could you please help me? Thank you a lot!

Maria Lins
student - São Paulo, Brazil

affil. link
"Standards and Guidelines for Electroplated Plastics"
by American Society for Electroplated Plastics
from Abe Books
info on Amazon
see our Review


A. Hi, Maria.

If you look at a chrome plated grill or bezel on an automobile, you will see that it is chrome plated plastic, and probably ABS. Gold plating of ABS would be the same process except the final layer would be gold plating instead of chrome plating.

The earlier steps would include etching (ABS is a two-component plastic, and one of them dissolves in strong chromic-sulfuric acid, putting a good "tooth" on the surface), seeding with a palladium colloid, electroless nickel plating the palladium, and then electrolytic nickel plating. For automotive quality there are usually a few more steps, including copper plating between the electroless nickel and the nickel plating.

There is plenty of info about plating of plastic available on this site and the rest of the web, and authoritative information can be found in plating texts and the journals serving the plating industry. Best of luck.

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


thumbs up signDear Mr. Ted Mooney, thank you for helping me with my question.

Best regards,

Maria Lins
- São Paulo, Brazil


RFQ: I need to have a cast acrylic part (a prototype of a cap for a jar, 3 5/8 dia. 9/16 high) electroplated gold. Any help regarding the process and where I could have it done would be appreciated.


Doug L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- NYC, New York

July 22, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I'm working in an electroplating company.please;

I want to know how I can plate plastics by gold or silver.

marwa nour eldin
electroplating lab assistant - Egypt , Cairo

July 22, 2008

A. Hi, Marwa. Please ask around among your peers to try to find a copy of "Standards and Guidelines for Electroplated Plastic". This is the best single source for that info. Good luck.


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

February 12, 2019

Q. I have a question. I am restoring my 85 Honda Gold Wing. I need all my emblem's redone. They are painted satin black background and the actual emblem is gold on all raised letters and surfaces. How and what all do I need to do this operation at home? Thank you so much. Jeff

Jeff Busche
- Warren, Pennsylvania USA

February 2019

A. Hi Jeff. One downside of today's advanced technology is that when we can very nearly make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, it's hard to know what we actually have. That gold color could be titanium nitride applied from a PVD chamber; it could be actual gold electroplating; it could be vacuum metallizing with aluminum followed by a gold toned translucent lacquer; it could be chrome-look paint followed by gold toned lacquer.

If you cannot find out from enthusiast magazines and blogs what it actually is, you'll have to guess. If the gold finish is conductive when measured with a V-O-M multimeter, my guess is that it is real gold electroplating, and that the thing to do is to clean the existing gold plating and try to add another layer with a brush plating kit. If the black paint is in good condition it can probably act as a maskant so only the existing gold plated area will get additional plating.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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