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Electroplating 3D Printed Plastic Parts

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SMTA-Joe

#83202

Electroplating 3D Printed Plastic Parts | 7 August, 2019

Hello SMTA,

I have been approached about researching the potential for electroplating 3D printed plastic parts. Electroplating plastic has been around for a while, but with the rise of 3D printing, this option is becoming something worth investigating.

Does anyone know much about this process, i.e., quality of conductivity of parts after plating, durability, etc.?

Does the finish of these parts resemble the 3D print, insomuch as the rough appearance? Or does this go away after plating?

Any information would be helpful!

This message was posted via the Electronics Forum @ SMTASMTA

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#83711

Electroplating 3D Printed Plastic Parts | 9 November, 2019

I'd have thought that the surface finish would be pretty much the same as when printed as electroplating is monumentally thin. I've not tried plastics, but when plating metals the surface has to be pretty much perfect in order to get an attractive result ( think Chrome plating, any defect on the surface will stand out like a sore thumb ). Chemically smoothed 3d prints would be the logical step, to get the plastic as smooth as possible before coating

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#83733

Electroplating 3D Printed Plastic Parts | 12 November, 2019

A few lifetimes ago I worked for a company that electroless plated plastic cases for computers. I can't remember if it was us or just us and one other company. The FCC said that computers had to be shielded. So plastic computer cases had to be plated. Long story short, notice that your computer has metal sides. We never did get quality and quantity where it needed to be.

My decades old understanding is that first you have to etch the plastic with acid and metal and then plate it.

I also seem to remember that some kind of nitric acid has a brownish yellowish haze if it gets in the air...

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SMTA-Joe

#83750

Electroplating 3D Printed Plastic Parts | 14 November, 2019

The question is coming from Engineering, as potentially a way of making extremely complicated parts with a 3D printer, that would then need either shielding, or simply conductive properties. Also, the potential for light weighting to a lesser extent. Another option would be for complex housings that need grounding/shielding.

This was more an exploratory inquiry than anything based on an immediate need.

This message was posted via the Electronics Forum @ SMTASMTA

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