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Metallization Solutions

Impact Coatings’ solutions for plastic metallization provide unique quality control and cost efficiency, required by modern manufacturing in the plastic and automotive industries.

PVD metallization of plastic products is growing industry-wide and plays an important role in the phase-out of hazardous hexa­valent chromium used in traditional plating on plastic.

Typical uses are decorative finishing for automotive and other industries, lighting reflectors, and electrical components. Many new applications, such as radar-based driver assistance, autonomous driving, and IoT, also involve an increasing number of metallized injection molded plastic parts requiring precise coatings.

Quality and Cost Control Through Integration and Automation

The INLINECOATER™ short cycle PVD equipment enables close integration with injection molding. The cycle time of the metallization matches that of the molding machine, which allows very compact automated production cells. Quality control of the finished part can be conducted only minutes after injection molding, allowing feedback and adjustments that maximize production yields.

A limited initial investment, together with the compact cell layout, make the metallization solution suitable for many plastic injection molding operations. For increased volumes and new products, capacity is easily scaled by adding production cells.

The INLINECOATER™ is prepared for industry automation by supporting the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) machine-to-machine communication protocol commonly used in the plastic industry.

INLINECOATER™ IC500 in production cell for automotive lighting reflectors (Courtesy of Iskra Mehanizmi)

Metallized Components for Advanced Vehicle Radar Systems

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and functions for autonomous vehicles use radar frequencies and involve critical metallized plastic components. The frequency band from 76 GHz to 81 GHz has been accepted by most countries for automotive radars.

The number of antennas on vehicles is increasing rapidly. The drive for low weight and low cost favors the development of metallized plastic antennas, instead of metal parts. This trend is not limited to automotive, as the advantages are also valid for IoT.

Radomes, which protect against weather and debris, are placed in front of radar electronics. On vehicles, the radome often has a decorative function as well. An example is the emblem in the front grill, which on new cars covers a vehicle radar. The emblem should still have a metallic decorative appearance, but without any significant attenuating effect on the transmitted radar signal. This disqualifies most traditional metallization solutions and materials.

The metallized components are typically manufactured in large volumes using plastic injection molding, combined with additional advanced production processes. Quality and cost control are critical.

Integrating and automating production lines while incorporating continuous quality feedback is crucial. This is well understood by leading plastic and automotive component suppliers globally. Impact Coatings delivers the highest quality and most efficient metallization solutions to these demanding producers.

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