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Name: Juven H.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A 
Country: N/A
Date: 11/15/2004

Why will electroplating not work with plastic? How can plastic be plated?


The reason that plastic parts can not be easily electroplated is because plastic is a nonconductor of electricity. Plastics can be metallized though, through numerous plating processes. I will just outline some of these process that are used in metallizing plastic parts for the automotive industry. For starters, the parts must be perfectly clean from any oil, grease or any plastic injection mold compounds. If the parts are not cleaned properly, the metal will peel off over time from the plated plastic part. Then you process the plastic part in a very aggressive chromic/sulfuric acid bath to etch the plastic surface (make small pits on the surface). Then you place the plastic part in a palladium chloride bath to place metal particles in the previous pits made on the plastic surface. After this palladium metal deposition, one can electroplate the part with copper metal and then chrome plate or many other various metals such as nickel or gold. I know that this is a very shortened process list, but for your use, it should suffice. I hope that this helps!


Bob Trach

By definition, electroplating requires that an electric current flow between the part being plated and the chemical solution. If the part is non-conductive then an electric current cannot flow.

How can one plate nonconductive materials like plastic? The answer is "electroless" plating. These chemical baths deposit metal coatings but do not' need electricity. After an electroless coating is produced, a normal electroplating bath can be used to make the coating even thicker.

Bob Erck

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