Plating on Plastics - Adhesion Testing 2011-01-0226
Decoratively plated plastic parts continue to be in high demand. One of the essential and challenging features of these finished goods is the adhesion between the metal plating and the plastic. As is the case with any bond between metals and plastics, combating the force from dissimilar thermal growth is an ongoing concern. When a plated plastic part is frozen and the plastic contracts, the failure mode for the plating manifests as a blister or “worm track”. On the other hand, when high heat causes plating failures from growth of the plastic, the problem is one of cracking in the plating.
In this study, two methods are discussed that provide insight into the strength of the bond between the metal plating and the ABS and ABS+PC plastics. Peel testing is one means to evaluate the strength of the plating to plastic bond. Peel testing methodology and results are reported for both ABS and ABS+PC samples. A second means to evaluate the bond strength is through thermal cycle testing. Data show that starting with a cold cycle first causes more plating adhesion failures than starting with a hot cycle first. Ultimately, better methods for evaluating the peel adhesion and robustness of plated plastic parts are desired.