CBM Process: an alternative for chromic acid etching in plating of plastics
The Cuptronic CBM Process is a new and better adhesion promotion method to prepare plastic parts for metallization. It completely replaces chromic acid etching, making the process safe and environmentally friendly, while also allowing a broader choice of plastics.
The common process for chrome plating of plastics includes a preparation step, where the surface is treated to make it possible for an initial conductive layer to be applied. This step normally involves chromic acid etching, which means usage of CrVI. The Cuptronic CBM (Covalent Bonded Metallization) Process eliminates the need for chromic acid etching and thus enables a complete replacement of CrVI in electroplating.
Instead of etching cavities in the surface, the CBM process chemically creates customized polymers, which grafts from the substrate surface. These polymer structures create the texture to which the metal layer can adhere to. In practice, it is a three-step process, as depicted in the illustrations shown below. For more info, please refer to the downloadable info package.
Cuptronic has a small-scale production site with a capacity of 50,000 PCB panels a month, in operation since 2017. The first automated production line prototype is scheduled to be implemented for a European Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry. There are also ongoing discussions with major sanitary companies.
The first full scale industrial production line is expected to be operational by end of 2021.