Plating on plastics is a complex process that has attracted the interest of industry, Universities and Research Centers since the 60s. The advantages of plating on plastics include high durability, corrosion resistance and of course a final shiny polished surface with high aesthetic outcome.
Currently, the industry is applying hazardous chemical processes to activate the surface of the objects, before they are immersed in the electrolyte that will give the final finish The pretreatment process is of topmost importance because it provides good adhesion and coverage of the final coated product. The chemicals that are commonly used for the pretreatment process involve chromic acid for the etching of the surface, immersion solutions of precious metal acting as activators (Pd, Au or Pt) targeting to the conductivity of the surface. These processes usually involve highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (chromic acid) for humans and the environment while they increase the cost of production.
Within 3DPlate project, Creative nano will take advantage of its R&D team knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and electrochemical processes to explore alternative, environmentally friendly, non-toxic routes for the pretreatment process. The target is to achieve procedures that will exhibit similar results with the currently used methodologies and at the same time, reduce the time and cost of production, without affecting the quality of the final product.
The global alertness created by the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the world into a crisis that is still ahead us. Scientists and engineers from all around the world try to establish practical solutions in order to slow down the spread of the virus. 3D printing enables these kinds of on-demand solutions for a wide spectrum of needs. Following this direction, another further objective of the 3DPlate project will be to fabricate via 3D plating commont touched objects (e.g. doorknobs or handles) that will be plated with anti-viral coatings.
It is known that Cu in the atomic level interferes/reacts with the cell membrane of microbes and the outer surface of viruses leading to their decomposition. Recent studies have shown that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 survives only 4h on copper based surfaces compared with other materials such as plastics or stainless steel which survives 72h. On the other hand Cnano has already developed anti-bacterial & anti-viral metallic coatings based on the use of photocatalytic TiO2 nanoparticles. Cnano will apply such coatings with high aesthetics on 3D printed common touched objects exhibiting antiviral properties, deploying another weapon against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and other viruses and bacteria.