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chroming Lego

rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
Hello all.

I have been doing some research on chroming Lego but can't seem to find much on it. I've heard that vacuum metallizing is often used for chroming plastic parts, does anyone know if this would work for Lego? Or what kind of machines and materials are required for the process?

Some input would be much appreciated.
jpsirois

Comments

  • CrowkillersCrowkillers Member Posts: 757
    edited September 2013
    It most definitely works for Lego. I've been getting wheels chromed for almost 10 years now... This builder uses a lot of custom chrome parts in his already amazing models... http://www.flickr.com/photos/bricksonwheels

    Also check out www.chromebricks.com
  • samiam391samiam391 A Log Cabin in KY, United StatesMember Posts: 4,299
    Did someone say chrome?

    Feel free to stop by and use my chroming factory out back. ;o)
    y2joshjasorBrickDancerBumblepants
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,314
    You'll find that not many people share their recipes, since there is a lot of money to be made selling chromed parts.

    Also bear in mind that a lot of "chromed" custom figures sold on ebay are spray painted.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    Needless to say, I'm all ears on this topic. 8^b...
  • plantmanplantman Member Posts: 97
    You can absolutely vacuum metalize Lego - the deposition process can be done to almost anything, even paper. Chrome, gold and other colors are available (I've seen red, blue and green - I'm sure there are others) It's a similar process to anodizing but doesn't require conductivity. I remember a demo where the sales-rep chrome plated his business cards before handing them out. The coating is so thin the inked letters are still legible. There are plenty of companies that offer this service but it might not be economical for a few parts.
    catwrangler
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,314
    It is possible to electrochemically plate Lego parts. The difficult part is making the surface conductive. This is possible but it requires some chemical knowledge. The problem I found with it is that the metal layer is not all that stable. It is fine for display, but not for handling too much. An advantage is you can plate with virtually any metal you like if you look up their electrochemical potentials and get your plating solutions right.
  • plantmanplantman Member Posts: 97
    Handling is the key issue with electro plated plastic. Since plastic does not conduct (aside from some more exotic impregnated industrial plastics) a intermediary film is usually applied to the plastic to provide the pathway - or it can be etched. The problem that arises is the bond is not as good. If you had plated toys in the 70's, you might remember how cool they looked when you got them - and then as you played with them, all the shiny bits flaked off. This method does have a huge advantage - it's fairly easy to get set up at home with minimal material/cost. And as CCC stated - you can use any metal you can think of to form the plating. I've seen people who have used plastic picnic coolers, a power source and the right chemical solutions doing this in their basements. No idea where the solutions come from though....
  • klatu003klatu003 Hobbiton, Shire, Middle EarthMember Posts: 721
    This discussion brings this image to mind.
    chromedigi
  • plantmanplantman Member Posts: 97
    I did some quick research on this and I found something new (to me at least - been a couple decades since I was college, lol). You can buy conducting spray paint for plastic! Problem solved. I would wager this would even provide a more stable substrate for the plating. If anyone ever goes down this road, let us know how it goes! Lego is small enough you could set up a plating cell in a plastic cup.
  • rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
    So what would be the most cost-effective way to get the best looking chrome? I don't want to use paint as its not actually chrome and it requires several coats, and we want as thin a later as possible. Conductive spray sounds useful, what kind of money are we talking with an electro-plating machine? Or a vacuum metallizing machine?
  • CrowkillersCrowkillers Member Posts: 757
    edited September 2013
    The professional chrome plating procedure isn't cheap(as far as investing in an entire system for your home)... You're also going to be dealing with toxic chemicals and such...
  • CrowkillersCrowkillers Member Posts: 757
    CCC said:

    You'll find that not many people share their recipes, since there is a lot of money to be made selling chromed parts.

    Also bear in mind that a lot of "chromed" custom figures sold on ebay are spray painted.

    That is true.. When I first was looking into getting things chromed back in 2004/2005, it was like a big secret... But of course doing simple internet searched revealed everything that was needed to know...

  • rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
    And while we're on the subject of chrome, for those of you who wave bought from Chrome Block City and Chromebricks on Bricklink, who has better chrome?
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,314
    I have one item from chromebricks (a brickforge helmet) and it is still nicely chromed after 18 months or so.
  • plantmanplantman Member Posts: 97
    This topic got me interested, but after doing some more research it seems like it could be hazardous. I found a site that has the chemicals and procedure, but the chromium solutions are listed as "highly volatile, highly carcinogenic" not to mention acidic. The chemicals also have to be disposed of properly. If you are seriously considering purchasing equipment I would assume you want to do high-volume plating. At that point you would need a separate building or shed as well. I worked in a factory that did plating (nickel and zinc) and I can tell you the smell is overwhelming.
    rancorbait
  • rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
    I guess I'll just have to stick to bricklink then :-(
  • boazalboazal IsraelMember Posts: 8
    Hello all. I have been doing some research on chroming Lego but can't seem to find much on it. I've heard that vacuum metallizing is often used for chroming plastic parts, does anyone know if this would work for Lego? Or what kind of machines and materials are required for the process? Some input would be much appreciated.
    The most common technique is electroplating. It works well on ABS plastic and hence on Lego bricks. The coating is extremely durable and does't peal off easily (and looks amazing).

     
  • ninjaguyninjaguy Long IslandMember Posts: 1
    Hey Guys!

    I read, some of you has a problem, with Lego chroming.
    This company works well, fast, and on good prices. Check their site: en.cromkontakt.hu
  • vizzitorvizzitor IrelandMember Posts: 256
    Will they chrome an entire set like #21103 so we can go back in time to 2013 when this question was originally posted?
    MaffyD
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 18,314
    Have you actually used them for lego?

    As their website says:

    Our technology allows the electroplating of:

    • iron
    • brass
    • zamak
    • aluminium
    • steel substrates
    They seem to focus on electroplating only, for which a base metal layer is necessary. I cannot see any mention of chroming plastics on their website or mention that they can do the chemistry required to pre-coat the plastic with a metallic layer.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,529
    Best way I have found to get Chrome parts is to order them from Bricklink.
    https://store.bricklink.com/bricks4all?p=bricks4all#/shop?o={"showHomeItems":1}

    I ordered several parts from bricks4all, and the quality of the parts is excellent.
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