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Strength from Metal: Strategies and Use Cases for Electroplating SLA Parts

Read on to learn how engineers are adding metal to resin 3D prints, and why hybrid metal parts can open doors to a surprising range of applications, including (but not limited to) end-use strength and durability.

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  1. Introduction
  2. How Plating Over Plastic Works
  3. Case Study: Designing a Composite Bracket
  4. Albatross Bikes: Functional Prototyping and Badging
  5. Economics of Electroplating: Cost and Lead Time
  6. Elevated Temperature Applications
  7. Do It Yourself, Or Not?
  8. Conclusion
  9. Appendix


Plating is best known as a way to give metal parts a thin coating with different surface properties than the underlying material provides. Uses range from cosmetic, such as gold plated jewelry, to functional, such as the use of electroplated nickel or chrome to protect metal parts from corrosion. However, electroplating is not exclusively applied as a thin film over metal. Electroplating plastic 3D prints is becoming more common thanks to its unique ability to transform an easy-to-print resin part into a metal-like composite, with applications in the automotive industry, defense, and consumer product prototyping.

How Plating Over Plastic Works

Electroplating is most commonly applied to other metals, because of the basic requirement that the underlying material (the substrate) is conductive.

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