Understanding Vacuum Metalizing Process and Applications
Vacuum metalizing is a plating process for all metal machining parts. The process involves plating a metal onto a plastic surface in a vacuum chamber. At Creatingway, we use the technique in the making of:
- Reflective films for lenses
- Automobile headlights
- Decorative coating of materials
- Surface modification
- Functional film for aluminum coating plating of records
The vacuum metalizing process takes place in a vacuum chamber. Any presence of metal vapor remains inside the vacuum chamber. Hence, this step makes the process environmentally friendly thus convenient to industries.
What is Vacuum Metalizing Process?
Vacuum metalizing takes place in a vacuum chamber. The process allows the creation of a metallic layer onto plastic and metal surfaces. We use physical vapor deposition in coating metals like aluminum. The metal wire gets heated at 1500 Celsius to achieve evaporation. Then, we lower the boiling point of the metal parts by decreasing the pressure. A lowered pressure allows a liquid shift of condensed to a gaseous state. So, the metal vapor produced can make metallic or decorative coatings.
The Best Metal for Vacuum Metalizing
Metals like copper, aluminum, and silver have good electrical conductivity. Silver conducts electrical current better than other metals. However, silver costs more. Copper is prone to oxidation and corrosion. Thus, we use aluminum due to the metal’s unique properties. For instance, better reflectivity and low cost.
The Vacuum Metalizing Process
Ideally, the vacuum metalizing process heats a material till it vaporizes. There are two ways of vacuum metallization.
Vacuum Metallization Methods
Physical Vapor Deposition (Thermal evaporation)
The vacuum coating process heats the plating material, making it evaporate. We use the evaporated molecules to cover plastic surfaces. The particles deposited onto the surface form a covering layer. In addition, some notable benefits of thermal evaporation include:
- Ease of operation
- Fast and efficient film formation
Chemical Vapor Deposition (Sputtering)
Inert gas gets filled in a vacuum. Then, we run a high voltage current through the vacuum. Hence, the metal layer gets added between the plastic substrate and the metal target. Glow discharge creates electrons that excite the inert gas-producing plasma. The plasma generated knocks off atoms from the metal target. Knocked-off metal atoms then get deposited onto the plastic substrate.
What are The Steps to Follow in Vacuum Metallization?
Customized Fixtures and Clamping of Parts
We use custom jigs and fixtures to hold parts in place. This need maximizes efficiency during vacuum metalizing and painting operations. Inspection of the individual pieces is a must to avoid any defects.
A spray of a special primer improves abrasion resistance. Also, the special primer improves paint finishes leading to smooth surfaces. After priming, we place parts in a convection oven for curing.
The fixtures get placed on a turntable in the vacuum chamber. A tungsten filament evaporates the metal creating a cloud of vapor. Meanwhile, we turn the work holding fixture towards the evaporation source. The evaporation source evens up the coat to a uniform coating. Once the metallization process is over, we return to the chamber. We also remove the work holding fixture after the process.
Apply Top Coat
We depend on the coating properties of a part. On application, the topcoat improves
- chemical resistance
- moisture resistance
- wear resistance
Some great coat options include 2k polyurethane and UV-curable wear-resistance coat. Another top coating is like Teflon and ceramic coatings.
We inspect plastic parts and components for quality according to ISO 9001 standards. The inspection also aids in specifying certain requirements for a project. Also, we place a tracking label on each part for easy traceability. Thus, no error goes away undetected and we can fix them once they occur.
What are The Applications for Vacuum Metalizing?
A variety of industries use metalizing vacuum coatings. The following are some of the process’s applications:
Vacuum Metallization for Decoration
Beauty-wise, vacuum metallization adds a unique, eye-catching appearance. Metalized substrates possess a highly reflective mirror finish. Also, a combination of metalized substrate coating has a decorative effect.
Dyes can cover vacuum metalized films, giving them a unique color. Some crucial decorative materials are gold and silver wire. So, we use both metal wires in polyester films. Aluminum coats the polyester films, which we later process.
Vacuum Metallization for Insulation Applications
To increase the function of films, we use vacuum metallization. Spacecrafts that go to crucial space missions have layers of a polyamide film. We ensure that the multiple layers undergo film metallization processes. Thus, the insulation materials protecting the spacecraft are of the best quality.
Vacuum Metallization for the Reflectivity of Optical Parts
We use vacuum metallization in the making of lighting parts. Bicycle reflectors and automobiles are types of lighting parts. Automotive customers use aluminum in the mirror, polishing the surface. Later, we metalize the surface, improving its optical reflectivity.
In conclusion, We use vacuum metallization in the mass production of metal parts. Being a post finishing process, we control the process in a vacuum environment. Hence, at Creatingway, we improve any prototype. Prototypes like CNC for metallization or rapid mold metallization. We also help in advising to produce the best qualities for your projects.
Creatingway concentrates on CNC machining manufacturing, prototype machining, low-volume manufacturing, metal fabrication, and parts finishing services, providing you with the best support and services. ask us one inquire now.
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