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Chrome plating

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  • Member since
    June 2018
Chrome plating
Posted by kenofyork on Saturday, June 9, 2018 7:10 AM

  I would like information and links about the chrome plating process of plastic.  I know virtually nothing about this so even basic information would be helpful.

   I am looking to plate a few hundred to a few thousand bumpers. Styrene plastic. looking to buy the equipment and not have someone else do the plating as the costs would be too high.

   Just some background info- I am trying to teach myself how to make injection molds so I can have 1/32 scale car models to slot car race with.  The results will NOT be up to professional standards, but in the case of the cars being made there is no other way to get some of these subjects.

   I have been making some tests and the first results did not fill completely. After some refinements will be running some more trials this weekend.





  Also, a good decal designer would be most helpful to find. I answer ads on Craigslist for freelance graphics designers and they seem completely uninterested. They also have never opened a model car kit in their life and have no idea what a decal is........



  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: Canberra, Australia
Posted by aussiemuscle308 on Saturday, June 9, 2018 7:23 AM

i'd probably be getting a 3d printer rather than injection molding. i did post a story here several years ago about a 'home injection kit'.

Chrome i believe is done by applying a copper layer to the plastic to make it conductive so it can be plated. Most techniques are well outside the normal hobby level. For high volume numbers you are considering, perhaps outsource it to a professional?

My Flickr:

  • Member since
    June 2018
Posted by kenofyork on Saturday, June 9, 2018 7:43 AM

  This is kind of past the hobby level.  I have been making injection molded bits and pieces for 7 years now.  Picked up a scrap 28 ton Arburg and set it up in my shop.  So hobby has morphed in to part-time business.

  This is by far the most complex item I have attempted.

  I did some google searches and will continue to check. 

  The most likely outcome is simply to not include plated parts and assume builders can use that pen that looks like chrome.


  • Member since
    March 2017
  • From: Brighton England
Posted by Spencer Mopar Fan on Saturday, June 9, 2018 7:25 PM

Hello Ken .

The pen you are referring to is called Molotow . They come in different nib sizes from 1mm to 4mm I believe . Approx £8 + !!

You may end up with writers cramp if doing a thousand though Surprise

Another method would be Bare Metal Foiling . Like "silver leafing" a specific glue spread on the surface then apply the chrome foil  .

Never used it myself , but some on here do ….

"anyone help out here  ??" Embarrassed

  • Member since
    December 2017
Posted by Dale Gribble on Saturday, June 9, 2018 9:28 PM

The process applied to mass produced kits is called vacuum metalizing . 

your friendly neighborhood spam eliminator... 

build it, dont let it sit on the shelf.....rareity is for sissies ! 

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Monday, June 11, 2018 7:42 AM

Hello Ken. A model builder with his own injection molding equipment and the ability to cut dies. That has to be the stuff dreams are made of.

I don't kow much about vacuum plating, but I would think it would be much cheaper and less hassle to contract out the plating. There are a fair number of outfits providing this service, including a couple specifically geared toward the model car hobby (Chrome Tech USA, Little Motor Kar Co., etc), not to mention numerous wider commercial service providers. Buying equipment and developing the skills and expertise would seem prohibitive, but I'm talking to a guy who injects his own plastic into his own tools, so what do I know.

I'm not much more help on decals, but there are many puveyors of aftermarket resin and transkits that sell kits with decals, so there are a few providers of this service out there as well. Cartograph in Italy is one of the better known quality providers.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    June 2018
Posted by kenofyork on Monday, June 11, 2018 3:36 PM


  I may have some antique equipment but I am short on ability. It is a pretty steep learning curve.

  I am at least making full cars, but still have a lot of fine tuning to do. Here are some pics of some test shots and one car filed down.


  I was given a price of $5 to plate a bumper, and while that might be great if you are building a single model I am hoping to offer this as a kit someday. Adding $5 to the cost of each kit might not make it worthwhile. It might be best to just forget the chrome.


 I would like to use Cartograf for decals, but I need to find a graphic designer to do the layout. My printer has a girl and will do it for $45 per hour. But I am sure it will take at least an hour to explain what a car model is and what a decal is.............




  • Member since
    September 2011
Posted by BUGATTI FAN on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:57 AM

Refills are available for the Molotow Chrome markers that can be used in an air brush.

  • Member since
    January 2017
Posted by 195X on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 10:05 PM

Get the Molotow refill. It can be shot through an air brush and needs no thinning. Cleanup with acetone. Give it at least two days to cure and you can clear coat. It's a little expensive but it covers beautifully. One refill bottle should do a couple dozen bumper pairs.

My favorite color is clear. I am also ambidexterous, I can screw up equally well with either hand. I am 53 years old and been building for most of that time. :)

On the bench... somewhere. Pink Panther show car, 1978 Dodge Magnum Charger Daytona Midnight edition SE 300. Mongrel T.

  • Member since
    June 2018
Posted by kenofyork on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 3:19 PM

 I used the pen and the bumper seems to look fine. It is a slot car so going to get battered, and we race digital which makes things more crunchy.  Making a model kit is a lot more challenging than it seems.  This one is not good enough to sell at the current time due to parts not fitting together.  It helped me to learn a lot and I have a tub full of 1/32 scale Mercury Cyclones to build over the next few years. If I can get this mold to perform better and make some adjustments I would like to offer these to other 1/32 slot racers.  The selection of American cars is a little thin.

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Thursday, August 16, 2018 8:12 AM

Unfortunately I can't see any of your pictures now (our corporate net nanny settings change frequently) but glad to hear things are working out. Please show us some photos of your Mercury when you get one together.

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    March 2010
  • From: Midwest
Posted by High octane on Sunday, September 2, 2018 6:17 PM

Well said Art, and thanks.

High octane

  • Member since
    June 2018
Posted by kenofyork on Monday, September 3, 2018 11:44 AM

  Thanks for the information Art. Is there a place to purchase this equipment or a company that offers the supplies to do this?


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