When it comes to plastic and ceramic plating, manufacturers must often take extra steps to improve and protect their products. As a preferred finishing technique, electroplating consists of depositing a metal coating onto the substrate, which is then polished to a high shine. As a result of plastic or ceramic plating, these surfaces become electrically conductive, with increased strength and durability, and with improved corrosion resistance.
Regardless of the material used, the electroplating process is the same. The surface must first be “metalized” with nickel or copper electroless plating to provide a protective undercoating and “metalize” it. An autocatalytic chemical reaction instead of electricity is used in the electroless method as opposed to electroplating. In addition, this coating will aid in the adhesion of the topcoat, which can be made of virtually any metal (such as gold or silver) or metal alloy.
A plating company must be aware of some subtle differences when plastic and ceramic plating, even though the technique is similar.
During electroplating, ions from one metal are dispersed on the surface of another metal, forming a thin layer. Some very common uses of plastic plating include corrosion and wear protection, surface hardening to improve electrical conductivity and the cosmetic improvement of a component. It is now a widely accepted industrial practice to plate metal onto plastic, which has a number of advantages for manufacturers everywhere.
In the 1960s, the automotive industry began electroplating chrome onto acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) to create plastics for industrial applications. Today, a wide variety of plastic materials, such as Teflon, polycarbonate, nylon, and polysulfone, can be plated. There are environmental and health concerns associated with chrome plating that has made it a rare practice. Nickel has replaced chrome in many products. There are many applications where electrical conductivity is required.
During glass or ceramic plating, the desired physical and mechanical properties of a different material, namely metals, are transferred to these otherwise fragile components. No matter what, all components must perform under pressure, even if their purposes and functions are very different. Metals are used to provide manufactured components with the strength, durability, thermal, and electrical properties of a metal, among other things.
These materials are more difficult to work with than traditional materials but they offer thermal advantages that make them a common plating substrate for electronic components. With the addition of metal or alloy ceramic plating, they become stronger and electrically conductible for use in electronic applications. Copper, aluminium, tin, gold, zinc, silver, and nickel are some of the most commonly used metals and alloys in plating. While ceramics and glass have basic properties, metals offer beauty and durability that ceramics and glass do not. The mechanical, chemical and physical properties of a ceramic or glass surface can be improved by adding metal.
Your component can be plated with a specific metal if you want to reduce corrosion or friction, or if you want to increase strength, durability, and electrical conductivity. Whatever the case, choosing a component for plating is crucial.
To ensure that a metal coating adheres to a plastic substrate, the surface must be properly prepared. Cleansing, etching, neutralising, and activating are some of the common steps in pretreatment.
A wide variety of materials are used in ceramic plating:
- Aluminium oxide (bauxite)
- Steatite, a magnesium silicate derivative.
- Mullite, a rare silicate
Most ceramics are lighter and more porous than glass. A thicker coating layer is therefore required to achieve the desired result in ceramic plating.
The molybdenum-manganese film followed by an electroless nickel diffusion barrier layer can be used to create extremely thick coating layers. To prepare the substrate for processes like soldering and welding, a third layer of gold or silver is applied to create a tight seal. Electrical conductivity applications benefit from a thinner coating.
Through the use of technology, Smart Microns aim to provide the highest quality at a reasonable price, thereby benefiting both parties. All plating, cleaning, and polishing needs can be met with our custom solutions. A wide range of government and non-government organisations in the aerospace, industrial hardware, research and energy sectors have partnered with us to develop new technologies.