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Thread: conductive pla

  1. #1

    conductive pla plating

    has anyone tried to electro plate conductive pla? (im sure its been done for years) Im new to 3D printing but ive been plating for years. I was wondering if conductive pla is conductive enough to plate directly in copper then nickle etc? Any problems or suggestions. If i posted in the wrong place forgive me please. This is my first visit to this site. Thanks!
    Last edited by fcycles; 11-18-2021 at 02:36 AM.

  2. #2
    That's an interesting idea. Electroforming involves applying a conductive paint to a plastic part, then immersing it in a metal salts solution with electricity applied. If the PLA is already conductive, I would expect that there would be some success, although the resistance of conductive PLA is higher than that of the conductive paint. Conductive PLA is rather expensive for experimentation. If you try it, be sure to report back.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    I was wondering if conductive pla is conductive enough to plate directly in copper then nickle etc?
    no it isn't.
    It's pretty much useless for anything worth doing.

    tried it years ago, and ended up using either a mix of grpahite powder, transparent abs and acetone.
    Or a commercial conductive 'paint' mixture.

  4. #4
    Thanks! I was hoping it would work but suspected conductive paint might work better. I guess ill wait until i have some conductive PLA scraps to use as a test. I do have a full plating line and still curious about zincating since that doesnt require conductivity than plate...but its meant for aluminum. But i dont know if itlll take. Thanks for your input!

  5. #5
    i meant zincate then plate with copper and so on, not than plate

  6. #6
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    the thing is conductive filament is simply filament with carbon - either nanotubs (expensive) or graphite (cheap) mixed into the plastic.

    But as you also need enough pla to make it useable as a printing filament, you just don't get a great deal of conductivity.

    If you put enough carbon in to make it practical - it'd be so brittle, it would be almost impossible to print with.

    There was supposed to be non-carbon based conductive filament coming out - but that was some years ago and as far as I know, it hasn't ever turned up. :-(

    I did do some copper plating, but it's just a real pita.

    I have a number of uses for an actual conductivity filament - but so far, what we have just doesn't seem to be that useful.

    I don't know how you;d make conductivie plastic, but that's whats needed. An entirely new type of material.

    this is worth a read: https://all3dp.com/2/conductive-fila...ands-compared/

    It has been a while since I tried any conductive filament, so things might have improved.

    looks like there's 2 good ones - $1000 a kg and $2000kg.

    Yeah, out of my price range lol
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 11-21-2021 at 12:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Thanks, wow i didnt realize it was that expensive. Out of my price range too

  8. #8
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    There's cheap stuff as well.
    But it does seem that where the resistivity is concerned, you very much get what you pay for.

  9. #9
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    The normal process is to plate the surface with what is known as a "strike coat" usually either copper or silver. Neither way is easy or cheap to do at home. Both involve applying several chemicals to the surface one after the other by dipping or spraying
    After this conventional electro plating is used starting with very low current because the strike coat is so thin, less than a micron in the case of silver.

    If you only want a thin decorative finish do s search for Spray chrome.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    there's a worthy project for you mate - a non-carbon based conductive filament :-)
    That doesn't cost £1000 kg :-)

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