Bridging the Gap Between 3D Plastics and Metals

At RePliForm, we provide an electroplating service which works on most 3D printed plastic materials, and can greatly improve the mechanical and electrical properties of your parts. We work with our customers to develop a coating sequence which is best suited for their needs. The composite which is created after plating, fits well into a critical gap between 3D printed plastics and metals that has just started to be explored.

RePliForm has developed methods to process most 3D printed plastic materials made by almost any of the resin printing technologies currently on the market (i.e. laser or inkjet photopolymer, plastic powder sintering or fusion, filament extrusion, etc.). Additionally, RePliForm has adapted the plating process to work with the increased geometric complexity that the 3D printing world brings.

Electroplated coating can be used to improve a variety of characteristics or purposes:

  • Strength & Stiffness (lightweight)
  • Electrical & Thermal Conductivity
  • EMI Shielding/Reflective surfaces
  • Environmental Barrier (UV & Chemical)
  • Outgassing prevention
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Durability (Impact Strength)
  • Cosmetic

Electroplating is typically thought of as a cosmetic process, but it has been known for decades to reinforce and structurally stabilize plastic parts. By substituting structural electroplated coatings optimized for strength, ductility and low internal stress as opposed to cosmetics, metal clad composites are created that can be 3-5x stronger and 10-15x stiffer than common 3D printed plastic materials and can predicted with the rule of mixtures, constituent properties and their volume fractions.

Rule of Mixtures can be used to predict strength and stiffness of coated plastic materials


Rule of Mixtures predictions and measured composite strength for hard nickel and ductile Cu+ Ni coatings on a clear SLA resin.

With a high strength coating, form and fit SLA parts can be used as functional prototypes. Functional prototypes can be made durable and stable enough to be considered for low volume production even in harsh environments. Strong, stable, high resolution parts are obtained from electroplating SLA resins.


Archival SLA model built at the highest resolution and coated with a high luster copper plus nickel finish. The coating protects the model from UV and moisture plus eliminates creep so printed parts retain dimensional integrity over time.


Astronaut assembling components for microgravity smoke detector test on International Space Station. Electroplated coating made SLA parts non-flammable, improved strength and impact resistance plus provided EMI shielding on the parts.


Simple copper plated SLA wave guide provides equivalent electronic performance to a solid metal part. Complex SLA waveguides as large as 0.5 m square have been plated & tested, saving more than 80% of the metal cost on complex geometries.


Custom motorcycle console SLA trim part with owner’s initials embossed in the surface. The polished nickel finish is not only attractive, it makes the part durable and weather resistant.

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