The "GUIDE TO CHROMING" Thread. Anything else to add?

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PropReplicator

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
O.k., I see threads on this subject pop up all the time, so I figured I could make one thread and gather ALL the info on the various techniques and how they work and how to have it done. Then we'll see if we can get it archived.


The way I'd like to do it would be to have everyone with some knowledge or an opinion post here with the info, and I'll edit it all up into this first post so it's all in one location, list you as a contributor for that technique, and then delete your post so things will stay to one page or so. Sound cool?

Let's begin.


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<font color="#00FF00">TECHNIQUE:</font> Vacuum metalizing.

<font color="#0099FF">What is it, exactly?</font>
Vacuum deposition of evaporated aluminum. This is the most common form of chroming done to plastics where the prop is primed and then baked in an oven, before being put into a Vacuum Chamber where Aluminium coils are heated and vaporise onto the prop surface. A clear top lacquer then seals it and provides the coloured tint.

From CV Vacuum Platers Site:

Vacuum metalized plating is an environmentally friendly process that is extensively used in the automotive industry.

Firstly, all parts are washed in a special bath to remove any impurities on the surface of the plastic from handling. Then the pieces are hand sanded to ensure proper adhesion and to remove small imperfections and scratches.

The parts are then painted with a base coat so the vacuum metalized finish will adhere to the part and then baked to cure the paint. Now the piece is ready for plating.

The pieces are placed on racks that are attached to a large carousel which will be loaded into the vacuum chamber for the plating process.

In the middle of the carousel there are filaments into which aluminum canes are loaded. After the carousel has been loaded the chamber is pumped down (all the oxygen removed), the filaments are then fired and like magic all the parts come out shiny.

<font color="#0099FF">How does it hold up to handling/use?</font>
Quite well, but depends on the top coat and the kind of use. VM pieces have been used in cars (interior dashboard bezels and grills) and inexpensive bathroom/kitchen fixtures for years. So it stands up well to handling and sun and dust but you don't want to actively handle it or wear it down. Many older collector car owners have some of the parts re-metalized due to years of exposure and use. And if the casting material or primer shrinks or expands, it will likely effect the VM finish.

<font color="#0099FF">What kinds of things can be "chromed" using this technique?</font>
Mainly plastics or resins. I have no idea if wood can be done but I believe anything that can be primed and baked at the required temperature should be able to be VM'd. Again, shrinking and expansion of the material can be a problem.

<font color="#0099FF">What kind of prep work is necessary?</font>
Must be a perfectly smooth surface to result in a smooth finish. All surfaces must be completely clean of mold release or other contaminants and sanded and cleaned again and then primed.

<font color="#0099FF">How much does it cost?</font>
$75-100 for a "gold idol" size up to $1000+ for an "ark" sized piece.

<font color="#0099FF">Other Pros/Cons?</font>
Good overall compromise: not as nice a finish as electroplate but more inexpensive and perfect for props, and it's usually used on actual movie props.

Very senstitive to pre-existing surface conditions.

The tint in the clear top coat is everything- especially with a gold color- if it's too green or too yellow, it appears fake.

<font color="#0099FF">Where can I have this done?</font>
There are many places but one vendor that seems to do "props" is http://www.cvvacuumplaters.com/

Contributors: belloq, BingoBongo275

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<font color="#00FF00">TECHNIQUE:</font> Electroplating

<font color="#0099FF">What is it, exactly?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">How does it hold up to handling/use?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">What kinds of things can be "chromed" using this technique?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">What kind of prep work is necessary?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">How much does it cost?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">Other Pros/Cons?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">Where can I have this done?</font>
http://www.caswellplating.com/

Contributors: Emuyshondt

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<font color="#00FF00">TECHNIQUE:</font> Mirror Silvering (e.g., "Fantachrome")

<font color="#0099FF">What is it, exactly?</font>
It's actually a paint process.

<font color="#0099FF">How does it hold up to handling/use?</font>
Holds up much better than typical paints, but still does not have the durability of the "truer" chroming processes.

<font color="#0099FF">What kinds of things can be "chromed" using this technique?</font>
This technique is usually used on resin pieces which are harder to get chromed using the traditional techniques. however, I assume that anything that can be painted can be Fantachromed.

<font color="#0099FF">What kind of prep work is necessary?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">How much does it cost?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">Other Pros/Cons?</font>
This process is very unreliable and uses dangerouse chemicals that if inhailed will kill you in under 3 min. Silver Nitrate, ammonia and sulfuric acid are 3 of the 6 chemicals used and sold in this process. This process can only be used in a perfect climate-controlled environment with professional equipment. Results are 50/50 . Reflectivity on a proper surface is 99%

<font color="#0099FF">Where can I have this done?</font>
Alsa corp being the most expensive and least reliable trademarked the name Fantachrome. The main manufacturer of this process is Jema American. Also the same chemicals can be purchased from Peacock Labs, or through many different Mirror resilvering distributors.

