Science,  Technology

How to Metallize Plastic

Written by: Denton Vacuum

Plastic does not innately conduct electricity. It’s also not usually reflective and glossy, unless you metalize it. The process leaves plastic pieces coated in a metallic shell, allowing usage in the same components that metal pieces would be used. Another advantage to metalizing plastic is that you can make a metallic component for cheaper than it would cost to make manufacture the metal piece. The final piece also has some protection against abrasion, and its lighter weight than a metal component would be. Here is how the vacuum metallization process works.


To begin, the piece is washed and coated with a base layer. This base layer helps the metallic coating get applied evenly over the surface of the piece. Then a metal, typically aluminum, is evaporated inside of a vacuum chamber. The vapors that are created during this process float around inside the sputtering systems, eventually settling on the plastic piece in a thin metallic layer.


To prevent the piece from oxidizing during the process, the entire metallization takes place within a sputter deposition system. The system creates the vacuum, preventing air from coming into contact with the metallic particles.

Final Preparations

If you want to increase the abrasion resistance on the piece you’re working with, a top coat can be applied after deposition is complete. These types of parts are found in automotive components and certain types of foils.

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