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Equipment for home vacuum metallizing?

Q. How do or can I go about getting the equipment to vacuum metallize plastic model parts into chrome at home?

David Cole
hobbyist - Vancouver, BC, Canada
May 21, 2008

July 9, 2008

A. Plan A: assuming you are not a vacuum engineer and you are not filthy rich then follow the first rule don't listen to the skeptics. My advise is read all you can on hard vacuum.
Ring your local Univ. Physics department head and offer him a good bottle of wine if he shows you a vacuum system and introduces you to a world of its own, Hard Vacuum!

A case of wine and he probably has an old diffusion pump sitting around.

All the other parts you can find or have turned once you understand the rules and laws of Vacuum. Typically a physics department at a university has an engineer who turns all the vacuum fittings; I suggest you get to know him -- every part of high vacuum has rules:
the valves and taps, the feed troughs to get power into a chamber without letting atoms of air in the pipework, the flanges, the window to look in -- all have rules.
Old milking sheds used vacuum chambers that are cheap and work very will; they also used rotary vain vacuum roughing pumps you need one of them also.

You don't need an electron beam gun to melt the plating metal, though man are they cool. Simple tungsten elements (imagine an incandescent light globe element winding but in thicker metal and no need for the glass bulb as the entire chamber is a vacuum bulb) wrapped in the plating metal or metals if you are plating alloys work great.

If all that is too hard, plan B: all electron scanning microscopes used small vacuum systems to gold plate tissue samples so thy could be read. there are thousands of these thrown out every year. Try eBay , its all cool . I must have re-mirrored a thousand vintage car head light reflectors by the time I was sick of vacuum plating.

Good luck.

Dave Mune
mfgr of decorative concrete - Cebu, Philippines

Where/How to quickly learn Vacuum Metallizing maintenance?

Q. I just got a job as a Vacuum Technician and was wondering if you had or know where to get detailed info on how to maintain them. The Stokes manual for example will say change microvac oil every 800 hrs. But how? Also on the carriage the wheels have a bearing on each side; I can't remove them; how would I do this? The Engineer walked off the job and I'm 2 weeks in with nothing but vague manuals and my inexperience.

Anibal Gutierrez
- Phoenix, Arizona, USA
November 26, 2014

November 29, 2014

A. Contact the manufacturer.

Hi Vac work is not simple and they are anxious to avoid their kit getting a bad name through poor maintenance. Most will provide training and usually free

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

A. The American Vacuum Society has courses in various aspects of vacuum technology, including hardware. You might check with them for more general training.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio -
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego,

December 1, 2014

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