Metal Plating
(for Plastic)



Compatible Materials

Metal Plating (for plastic) Guide


Sculpteo offers two different metalization options, PVD and electroplating. Both of these surface treatments apply a metallic layer to your 3D printed object. They will also improve the life of the object with, depending on the metal, better resistance to abrasion, scratches, deformations, oxidation corrosion, acids, etc. However, these two plating options have their own particularities and won’t be used for the same purposes.

The main difference between these two metalization options is the thickness of the metallic layer added to your object:  +/- 2µ for PVD, and  +/- 150-200μm for electroplating.


  • PVD

The PVD technique adds a thin metallic layer to your object. The advantage of this technique is that it can be used on flexible plastic parts made of TPU. The metallic layer is really thin, up to 2µ, allowing to preserve the details of your 3D printed part.

Perfectly suited for:

Flexible parts


metal plating
  • Electroplating

Electroplating is an electrolytic deposition that covers an object with a metallic layer. The metallic layer is about 150-200μm and won’t suit really detailed objects, but will give your part an homogeneous surface. This plating solution will give a cold touch to your 3D printed parts.

Perfectly suited for:

Aesthetic parts with a cold touch

Electromagnetic shielding

Protection for functional parts

metal plating


  • PVD

This is physical vapor deposition. The process is carried out under vacuum and transforms the solid material, the metal target, into vapour, which then condenses to cover the substrate, namely the plastic part.

The metal is heated to its melting point so that it evaporates and eventually comes into contact with the element to be coated, which is located at a much lower temperature. This allows the metal to return to its solid form and envelop the object in question.

Working under vacuum makes it possible to obtain a thin layer of pure and regular metal. Without any impurities, the risk of oxidation and irregularities on the surface of the object is avoided.

There are several PVD processes (by evaporation, sputtering or ionization), the one offered by Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service for your 3D printed parts is the sputtering process.


  • Electroplating

Electroplating is an electrolytic deposition that covers an object with a metallic layer. By electrolysis, metal is transferred from an anode (the part containing the metal to be plated) to a cathode (the part to be plated).

For a plastic, we spray a conductive layer then we hang it with a hook or we aim the part against a metal support connected to a negative charge. The whole is dipped in baths to carry out the electroplating. It is possible to apply several layers. To obtain a smooth surface, the part must be polished between each bath, this will allow the homogeneity of the deposit.

A low thickness allows an aesthetic appearance, solidifies a part and facilitates cleaning. A slightly greater thickness allows a particular resistance to wear and corrosion. Some materials, such as chrome, will not tarnish.

Delivery Time

The delivery time will depend on the volume and number of parts you order. This information will be communicated to you while placing your order.

How to order your parts with metal plating?

This finishing option is available through our online 3D printing platform. You will get the opportunity to ask for a quote after uploading your 3D file.

The maximum size for plating your models is limited by the physical size of 3D plating tanks. Your designs must respect this maximum size in order to be printed:

  • PVD

380 x 1100 mm

  • Electroplating

Matte nickel 6800 x 3800 x 2400 mm

Shiny nickel 2700 x 1400 x 1000 mm

Standard copper 2700 x 2400 x 1400 mm

Shiny copper 2700 x 1400 x 1000 mm

  • For both of these metallic plating, you will be asked to point out an area where our team will place a hook on your part. This hook is necessary during the plating process and will leave some scars when removed.

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