Plastic Surface Treatments

For products and parts by means of copper plating, nickel plating, chrome plating and gilding

Plastic Surface Treatments

You can contact Multinal Group for surface treatments in the field of plastic. The processing of plastic is also called metallizing plastic. Multinal Group has been specialized in metalizing plastic products for years, such as ABS plastic and ABS blends.

The metallization of plastic is carried out by galvanically applying metal layers. This relatively young technology is also known as plating on plastic (POP). Only from about 1960 it is possible to form an adhesive, galvanic coating on plastic with thin deposits. If you would like to know more about the process, you will find various information tabs below.

The purpose of plastic metallization or a plastic surface treatment is to increase the decorative and functional properties of the product. This concerns a wide variety of products, such as industrial products where the galvanic layer has a technical application such as reflection, shielding or conductivity, but also, for example, household items and sanitary components.

Why choose a plastic surface treatment or plastic metallization at Multinal Group?

  • Professional advice, especially in the design phase (!);
  • Flexibility that contributes to the realization of your delivery time;
  • Added value through packaging facilities for your products;
  • Time savings by providing quality controls;
  • Urgent service possible in consultation.

Would you like to know more about Multinal Group, plastic metallising or which plastic surface treatment we can provide for your products?

The process

The metallization of plastic is carried out by galvanically applying metal layers. This relatively young technology is also known as plating on plastic (POP). Only from about 1960 it is possible to form an adhesive, galvanic coating on plastic with thin deposits.

The current POP technology uses the plastic ABS or blends of ABS and PC.

ABS is a so-called co-polymer of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. Butadies make up a proportion of 5 to 30%, styrene about 50% and acrylonitrile the other percentages. Butadiene is the material which, mixed with soot and sulfur, forms rubber. The other two fabrics provide a sturdy plastic. Butadiene occurs as small spheres, distributed by the ABS. Cavities are created on the surface by means of a strong oxidizing liquid by etching out butadiene. The other (hard) material is affected much more slowly. As a result, it does not dissolve, but polar groups are formed on the surface.

Applying the activator

The next step is to apply the activator; a precious metal that sticks to the polar groups. Nickel can be chemically deposited on the finely divided precious metal. This nickel deposition follows the surface of the plastic and also fills the pickled cavities. This nickel layer adheres both chemically (on the polar groups) and mechanically in the cavities (snap button connection). To obtain a decorative and firm layer, galvanic copper, gloss nickel and chrome are applied after activation by means of a nickel strike.

The thicknesses of the layers are approximately as follows:

chemical nickel: 0.1 – 0.5 µm
nickel strike: 0.5 – 2.0 µm
copper: 15 -25 µm
nickel: 8 – 15 µm
chromium: 0.1 – 0.6 µm

The thickness of the galvanic metal layers have a technical minimum and an economic maximum. That is to say, if the layers are applied thinner, quality problems arise. Thicker layers usually have a limited technical advantage and make the end product unnecessarily (too) expensive. Problems at POP often arise from the choice of the wrong ABS or ABS-PC blend.

The size or distribution of the butadiene spheres is not optimal. In addition, the processing methods of the plastic can lead to problems: stress in the material, deformation of the butadiene spheres, etc.

Important points for attention when coppering, nickel plating, chrome plating and gilding of ABS / ABS blends plastic

  • Cavities present in the objects must be rinsable or liquid-tight, so that bath liquid flows well and has no chance of being left behind;
  • Flush holes should be on two sides and at the ends of the material. This reduces the chance of bath fluid remaining behind;
  • Does a product require special attention because it is fragile, costly or has special assembly requirements after metallizing plastic? Please notify us in advance;
  • The quality of the basic material supplied by you plays an important role in the final end result. In case of doubt, we will contact you, so that your and our quality is guaranteed. Multinal assumes 100% correct, blank supplied material. This means that any injection molding errors have already been removed by you before delivery;

Carrying out machining activities after metalizing plastic can have major (negative) consequences for your product. The galvanically applied metal layer on the plastic product can be damaged to a great extent. We therefore recommend that you always carry out any machining operations prior to surface treatment.

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