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Plating on plastics

(-----) February 5, 2008

Hi Guys,

I am Shreepathy Chandran form India working as a design engineer. I am in the process of designing a plastic enclosure (4"x2"x1") for a gadget to be used underwater. The client has asked for a brushed gold finish on the component. My doubt is

1.Could brushed gold finish be obtained on plastic enclosure regardless of the grade/type of plastic used?

2. What would be the suitable technology to achieve the desired need?

3. How to evaluate plating process? any time-line for evaluating this as similar to evaluating plating over metals (specs according to ASTM B117?).

4. What would be the optimal film thickness for this application if the equipment would be subjected to 4 hours of continuous immersion in sea water and this would be repeated for 10000 cycles.

Expecting your suggestions in this regard.

Shreepathy Chandran
Product Designer - Coimbatore, India

February 5, 2008

Electroplated plastic is a premium finish, not done easily or cheaply, Shreepathy. Are you sure that's what you want? If so,
1. Gold tone would be obtained by real gold plating on top of nickel plating, and the enclosure should be "plating grade" ABS.
2. Electroplating of plastic is widely done (nearly all the brightwork on nearly all automobiles), but involves a long series of steps from etching to activating to electroless nickel plating to duplex nickel plating.
3. There are many tests. "Standards and Guidelines for Electroplated Plastics" covers them.
4. The same source will give you the recommended thicknesses of the many different layers.

Good luck.

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

February 9, 2008


Thank you for the reply, I appreciate it,

Regarding the finish on plastic is concerned 'my client requires a gold finish on the enclosure'.

I have another doubt, we see a lot of 'brushed aluminum' finish on plastics found in our cars dashboard. is that painted finish or similar to electroplating process.

Shreepathy Chandran
- Coimbatore, India

February 19, 2008

The "Brushed Aluminum" finish you questioned on car dashboards can be either painted or electroplated, in order to achieve that type of finish. They each lend a slightly different appearance though.


Mark Pond
- Grand Rapids, Michigan

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