An alternative to chromeplating plastic parts
I am restoring my aunt’s 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III and am wondering where I can get the chrome plastic accents on the dash redone. I have been told that plastic can be chromed using the same process that they use for steel bumpers. Is that true, and is it expensive? What are the alternatives?
It is true that plastic can be chromed using essentially the same process as is used for metal parts, but it is expensive. The more common and less expensive way to “chrome” interior dash components is to employ a process that uses vaporized aluminum powder and a vacuum system. It starts with a coat of primer, and then the vaporized aluminum goes on. The item is then clear-coated for protection and maximum luster.
There also are kits sold by The Eastwood Company and others that make it possible to do a passable job at home. I say passable, because without careful polishing and strict cleanliness, the result will look amateurish.
There also is a chrome paint that can be applied and clear-coated that looks pretty good and is easy to use.
The aluminizing process is often used for toys and is fine for interior knobs and bezels, etc. but it will not hold up for exterior items. Many contemporary cars have external plastic decorative items on them that are in fact chromed, but the newest process requires professional level polishing plus a 20- to 30-step process to complete the job.
The older way is approximately the same as is used for metals, and done properly it requires polishing, copper plating, then nickel plating before the chrome is applied. There are toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and processes involved in either method, so you won’t want to try them at home. One service that comes highly recommended for interior knob and bezel restoration is:
Chrome Tech USA 2314Ravenswood Road Madison, WI 53711 | chrometechusa.com
For DIY kits, paints, and powder coating supplies contact: