Metal plating of plastics really started to kick in around the sixties when it was discovered that ABS could be pre-treated to ensure proper adhesion of the metal film. The automotive industry was one of the first to really take advantage of the new technique. Automakers could mold trim and other exterior components into appealing shapes and give them a metallic look that inspired car lovers to ogle the beloved vehicle.
With the advent of rapid prototyping and low volume digitally manufactured parts, plating plastic parts has taken on a whole new “Shape.” FDM technology from Stratasys uses production-grade ABS and PC (Polycarbonate) thermoplastics which are ideal for the electroplating process. Combining that with the ability to create very unique shapes that would be difficult to mold, allows designers to create products that are functional and aesthetically appealing.
Recently Redeye On Demand Rapid Prototype and Production service did a project where the customer wanted a metal looking housing for electrical components. It had to be lightweight and waterproof. This low-volume, digital manufacturing application was the ideal solution for the customer.
Read detailed guide on using an FDM part master and how to finishing these parts for the metal-coating process.