Material Suggestion - Plated Strong & Flexible Plastic

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by PeregrineStudios, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. PeregrineStudios
    PeregrineStudios Well-Known Member
    Hey Shapeways,

    As always, I've been trying to look into middle grounds between plastic and stainless steel. Here's another suggestion: metal-plated plastic.

    Now, I'm not aware of the material properties, so this may not work, but would it be possible to offer a White Strong & Flexible Plastic that is dipped in Stainless Steel, Gold, or Bronze - similar to how you coat Stainless Steel with Bronze and Gold? That way, one could achieve the nice finish of a metal product without as much expense - and depending on the process, one could even print interlocking multiple parts that way, which would be a great step up from the current Stainless Steel.

    JACANT Well-Known Member
  3. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    The first line on that site is important

    "Vacuum metallizing is the process in which a simulated chrome finish is applied to a non-porous substrate such as plastic, metal or glass. This is done under vacuum by evaporating an extremely thin layer of nearly pure aluminum onto the surface to be coated. The machine used to perform the operation is called a vacuum metallizer."

  4. PeregrineStudios
    PeregrineStudios Well-Known Member
    From context, I assume Shapeways' plastic is indeed porous?
  5. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Yes, WSF is porous. (Blog post from September last year)
  6. PeregrineStudios
    PeregrineStudios Well-Known Member
    Cool, thanks for the link :)

    In any case, I'd like to see something like this. Surely there must be a solution to be found. A different plastic perhaps, or a different method of metal coating?
  7. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
  8. PeregrineStudios
    PeregrineStudios Well-Known Member
    To be honest, I was hoping for something 'in-Shapeways', as it were... something we could order and have ready to go out of the box. Long-term, obviously. For now, I'm looking Liqmet, it's a liquid metal (not a paint effect metal - literally, liquid metal). I'll let you all know how it goes in a few weeks, hopefully it goes well :)
  9. bartv
    bartv New Member
    Maybe polishing makes it non-porous enough for this process to work, it's an interesting technique. One thing I'm a little more worried about is applying this to flexible objects - I suspect the metal plating may crack or snap off?

  10. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    I've had SLA parts electroformed; enough metal was put on that the material was no longer flexible, so flaking off wasn't an issue. Sean Wise of Repliform did it. The parts were pretty but it was a skilled process: the design had to be done with it in mind, and if the design isn't simple the operator has to be smart. Sean is a wizard.

    The end of the project was that my customers preferred solid metal, and for smaller objects electroforming wasn't cheaper than printing in metal in the first place. Above a certain size I suppose that would be less true...but that's everything I know about electroforming.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  11. victorrings
    victorrings Well-Known Member
    sorry bart...

    there is another service that offers this technique...

    i won't tell you who it is but this is the material info...

  12. bartv
    bartv New Member
    That's really interesting info. Thanks!
  13. NormL
    NormL New Member
    If you print the items thick enough, flexibility is not an issue. With WSF the issue that you cannot get away from is roughness. I printed polished prints of an Ariel Atom that was raised from a photograph (this was a test and I didn't think this would work) that was WSF and two badges for engine air cleaners out of polished alumide.


    I sent them to ChromeTech and got them back about a month later.


    The Atom badge is worthless, but, the other two actually look very cool in person. They are not the traditional chrome though, the surface was just too rough. The surface was not design flat and was a large arc, which is why you see the radial lines. I want to see a chromed FUD print, but, I currently have no plans on that. I don't remember the exact comment from the chrome person, but, there was a limit of smallness he was willing to try. My FUD stuff tends to be much smaller