Contributors: PHArchivist, darthscifi, Quartz

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<font color="#00FF00">TECHNIQUE:</font> Alclad II paint

<font color="#0099FF">What is it, exactly?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">How does it hold up to handling/use?</font>

<font color="#0099FF">What kinds of things can be "chromed" using this technique?</font>
Anything that can be painted with a non-flexible paint.

<font color="#0099FF">What kind of prep work is necessary?</font>
Like the prep work for most paint jobs, the surface of the piece should be finely sanded and free from dust or any chemicals that may hinder the curing process of the paint.

In addition to the prep of the surface, you must first lay down a base coat of gloss black enamel for the Alclad to bond to. If you don't, it will just rub off. Make sure there are no fingerprints on the gloss black enamel before you apply the chrome paint....they will show.

(Note: gloss black is required for a true chrome surface. You can experiment with other base coats such as satin and flat black to get different levels of chroming effects.)

Also - it is recommended to seal your finish with a coat of Future acrylic floor wax to maintain the shine without dulling it.

<font color="#0099FF">How much does it cost?</font>
$7-$8 for a 1oz. bottle (used in an airbrush)
$25-$30 for a 4oz. aerosol can (new)

<font color="#0099FF">Other Pros/Cons?</font>
You can do it yourself, but you will need an airbrush for the best effect.

<font color="#0099FF">Where can I get this?</font>
The manufacturer (/ prime distributor?) maintains a website at the following URL:
http://members.tripod.co.uk/AlcladII/index.htm

The companyÂ’s Contact address was listed as:
119 Central Drive #C
Brandon, FL 33510
Tel # (813) 643-1232

Distributors:
Sentai Distributors/International Hobby Supply
8839 Shirley Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324
http://www.plasticmodels.com
Email plasticm@pacbell.net
818-886-3113 (Stock checks/info)
800-446-4846 (US fax)
818-886-2551 (International fax)

http://www.rollmodels.net/search/phpsrch2.htm
Under manufacturer select alclad.

http://www.acehobby.co.nz/ossb2/root/ossbec3/productlist.asp?category=Paint

http://www.squadron.com/

http://www.internationalhobby.com/ihs/kpsearch.asp?VendorCode=1485

Contributors: Rayra, Kassbek, redavhtrad, masterjedi322, itbedave, LeMarchand

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PHArchivist

Master Member
FANTACHROME: It works on resin -- I did it for my Terminator bust. Appearance is 95% - 99% as good as chrome. My piece hopwever, had a flaw. I either did not clean off all the mold release properly, or I left some cleanser on it. The cranium was left very pitted.

As a correction (and alternative to chroming) I applied self-adhesive chrome mylar to the top of the skull. The mylar looks nearly indistinguishable from the Fantachrome. Mylar is a good alternative to plating IF you do not have any compound curves (example: the elbow cup on an endo arm). May want to add the the first post self-adhesive chrome mylar as yet another method.

If you want to add follow up posts as a photo archive, here you go:

Fantachrome, with self-adhesive chrome mylar on the skull above the "ear" port:

[attachmentid=12614]
 
I've had a good read through the VM process above and it all seems about right. It looks like you've gone through the information in my Chroming page which is up to date (accessed from the front page of www.StarWarsHelmets.com)

I VM'd another four C-3PO heads last week here in the UK and achieved results that were very good though not quite perfect.



Its quite an agressive process (i.e. the baking) and given the need to prime with 2pak and then sand down till smooth (but not so much that you go through the 2pak) is not without its hassles.

I'd be interested to see how others have faired with this and other processes (Nickel plating has also been mentioned to me).

Cheers

Jez
 

morpheus13

Well-Known Member
May I suggest entering SNJ Metal Powder as an alternative. the product is a fine metal powder that is applied to gloss white paint before it has cured completely. Once bonded to the surface it can be buffed to a polished surface as smooth as the original painted base coat. It comes in several colors (chrome, aluminium, copper, gold and bronze) and is fairly simple to use on smaller parts. The larger the item, the more difficult the treatment.

Another alternative is bare metal foil.

I just found this page. It has some useful info of painted metal systems.

http://m2reviews.cnsi.net/others/features/mp/mcleodpaints.htm
 

Egon Spengler

Sr Member
I'd like to know how the heck you chrome rubber and not have it crack and flake off. There are chomed rubber stunt sabers.
 

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PropReplicator

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
</SPAN><TABLE BORDER=0 ALIGN=CENTER WIDTH=85%><TR><TD CLASS=$row_color>
Flix4Me wrote:
<HR></TD></TR><TR><TD CLASS=$row_color>
This is one of those topics that always pops up. I found a directory of platers online. Some of them appear to plate plastic. If you have anything plated by one of these businesses, please post your review here. Or, if you know of other resources, please post them.


Directory:
http://www.uponone.com/linkscat26.php

Here is a brief overview of the triple plating process:
http://www.chromemyplastic.com/
</TD></TR><TR><TD><HR></TD></TR></TABLE><SPAN CLASS=$row_color>
 

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