Hi guys. Has anyone did any research around adding a chrome finish to a

Hi guys. Has anyone did any research around adding a chrome finish to a printed part?. I know that plastic can be “metalized” but the “industrial” method uses a high pressure chamber. Appart from metal spray paint, are there any other alternatives. I was thinking something around electrolisis, but we have the non conductive plastic issue :smiley:

To apply real chrome to plastic parts, the part needs to be metalized first - this is usually done with copper vapor in a vacuum chamber. The part may also be painted in silver paint, basically anything that makes it conductive. It is then plated as usual.
We do have conductive printable plastic, but i’d guess you’d need to vapor finish it before plating anyways since the ridges would take away much of the chrome appeal.

Yes, i was thinking about an ABS print with acetone vapor treatment. I didnt knew that silver paint was conductive.

I might give it a try.


Silver paint as in paint that contains silver. It’s often sold as a fix for a broken defogger and is already pretty expensive for those small amounts.
You might want to look into just spray-painting your part with a chrome effect paint if you don’t need the real hard chrome finish. Spray paints often create a very real chrome effect that’s pretty hard to tell from the real thing.

is there a powder coat material with a lower melting point than a printable plastic?

You can in fact get plastic powder coated, for example here: http://www.wrightcoating.com/specialty-coatings/plastics/powder-coating
They mention temperatures of 180-250°C, so coating PLA is pretty much off the table.

What sort of conductivity is required for chroming a part?

imho, it would be easier just to cast the part in aluminum then throw it through a vibratory tumbler.

@ThantiK that may be easier, but it is not the same, if you could selectivity chrome a product it could make it look more like the finished piece (if you are rapid prototyping), this may mean more work. There are many reasons to want the chrome, or another electroplated metal on a, plastic piece.

How about a vacuum form shrink-wrap treatment… I found plans to Build your won machine to vacuum form at home, and here’s some chrome film (in a sample pack)