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Finishes for plastic

(-----) 2006

I am an artist/designer in Los Angeles. I have read your FAQs, and am still looking for more information. Specifically, I am trying to find someone who can point me to more sources of information on applying durable finishes to plastic parts on a one-off basis. Outside of paints and some experiments with electroplating, I have very little knowledge of how some of the really nice finishes (like say on cellular phones or auto parts) are created, and how I could get those finishes done myself. I have had bad luck finding any companies interested in anything under 100 units, and have been completely unsuccessful in trying to find more information on this subject. Any help would be greatly appreciated, even if it is just to direct me to a different site.

Lee Lloyd
Neotenic Designs - Los Angeles, California, USA


"Standards and Guidelines for Electroplated Plastic" will tell you exactly what you want to know, Lee. The basic problem, though, is that your desire for a "one-off" process is somewhat incompatible with the complexity and sophistication of plating on plastic. It's rather like saying you want fenders for a car so you'd like the one-off process for stamping them.

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


I appreciate your response, and will give this book a read. Nothing about designing custom goods is easy, or cheap. However, already having gotten past the hurdles of designing, prototyping, molding, and casting plastic parts on a one-off (or very near one-off) basis, I find it hard to believe that there is no way to properly finish the parts short of making 1000 of them.

Hopefully this book will give me some insights into where to look next.

Lee Lloyd
- Los Angeles, California, USA


You are following a logical path and I wish you well with it, Lee. When you see the numerous steps involved in OEM-Quality plating on plastic you will understand my point of view.

Just as you can build a ship in a bottle with various sets of tweezers, countless hours and infinite patience, you can certainly likewise plate one or two pieces of plastic. But chrome-look paints are much more doable than true chrome plating on plastic.

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



On a one off el-cheapo basis, have you tried the 2 component Urethanes ... not the store bought Urethanes,

Back in Ye Olden Days in l966 Monsanto came out with, I think, the first 2 component Urethane paints. Cost then of $ 25.oo a gallon.

Being in plastics they kindly gave me a gallon and I painted the bathroom door ... what a super, excellent, professional ultra smooth finish .. and this in the hands of tyro. But DON'T try this yourself. Why? Because the door warped and wouldn't close due to the shrinkage of that resin (I had to paint the outside to re-warp it !)

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


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