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Chrome looking plastic metallisation on a new level. Under the technology brand ePD™, Oerlikon Balzers develops integrated services, equipment and solutions for the chrome looking metallisation of plastic parts.

Chrome looking plastic metallisation on a new level.

ePD™ is the short form for “embedded PVD for Design parts” and signifies an environment-friendly and future-oriented coating procedure. Whenever high-end metallic surfaces on plastic parts are requested - ePD™ is the clean alternative compared to today’s electro plating technologies. No harmful chemicals such as Cr6+ are used in the process. The ePD™ process is environmentally friendly due to low energy consumption and the avoidance of special waste. ePD™ coated parts are recyclable.

The new process is described as “embedded PVD for Design parts”, since the metallisation effect is sandwiched between two layers of UV lacquer. The first layer is the primer, or base coat, which serves to equalise irregularities on the surface of the injection-moulded plastic substrate. On top of this comes the actual inline PVD, which uses magnetron sputtering in a vacuum chamber for an exceptionally stable coating with high microstructure density-with no harmful ions left behind. To protect the metallized coating, a final UV coating (top coat) is applied which is extremely durable, stable and, fast-drying.

ePD™ is REACH-conform

The most notable improvement provided by ePD™ is the avoidance of harmful Cr3+ and Cr6+. As a result, the coating is REACH-conform both in production and disposal. In accordance with other EU regulations, the coated parts are recyclable.

Competitiveness based on innovation

ePD™ technology offers a large number of desirable surface properties for plastic parts with chrome look. The nanotechnology in fact offers far more desirable properties than conventional metal platings. A broad scope of new features for new applications can be utilised that raise the value of the end product by combining design with functionality. Useful new functions can be integrated into ePD™ coated parts, and therefore are attractive to designers, manufacturers and end users in the automotive, sanitary and consumer goods industry.

Environmental-friendly

ePD™ is the environmental-friendly alternative to today’s conventional plating methods. No Cr6+ are used in the process. As a result, ePD is REACH-conform both in production and disposal. In accordance with other local regulations, the coated parts are recyclable.

Colour flexibility

Beyond the classic chrome colour, ePD™ offers a large variety of colour options, from mirror chrome to graphite chrome and many other colour shades, giving more flexibility in design.

Corrosion resistance (Russian mud test):

ePD™ coatings provide enhanced corrosion resistance – including against Russian mud, which contains highly corrosive salts, typically used to thaw ice on roads in Russia and Canada. ePD™ coated parts withstand Russian mud tests, a very important feature for automotive exterior plastic metallisation.

Safety features

Coatings applied using ePD™ technology on soft and flexible base materials reduce or eliminate sharp breaking edges that are found with other metallic coatings. ePD™ coated parts qualify for safety-relevant parts in car interiors and open up new horizons in automotive exterior parts design.

Large variety on substrate materials

ePD™ is not limited to PC/ABS and ABS substrate material and therefore gives more design flexibility. With ePD™, many other polymers such as PC, TPE, PA and ASA may also be metallised. For example, a polymer with a flexible structure can be metallised and bent or stretched to a certain degree without fracturing.

Day/Night design

Laser etching allows controlled coating removal for day/night design or, for example, for light emitting buttons which can have letters or icons laser etched into them.

Radar-transparency

The inbound and outbound radar transparency of metallised plastic parts is now possible. For example, for safety distance control solutions integrated into the front grills of cars or lane departure warning sensors in the exterior trim.

Capacity sensing

The integration of capacity sensing technologies in metallised plastic components offer attractive design solutions, such as door handles responding to touch or electronic control panels and sliders.

TRANSLUX® - Light-transparency

The thin ePD™ coatings can be made translucent for light sources beneath the coated part. At night and when dark, coated parts - that look metallic during the day - can provide signal lighting or back lighting.

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