CORDIS - EU research results

Toxic Free metallization process for plastic surfaces

Project description

Paving the way for a plating on plastics process

Recently the car industry has been using plating on plastics (PoP) technology for various benefits. These range from reduced weight and cost to their corrosion resistance and aesthetic advantages. Overall, they result in vehicles that require less fuel consumption and cost less to develop. Unfortunately, the process used for PoP is dangerous for workers and the environment and offers low-quality coatings, which are substantial disadvantages for companies using this process. The EU-funded FreeMe project proposes a solution through the development of a novel technology for the metallisation of polymeric surfaces. This technology will use resins with suitable nickel-based precursor additions that offer improved coating as well as a safer process for workers and the environment.


Technological advancement has significantly transformed plating methods by introducing metal coatings on plastic substrates. Plating on plastics (PoP) has emerged as an effective solution in a wide range of applications in the automotive, aerospace and home appliances industry. There is a high preference for plating on plastic in the automotive industry, owing to its light weight, cost effectiveness and corrosion resistance. In the automotive industry, it not only adds aesthetic value but also helps in increasing fuel efficiency by reducing the overall vehicle weight.
Decorative chrome, copper and nickel plating is quite popular on various interior and exterior plastic parts such as knobs, handles, logos, emblems, trims, etc. ABS, PC, PET, Nylon, and PEEK are widely used polymers in plastic plating.
However, the current processes for PoP present some significant disadvantages related to environmental sustainability, occupational safety and quality of coatings i.e the use of hexevalent chromium in the etching process and the use of Palladium in the activation step.
FreeMe project proposes two revolutionaries approaches for the metallization of polymeric (plastic or resins) surfaces without the use of hexavalent chromium and palladium.
The first technology is based on the use of resins (e.g. epoxy-acrylate resins) with the additions of suitable nickel based precursors. This composite resin can be deposited uniformly in the surface of the plastic object either by spray deposition methods or other simple deposition methods. The nickel precursors are afterwards reduced utilizing appropriate reduction agents (e.g. NaBH4) creating the necessary nuclei for the next step of electroless deposition for the formation of the conductive layer.


Net EU contribution
€ 645 625,00
VIA PO 0027
20089 Rozzano

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Nord-Ovest Lombardia Milano
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 645 625,00

Participants (11)