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Plating on plastics refers to electroplating the plastic surface with metals such as nickel, chrome, electro-less nickel, copper, cobalt phosphorous, gold, silver and others. This process offers several functional as well as decorative benefits to the finished product. The process provides an exceptional aesthetic along with additional benefits such as flexibility, toughness and excellent anti-corrosive properties.

US POP Market Revenue by Plating, 2014 - 2025(USD Million)

  • Chrome
  • Nickel
  • Others
plating on plastic

Types of Plastic for Electroplating

  • Polycarbonate: A strong and durable thermoplastic commonly used in the automotive, aerospace, and construction applications.
  • ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene):  ABS is a low-cost engineering plastic that is easy to machine and fabricate. ABS is an ideal material for structural applications when impact resistance, strength, and stiffness are required. It is widely used for machining pre-production prototypes since it has excellent dimensional stability and is easy to paint and glue.

  • ABS/PC: (PC+ABS) blends that exhibit an excellent balance of properties, most notably high toughness – even at cold temperatures –, rigidity, dimensional stability, excellent creep resistance, low moisture absorption and good heat resistance.

  • Polysulfone: A thermoplastic polymer known for its transparency, strength, and ability to withstand high heats. Can be seen in many industrial applications where flame retardant plastic is preferred.
  • PP:  Has a greater degree of crystallinity, making PP stiffer and more resistant to creep (the tendency to flow under stress) as compared to polyethylene (PE) PP is resilient and resistant to fatigue; highly resistant to most acids and alkalis; resistant to most organic solvents below 176°F (80°C); can be subjected to steam sterilization
  • Nylon: Nylon is one of the most widely used engineering thermoplastics. It offers an excellent combination of mechanical performance and cost. There are many nylon grades available today, the most common being nylon 6/6 and nylon 6. The properties of both nylon products are very similar; and typically, they can be used interchangeably.

Best Metals to Plate on Substrates

  • Copper: Well known for its electrical conductivity, copper is a great choice for plating non conductive substrates. A huge benefit to copper plating on plastic is its relatively low cost, especially when compared to other precious metals.
  • Gold: The #1 reason for gold plating is appearance, but it also offers a number of added benefits. Gold plating on plastic can withstand corrosion and is a good conductor of electricity. Golds heat shielding properties make it an easy choice for high temperature applications.
  • Nickel: Due to nickels bright and shiny appearance, it can serve as a durable, and less toxic, substitute for chrome on plated automotive parts. Alloying nickel with other metals such as tungsten or tin can enhance its corrosion resistance properties.
  • Chrome: Providing a smooth and polished chrome finish with good corrosion resistance, chrome is commonly used as a decretive plating on plastic method in the automotive industry.



Did you know that plastics and polymers account for, on average, 17% of the total weight of exterior and interior car parts, according to Global Market Insights? In addition to decreased weight and increased efficiency, plastic parts also provide a great deal of flexibility. The ability to mold and bend polymers into any shape gives engineers a wide swath of options to develop and implement design styles that just wouldn’t be available without plating on plastic. Automotive manufacturers and producers of OEM parts are taking advantage of plastic plating.

Nickel plating is widely adopted in the automotive industry thanks to its bright, chrome-like finish and low toxicity levels. The largest application of nickel plating on plastic is in decorative metal plating onto plastic substrates, but can also be used in electrical applications within the vehicles as well. The nickel coating can also provide functional uses as well, such as corrosion resistance, and protection against general wear and tear due to normal use.


Plating on plastics has been predominant in the automotive industry for some time, but did you know the transportation industry in general has the largest market shift in terms of adoption?

Modern engineered plastics are used in countless industries and applications throughout the world. These materials are popular for many reasons, including their versatility, easy machinability, and excellent surface finishes. However, because plastics are not electrically conductive, they are very difficult to plate with proper adhesion. Our electroplating projects have been described as having “excellent adhesion and RF performance” by our clients. This is important because many of the applications for plastic plating will be deployed in extreme environmental conditions, such as high temperature or high altitude/low temperature ranges.




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