Metal Coating

At Protolabs we offer a selection of Metal Coating finish options to suit your prototype or part material.  For personalised technical advice on the suitability of these process for your project, please contact one of our expert Customer Sales Engineers on +44 (0) 1952 683047.

Metal Coating and Galvanoforming  

Thanks to the positive properties of electroplating, the process enables the production of parts with a special surface (commonly referred to as chromium plating).  The finished part’s surface— or area on the part—is then coated with copper or chrome. The application of this service is widely used in in the automotive sector or in electrical engineering.  When ‘metal coating’ takes place, a part or component is coated with a metal layer.  If the component (original part) is removed so that only the metal part remains, it is called Galvanoforming.


Finishing using Galvanoforming

Galvanoforming is a metal forming process that forms parts through electrodeposition or electroplating on a model, known in the manufacturing industry as a mandrel. Conductive (metallic) mandrels are pre-treated chemically to allow subsequent separation of the finished galvanoform, whereas non-conductive (glass, silicon, plastic) mandrels require the deposition of a conductive layer. Conductive layers can be deposited chemically, or using vacuum deposition techniques. This results in surfaces with several μm in the millimetre range.

Metal Coating finish advantages

With this method, 3D printed parts with very complex geometries can be coated.  Therefore it is particularly suitable for individual pieces and prototypes.  Using the electroplating technique, an accurate finish for highly detailed parts can be achieved.

Application examples

  • Thin and lightweight components with a very high level of detail, the surface or shape of which cannot be milled or milling is too costly to be viable.
  • Coating of finished components for shielding against electric or magnetic fields
  • Finishing of surfaces with chrome in prototype construction (e.g. customer presentation)

Facts and figures

  • 3 - stage process
  • Original model produced by Stereolithography or Selective Laser Sintering (including finishing)
  • Duplex copper/ nickel plating (two layer) - modified electroplating
  • Manual finishing of surfaces according to customer requirements

Maximum part size:

  • Technical (nickel): 1400mm x 600mm x 600mm
  • Gloss / Optical / copper/ Nickel / chromium: 1000mm x 600mm x 600mm

Layer thickness: 0.01mm - 1mm (after consultation)

Request More Information


If you would like to discuss our capabilities in more detail, please complete the form. One of our representatives will contact you.