”A shiny solution for 3D printed plastics” was introduced in Nature Index


Selective electroless plating of 3D-printed plastic structures for three-dimensional microwave metamaterials

Journal: Applied Physics Letters

Published: 2017-11-02

DOI: 10.1063/1.4986203

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 5

Research Highlight

A shiny solution for 3D printed plastics

Submerging 3D printed plastics in silver nitrate is a cheap and easy way to coat plastics in a metallic film.

Plastic is the most common material used in 3D printing, but as it’s an insulator, the printed shapes have limited uses. Coating plastic with metal can increase its potential uses, but it is difficult to uniformly cover the entire surface of complex 3D shapes.

A team including researchers from Okayama University dipped printed plastic in a solution of tin chloride to prepare the surface to attract metals. They then submerged the shapes in liquid silver nitrate and found that silver coated the entire surface. When they blasted the shiny surface with microwaves, they found it reflected more than 85 per cent of the radiation.

Such simple solutions could enable the quick and easy production of 3D printed waveguides — tiny tubes that funnel microwaves — or antennas for use in communication.

Supported content

1. Appl. Phys. Lett. 111, 183102 (2017). doi: 10.1063/1.4986203