Plating Onto ABS-PC

ABS-PC is a blend of polycarbonate (PC) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), commonly used in a variety of industries as a material for 3D printing and part development. This plastic provides a unique part material, offering high processability and excellent mechanical and heat capabilities. Commonly used in the automotive and electronics industries, ABS-PC serves in a wide number of capacities and is often plated with metallic substances for aesthetic and functional purposes.

If you need your ABS-PC parts plated, SPC has you covered. We offer plating onto ABS-PC plastics as a service, so you can plate your plastic parts to meet your requirements and specifications. No matter your application, you can partner with SPC to achieve cost-effective, high-quality outcomes for your plated ABS-PC parts.

Properties and Reasons for Plating ABS-PC Plastic

ABS-PC plastic blends the best parts of its ingredient materials, combining the dimensional stability and easy processing of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene with the mechanical strength and environmental stability of polycarbonate. As a whole, this plastic blend offers the following properties:

  • High impact strength
  • Heat resistance
  • High stiffness
  • Easy processing
  • Low overall shrinkage
  • High dimensional accuracy

Plating onto plastic provides numerous additional benefits on top of those offered by the base material, and plating onto ABS-PC is no exception. The plating process produces an ABS-PC part that has some metallic properties, including:

  • Thermal resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Corrosion and wear resistance
  • Reduced moisture absorption
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Physical stability and strength

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How Plating Onto ABS-PC Works

Being non-metallic in their composition, plastic parts made of ABS-PC must be properly prepared before they can be plated. Essentially, this involves a "metallization" process, where the adhesive properties of the plastic are increased as much as possible by cleaning, increasing the surface area and chemically altering the surface of the part. Once this is finished, the part can undergo electroless plating for its first layer. While the exact process varies from job to job, it generally includes:

  • Cleaning the part of imperfections like grease and dust
  • Chemically etching the surface to support bonding
  • Conditioning and neutralizing the surface of the part to prepare for bonding
  • Activating the surface to catalyze the bond between the part and the metallic layer

If the part is prepared correctly, an electroless plating process will result in a successful metallic layer. Once this layer is firmly in place, the part can undergo traditional electroplating for any subsequent layers.

Metals for Plating on ABS-PC Plastics

Once the plastic metallization process is complete, there are several types of metals that can be plated onto an ABS-PC plastic part, so you can choose the finish that best fits your needs. SPC offers several options for each type of plastic, including:

  • Copper: Known for its excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, copper plating is an often-used and popular solution for metalizing plastic surfaces. Compared to conductive precious metals like silver and gold, it's affordable and highly effective.

  • Gold: Aside from improving the aesthetic appearance of the component in question, gold plating offers numerous functional benefits when plated on plastic. This enhancement includes corrosion resistance, heat shielding properties and electrical conductivity, all of which allow ABS-PC plastic parts greater functionality in a wider range of environmental conditions.

  • Nickel: Aesthetic as well as functional, nickel maintains a bright, shiny, metallic look and provides plastic with excellent resistance to both corrosion and wear. Nickel alloys frequently include metals like tin and tungsten, which increases hardness for structural stability while also improving the resistance of the part to wear and corrosion.

If you have questions about other plating options, contact SPC to speak with a consultant about the options available to you.

Why Choose SPC for Plating on Your ABS-PC Plastics?

If you need precise plating onto your polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene parts, you can trust SPC. While many companies do not offer plating on plastics as a service, we regularly plate plastic parts — including ABS-PC — providing a variety of customized electroplating and electroless plating processes.

On top of that, our family-owned company is dedicated to total customer satisfaction, meaning that we commit ourselves to maintaining the highest product standards and the best plating procedures. We're a company that has been around since 1925, so you can trust us to lend our extensive experience to your next project. We'll help you produce high-quality products every time.

Interested in learning more about plating onto plastics and how SPC can help your business achieve more with your plating company?

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"I would like to thank you for the help you have provided us in developing an electroless nickel plating technique on an unusual substrate. The sample platings you provided show that we should be able to reach our goals. I especially appreciate your willingness to take on an unusual job, with the uncertainties that that entails...We are looking forward to working with you in the future on our plating needs."

– Robert K.