Vacuum Metalize Source and Prep

Luuke

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Looks like I'm acquiring a Raiders Idol and I need to get it vacuum metalized gold. Any vendors anyone can recommend? Also, do you know if they require prep work to be done before it's sent or do they do that sort of thing?
 

lmgill

Sr Member
Prep:
The meatalizing is very thin (from .0005" to .003" thick) which means the surface needs to be very clean and smooth if you want a mirror like finish. Because any sanding marks greater than 2000 grit will likely show. Typically, the metalizing company will put a thin primer on your part first, but this will not hide scratches deeper than 600 grit. They will coat it in aluminum and add a transparent yellow lacquer over it to make it gold colored. Real gold (like we use on space helmet visors) is extremely expensive.
Now, you piece will go into a near PERFECT vacuum. This is far more extreme than it sounds. Any voids or liquids will be drastically affected and if they are close enough to the surface they will blister or leach out of said surface. So, having a casting that is clean with no air bubbles, so it does not have lots of areas "filled" is important. If it has been filled, and any air space was left under the filler, then these areas will "gas out" and either blister the primer or the filled area will pop out.
Because it's going in a vacuum, it needs to be held and rotated so the "beam" or spray of aluminum will hit all surfaces evenly (Remember no atmosphere to move particles around corners) So I would suggest drilling a hole in the bottom and securing a 1/4-20 bolt so they have a secure way to hold the idol. Anything on or near the surface to be coated will leave a shadow, so you can't really wrap a wire around it. (Think flashlight beam more than spray gun)

Vendors:
I have used Vacuum-Met in Rancho Cucamonga California on and off over 30 years and they do a good job. But there may be a company closer to you.
 

Luuke

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Well, I tried looking for the company you suggested and couldn't find it. Does anyone else have any places they can recommend?
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
I have had very good results from vacuum metalizer company named Mueller Corp. Vacuum Metalizing & Spray Coating Services | EMI Shielding
They explained to me that the vacuum metallization process atomizes aluminum in a vacuum which then deposits onto your part through static electricity.

lmgill is right about the preparation of you part being spot on. Any imperfections on the surface will show up through the thin vacuum metallization layer. So sand and prime it till you are absolutely happy with the surface quality. A final coat of a primer/sealer makes a big difference too. The "sealer" part is important - any resin off gassing, solvents or oils will affect how the aluminum adheres to the surface.
 
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