Having worked closely with some of our industry partners over the last few years, we have developed a ‘metallised’ plating process (also known as Metal Deposition) for our Nylon and Glass-Filled Nylon parts. This greatly enhances their functionality and strength, allowing them to be used in environments and within industry sectors that non-plated parts would struggle to compete in, enabling Additive Manufacturing (AM) to be used in more critical applications than previously envisaged.
The mechanical properties of our Nylon and Glass-Filled Nylon parts have significant benefits of their own and are widely recognised as the materials of choice when a higher degree of performance is required. Additionally, the plating process adds a higher level of stiffness and rigidity, as well as conductivity, electrical compliance in terms of EM or RF shielding and a considerably higher heat deflection temperature.
The plating process commences with a layer of copper being deposited and encasing the surface of the Nylon or Glass-Filled Nylon component. A variety of metals can then be deposited onto the copper layer, including various finishes of nickel and chrome, or precious metals such as gold and silver.
Total layer thicknesses can be as much as 200 microns, but the standard is usually approx. 100 microns. For instance, an average RF shield or EM coating is generally approx. 80 microns of copper and 20 microns of nickel. At approx. 150 micron surface layering, performance in terms of tensile strength increases by about 9 times that of the standard Nylon material.
Due to the layer based nature of the Additive Manufacturing process, the surface texture of the plating will always replicate the surface finish of the original substrate. Although this layered effect can be reduced prior to plating using various in-house techniques such as Vibro Finishing, the plating process cannot deliver a mirror finish.
BLACK (left): Nextel coated Nylon giving a ‘soft touch’ finish – wear resistant
SILVER (centre): Metal plated Nylon giving RF shielding and ruggedness
WHITE (right): Nylon production part incorporating undercuts, holes and ribs
Plating is a time based process and it can take a few days to reach the required thickness on the part. Although there are methods available to produce constant layer thickness, it should be borne in mind that in some component geometries ie. deep holes or undercuts, the depth of the plating will vary considerably.
To obtain a quote for your plating requirements, please contact our Projects Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.