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How do they Crome plate plastic?


stakeside

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Cudaman has it. The parts go in a vacuum chamber with a piece of aluminum. The aluminum is vaporized by high voltage electricity. The vaporized aluminum is deposited on the plastic. Then they take them out and varnish them.

 

It is possible to plate plastic by coating it in copper powder to make it conductive then electroplating. We used to bronze baby shoes that way.

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Or as an alternative to vacuum deposition you can use an electroless copper process.  This is the process used to plate thru "thru holes" on double-sided printed circuit boards.  A rather elaborate 15 or so step chemical process.

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Back in 2001 I worked at a company that did vacuum metallization on plastic parts, mostly medical devices and some computer related equipment.  Parts were loaded on a tool that masked off everywhere the plating was not wanted, then loaded on a 6 sided carriage that rolled inside the vacuum chamber.  Plating started with a base layer of aluminum, then depending on customer specifications, another layer of copper, nickel, stainless could be added.  Plating material was  wire lengths bent into a J shape that were hung over tungsten heating coils.    A programmable controller turned on/off the heating coils at the right time during the plating cycle.  My boss told me those plating machines had been used during the 1960's and 70's for plating plastic car parts like door handles and dashboard trim.   It was an interesting place to work and it was pretty busy early in the year, but by late summer of 2001, customer orders had dried up and I was let go in September. 

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1 hour ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Cudaman has it. The parts go in a vacuum chamber with a piece of aluminum. The aluminum is vaporized by high voltage electricity. The vaporized aluminum is deposited on the plastic. Then they take them out and varnish them.

 

It is possible to plate plastic by coating it in copper powder to make it conductive then electroplating. We used to bronze baby shoes that way.

Rusty, I still have my bronzed baby shoes that someone had done for my parents. (they couldn't even afford me, much less fancy shoes, lol) I always wondered how it was done since my 1947 versions have lasted VERY well !

DSCN3558.JPG

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Guys, thanks for the explaination of the chromed plastics, I really didn't know how it was done, and always wished my Mustang and Falcon "chrome" parts on the doors and dash had looked better, lol. Of course my friends back then told me a lot of different versions, always ending with "you can't have them fixed"...

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2 hours ago, John Byrd said:

Guys, thanks for the explaination of the chromed plastics, I really didn't know how it was done, and always wished my Mustang and Falcon "chrome" parts on the doors and dash had looked better, lol. Of course my friends back then told me a lot of different versions, always ending with "you can't have them fixed"...

Your friends were wrong....

I have had MANY plated plastic parts restored by Vacuum Orna-Metal. Fantastic work and "good as new" results!

https://vacuumorna-metal.com/content/restoration

 

These are the dash panels they plated for my 1968 GTO.

1968-Pontiac-GTO-Lemans-Gauge-Bezel-Glov

 

 

 

Edited by 95Cardinal
Corrected spelling (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, John Byrd said:

Rusty, I still have my bronzed baby shoes that someone had done for my parents. (they couldn't even afford me, much less fancy shoes, lol) I always wondered how it was done since my 1947 versions have lasted VERY well !

DSCN3558.JPG

I used to help my father electroplate baby shoes. We used the exact same bases you have. Everything came from Warner Bronze . We would stuff the shoes with newspaper to get the shape, tie the laces and glue them down with shellac. Shellac the shoes and coat them with bronze powder. Then they were ready to go in the plating bath. Electroplating took a few hours. Then I think we washed them off and coated the inside with flocking. This was quite the thing to do in the fifties but in the sixties it tapered off, not sure if the fashion changed or the old man didn't bother to advertise.

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2 hours ago, 95Cardinal said:

Your friends were wrong....

I have had MANY plated plastic parts restored by Vacuum Orna-Metal. Fantastic work and "good as new" results!

https://vacuumorna-metal.com/content/restoration

 

These are the dash panels they plated for my 1968 GTO.

1968-Pontiac-GTO-Lemans-Gauge-Bezel-Glov

 

 

 

Yes sir, I found out they were wrong in the 80s, they had been telling me that in the 60s and 70s, lol. Your parts look great !

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