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"Thermal cycle for plated ABS"

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March 15, 2021

Q. Does thickness of Nickel and Copper have any influence on passing/failure of Thermal cycle test on Plastic Plated Parts? If yes, how?

Shivakumar Tegginavar
- Mumbai, Maharashtra

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Q. Dear Sir/ madam,

We are doing the Ni-Cr. plating on plastic automobile parts and we presently facing the problem of failure for "cracking" in performance test like Thermal cycle test. Normally specs are different for Th. cycle test but max duration is 10 hrs at 80 °C. Earlier we were not facing this problem . Normally, the thickness given are:
Copper -- 16-25 microns,
Total Ni-- 9-20 microns,
Chrome -- 0.2-0.4 microns.
For Ni, it is SBNI, BR.NI, and microporous Ni) Also, this problem is not observed on 100% parts on the same rack plated under similar conditions. Why is it so? What could be the basic problem that it is failing for Thermal cycle test?

Can somebody help me URGENTLY.


Prashant M.
Ni-Cr. plater for plastic automobile parts - Pune, Maharashtra, India


A. I can think of three possible reasons for cracking.
1. Residual stresses in the plastic. Suggest better molding process and a stress relief treatment.
2. High tensile stress in one or all the nickel deposits. Treat the nickel solutions, especially the last two before chrome plating.
3. chromium plating is too thick. Reduce the time in the chrome plating solution to produce 10-15 millionths inch. At 20 millionths (1/2 micron) inch chromium starts to crack, and will crack the thin nickel layer below it.

don baudrand
Don Baudrand
Consultant - Poulsbo, Washington
(Don is co-author of "Plating on Plastics" [affil link to the book on: Amazon or AbeBooks ])


A. Dear Sir,

From the first while we can say it is ETCHING so you should examine the Cr+3 in your etching bath if it over the level you should replaced it .

But you should take other considerations with you like activation: if you work with palladium - tin activator you should know that low palladium gave low EN adhesion and high E copper adhesion acceleration: you have to remove all tin from deposit palladium- tin activator or you will faced bad adhesion.

Passivation: cracking my be it due to some passivation between EN-cu-Ni layers

Finally you should examine the agitation cycle in you etching bath so to be sure that heat distribute equally and the concentration of chromic acid on it .


Raafat Albendary
- Cairo, Egypt

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)


Q. I am presently doing research on ABS Plating.
1)What is THERMAL CYCLE in ABS Plating (I want standards)?
2)Is there any relation of chrome thickness with thermal cycle failure?
3)Is there any relation Of Acid Copper brighteners and levelers with failure of Thermal cycle?
4)If ABS components cracked after thermal cycle. How we can check whether the problem is in our plating or pre-treatment?
5)Same question about Peel off after thermal cycle?
6)Is there any relation Between CASS and THERMAL CYCLE in ABS Plating?

Vipul Duse
chemicals - India


A. Hello Vipul. Please start with "Standards and Guidelines for Electroplated Plastics"; that will provide both the background and the specifics you seek. The failure could be caused by improper brightener in the copper plating, but also in the nickel plating. Or the part could simply be designed wrong; it's hard to say out of context. CASS (copper accelerated salt spray) is a corrosion test rather than a thermal test.

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


Q. Thanks for answering my question. But this is not satisfying my questions. I want detail information and solution.

Vipul Duse [returning]
- Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India


thumbs up sign Sorry, Vipul, I answered as best I am able (and commensurate with an internet posting), Vipul. For highly detailed answers to 6 different subjects, you probably will need to consult books that have been written for the purpose of providing that kind of detailed information on a broad swath of sub-technologies in that field. Apologies. Good luck.

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


Q. Respected Sir,
Please don't misunderstand from my conversation. I enquired (of leading book sellers and publications) in Mumbai and places in India and the book is not available. So I mail you and request book. Can you give books details and Author, list of book suppliers in India so I am able to get.

Vipul Duse [returning]
- Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India


A. Hello again, Vipul. We have now created a page on this site that tells you everything about that book. Just click on the underlined title of the book and you'll see it all. It is not a big deal to ship a book to India, so I hope you can get it from one of the vendors we have listed, but I can't speak for them. However, this book is getting very hard to find!

There are other presumably good books about plating on plastic, which I haven't personally seen like:
"Plating on Plastics" by Muller & Baudrand, ISBN 0852180381
"The Practice of Plating on Plastic" by Ralph William Furness, ISBN 0852180233
Perhaps one of your university libraries or peers in the Indian Association of Metal Finishing has a copy of one of them? Good luck.

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

P.S. March 2021: A Masters thesis by Ajaykumar Narayampalliyalil Ravikumar, "CHROME PLATING ON ABS PLASTICS" might be a useful introduction to some of this for some readers.

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