Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Here's a wierd one.

Vacuum sputtering. Basically, you put whatever you want coated in a vacuum chamber, and in that chamber is an electrode and target. An electron beam is fired at the target (this is no big deal, your TV does it all the time) and part of the target vaporizes and clouds in the chamber. The end result is that your item gets coated in a very very fine layer of whatever material the target is made of.

Now, this wouldn't hold any real advantages over electroplate or other processes for metal parts...

...but vacuum sputtering can coat *plastic*. Chrome glock, anyone? Platinum plated 1911s? a nice nickel Walther P99?


Blogger Marc said...

You can electroless nickel plate plastic in a tank, looks like chrome.

The fun starts when the plastic flexes and separates from the plating. Then the metal cracks and slices you like the little razor blades it's become.

You can have the same problem with too thick plating on weaker metals too.

BTW, isnt the process you described called vapor deposition?

7:24 PM  
Blogger Dr. StrangeGun said...

It is, it's also called metallization or thin film deposition.

The neat part about vacuum deposition is it happens slowly enough and in such a small scale that there's a really firm bond between the layer and it's base material, and it's barely thick enough to not be transparent.

This is the same process, after all, that they use to coat surfaces for electron microscope imaging.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Or to coat cutting tools. You can use this process to deposit compounds as well.

The problem with coating with a material much stronger than the base material is that it is very likely to delaminate, so to speak. Even with perfect adhesion the weak base material can fail, essentially break, at the junction leaving you with pieces of coating flaking off.

10:42 AM  

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