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Metallisation of high density polyurethane surfaces

Published Online:pp 242-264https://doi.org/10.1504/IJSURFSE.2021.118211

Electroplating onto polymeric materials is required for different purposes in various applications. Commercial polyurethanes (PU) are electrically insulator materials and durable at high temperatures. Nevertheless, the PU used in this study has a relatively higher electrical conductivity, lower thermal expansion and is a high density foam. In this work, surface metallisation of PU foam was studied to prepare the surface for subsequent electroplating processes. Surface metallisation was carried out by sensitisation, activation and electroless nickel (Ni) plating. Metallised surfaces were characterised according to surface morphologies after electrochemical Ni plating at different current densities and surface preparations. Roughness as well as electrical conductivity of the coatings was investigated. The results show that increasing current density adversely affects the surface morphology and metallisation processes enhance the surface conductivity of the foam.

Keywords

aerospace engineering, electroless plating, foam surface, metallisation, nickel coating, tool materials