The main objective of the proposed project is to develop a novel surface pre-treatment method for chrome plating on a broad range of plastics. The majority of industries worldwide use a hexavalent chrome based pre treatment Its major disadvantage is that hexavalent chromium Cr VI is carcinogenic. Therefore the chrome plating industry is coming under increasing pressure from EU environmental health and safety legislations and many companies are facing a bleak future unless sustainable and cost effective solutions are discovered.
The project aims to develop a new process based on a molecular self-assembly technology. SAM developed at laboratory level in Spain in the manufacture of organic sensors that eliminates the need for chemical etching and electroless nickel plating and which provides a stable and secure surface suitable for subsequent chrome plating operations.
In line with the general objectives of the EU and FP6 this will achieve the following specific objectives:
- Eliminate carcinogenic chromic acid from the pre treatment process
- Decrease processing time and the number of plating rinsing tanks
- Offer greater product flexibility as the process will not be limited to a single polymer such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ABS
- Reduce waste-water and chemicals due to fewer process steps
- Reduce the cost of the plating process due to elimination of the expensive palladium catalyst and electroless nickel coating operations Increase process stability compared to classical wet chemical metallization
- Maintain the performance whilst lowering the cost of the chrome plating process
The anticipated outcome of the project will be an optimised process for electroplating on plastic materials that is both more economical and environmentally friendly compared to the conventional plating process.
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