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Plastic components can be coated with metal, a process called Metallising, for both aesthetic and mechanical purposes. Visually, a metal coated component features increased gloss and reflectivity. Other properties, such as abrasion resistance and electric conductivity, which are not innate characteristics of plastic, are often obtained through metallisation. Metallised plastic components are used in similar applications as metal plated parts, but tend to be lower in weight and have higher corrosion resistance, although not in all cases. In addition, electrical conductivity can be controlled in metallised plastic components, and they are inexpensive to manufacture. To coat a plastic component, several common methods are used, the process we use is called Vacuum metallising.
Before the process can begin, the plastic component is washed and coated with a base coat, so that the metal layer is smooth and uniform. Next, a metal (typically aluminum) is evaporated in a vacuum chamber. The vapour then condenses onto the surface of the substrate, leaving a thin layer of metal coating. The entire process takes place within a vacuum chamber to prevent oxidation. This deposition process is also commonly called physical vapour deposition. Depending on the component’s application, a top coat may be applied after deposition to increase properties such as abrasive resistance. Metallised plastic components that receive their coats via this process are found in a wide range of applications, from Coffin Handles and accessories, Kitchen cupboard accessories, Cosmetics and automotive interior parts.