Metalizing is a general term used to refer to the process of applying metallic substance on surfaces that are not metallic. The first instance of this process was witnessed in 1835 when Justus Von coated a glass surface with metallic silver. This made glass one of the earliest materials to be metalized. The introduction of ABS plastic led to rapid growth of this process along with new remarkable improvements up to where the technology is today.
Since some substrates are usually not conductors, part of the process involves making them into conductors prior to plating them. If the substrate object is a plastic, chemical etching should be performed through any appropriate method. Among the most fitting processes utilized in etching plastics is to have them dipped into hot mixtures of sulfuric acid and chromic acid. Substrates are then sensitized and activated after etching. In Los Angeles metalizing is greatly developed and refined chiefly with the setting in of vacuum metalizing.
Vacuum metalizing involves evaporating a metal material inside a vacuum chamber hence the name. The fumes of evaporated metal then settle down on the substrate to be coated forming a very uniform metalized surface. This process is also called thermal evaporation and aluminum is the most commonly used metal. Thermal evaporation falls under a group of methods known as physical vapor deposition, PVD.
So as to vaporize the metals utilized for thermal evaporation, a continuous supply of heat is necessary. Therefore exists several heating methods that could be employed to supply the heat. Among the techniques are resistance heating, electron beam, and plasma. Aluminium is the most utilized metal and the process takes place inside a vacuum metallizer, which is evacuated to around 0.0005mbar.
Aluminum wire is fed into the machine through separate inter-metallic evaporators. Most metallizers in use are heated through resistance. It takes a few seconds for aluminum to melt and evaporate. The substrate gets supported or held on chilled process drums and passes over the source of evaporation at varied speeds. Typical velocity is a thousand meters per minute. That velocity permits for a thin uniformly spread coat to be formed on the substrate.
Process of metalizing has several applications and advantages in the world currently. First, it enhances the aesthetic value of an object to a great extent. Several different colors can be incorporated into the process to make the final product look very pleasing and attractive. The process can also be used to make substrates that control light reflection or transmission, save power, and conduct electricity.
Theft and counterfeiting can also be fought through substrates and items produced using this process. The coat produced through deposition of thick layers of condensing metal vapor can serve as vapor barriers and heat shield. Most of the mirrors used in some of the most famous telescopes such as Hale telescope were produced using thermal evaporation.
Metalizing does have some limitations especially to people who perform it. For example, fumes resulting from evaporating metals are highly risky to lungs when breathed in huge quantities. The high temperatures involved also present a danger to operator of the metalizer. This demands use of appropriate safety gear and adherence of all safety precautions enacted.
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Author: Essie OsbornThis author has published 208 articles so far.