How Plating on Plastic Compares to Plating on Metal

The plating process for plastic and metal are different and both have different benefits to offer. Plating on plastic creates an impression of higher quality, protects against corrosion and chemical attack, increases strength, gives plastic the ability to conduct electricity. Metal plating protects metal against corrosion, provides better wear resistance, increased solderability, increased strength, decorative quality to metal and help it reduce friction. These benefits give you a clear idea of the importance of plating process for metal and plastics. Read in this blog, comparison of plating on plastics to plating on metal :

Plating on plastics

  • The plastic part to be plated needs to be metalized once it is molded. This process helps the plastic part become more adhesive so that it can be plated properly. Following steps are followed for the plastic plating:
  • Cleaning- the plastic part should be cleaned to make it free from fingerprints or dirt that may have been accumulated during the manufacturing process.
  • Pre-dipping- at this step plastic part is dipped into a solvent before the next step to protect any poorly molded parts and to make the etching easier.
  • Etching: etching improves the ability of the plastic part to absorb liquid and increase bonding with the metal finish.
  • Conditioning: conditioning is optional but it ensures that the part is more uniformly plated, improving the overall appearance.
  • Neutralizing: next step is using a neutralizer to remove the excess etchant.
  • Activating: the part needs to be activated after using the pre-activator. Activators become a catalyst for the plating process and reduce the drag-out cost for the part.
  • Accelerating: an accelerator reduces the changes of skip plate along with performing its main function to remove stannous hydroxide, allowing activator to work.
  • Bath immersion: in this final step, bath covers the plastic part in a metal coating. The metal used to coat the part is chosen according to required finish.

Plating on metal:

  • The metal plating process is carried out in following steps:
  • Cleaning: the part that needs to be plated should be cleaned first to make it free of any contaminating particles that can interfere with the plating process.
  • Drying and acid cleaning: rinse and dry the part once the cleaning process is done. Then clean it with acid before performing etching.
  • Etching: etching process roughens the surface of the part and increases its ability to adhere to the metal coating.
  • Plating: the part is then submerged in an electroplating tank. The duration for which the part is submerged depends on how thick the metal coating needs to be.
  • Rinsing and chemical rinsing: once the plating part is over, the metal needs to undergo a series of chemical rinses and water rinses at specific temperatures.
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