Cromatipic® proves to be a fully industrialized PVD chrome plating technology for plastics components, with zero process emissions, compliant with REACh for the year past 2024 and beyond.
The coating system is based on UV-lacquer and PVD-coating which complies with the most challenging industrial test requirements. Added decorative and functional features open new and attractive user benefits. With a large coating line in operation since 2017, Hauzer proves the mature and industrialized capability of the Cromatipic® technology.
The REACh directive 1907/2006 has brought about the need to develop chrome coating processes for plastics components that fulfil high needs of the automotive industry, but work without hexavalent chrome substances. Hauzer developed Cromatipic® to be a fully capable successor technology for chrome plating on plastics.
The REACh Committee of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) decided to allow companies using chromium trioxide (CrO3) substances in electroplating on plastic parts a maximum of 7 years to reassess the availability of safer alternatives or substitute the substance earlier when possible.
With the sunset date having passed on 21. Sept 2017, the authorization to use of hexavalent chrome solutions will therefore terminate in four years from now, on 21. Sept 2024.
The rapidly/shortly approaching date of the termination now triggers the need for the qualification of succeeding technologies for chrome plating on plastics. Cromatipic® is a dual layer made of UV-lacquer and PVD chrome coating, completely free of chromium chemistry. It is a fully capable process that complies with challenging testing standards. Cromatipic® is an industrialized technology that is applied on automotive components on an ongoing basis. It has achieved numerous validation processes in long term automotive applications. At the same time, the cost efficiency is compliant with current market pricing for chrome plating on plastics parts.
Cromatipic® not only complies with REACh, but is a real zero emission process. Both Cromatipic® sub-layers, the UV-lacquer coating and the PVD process do not produce environmental emissions. The PVD chrome coating is performed under high vacuum, which does not emit any waste substances. And the lacquering process is using a solvent-free paint (100% solid content) that has no VOCs. Old solvent-paint technologies needed an added regenerative thermal oxidization (RTO) process to destroy hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such added burning off process is not needed with lacquer used in Cromatipic® technology – which complies with local and international environment regulations about VOCs emission. Therefore, attaining operational approval for a Cromatipic® coating line is easy.
Automotive test specifications
Being a qualified future chrome plating technology for plastic parts, means to pass the most challenging automotive test conditions. “Cromatipic® bright” was developed to be compliant with TL-226 and TL-528, the lacquer/plating test specifications of VW for interior and exterior applications. For example, part of TL-226 is the hydrolysis test where the coating passes test conditions of 72h of 90 °C at 95 % relative humidity, without change of appearance or change in adhesion and scratch resistance. Another fulfilled test under TL226 is the crock meter test, conducted with 2000 strokes.
Cromatipic® is developed to be utilized in large scale – as the number one successor of electroplating in the chrome plating on plastics. This also relates to the cost viewpoint. Hauzer´s facility for Cromatipic® coating service offers coating pricing that typically is in line with the coating prices of Cr(III) based electroplating. The facility near Barcelona is fully automated and capable of 3-shift operation. Customers can outsource coating service or – in combination – can source injection moulded parts with Cromatipic® coating.
The line is set up for large capacity and can be used for large parts, up to 1500mm length. 3-dimensional parts can be coated up to a largest cross section diameter of 200mm. The process that includes stationary and continuous coating process steps allows rotation and non-rotational positioning of substrates.
The chrome colour is of interest for automotive designers. Cromatipic® coatings perform high process related colour uniformity which is reliable and guarantees high repeatability from batch to batch. Its colour was approved for numerous automotive applications by leading OEMs.
Added decorative and functional features
Beyond chrome colour coatings, one can also deposit metallic colours that are clearly differentiated from chrome colour. Dark grey, anthrazite, brown, golden/brass, and black coatings can be deposited with downstream PVD processes. Gloss options include “bright” or “matte” are realized by using different UV-lacquers.
Cromatipic® technology also opens new possibilities for the automotive designer. One of the new versions of Cromatipic® coating provides the option of illumination effect of chrome plated areas. By choice, components can work as a light source when backlit, or as a decorative
chrome component when not backlit. The illumination can be controlled to be on selective areas such as symbols or lines, or on the entirety of the component.
The coating process works similar to the Cromatipic® coating on plastics. The illumination feature is realized by using translucent plastics material, translucent UV lacquer and a semi translucent chromium layer. The degree of light translucency can be determined by the parameters of the PVD chrome coating process. Characters or symbols are implemented through a laser etching process. The feature of Cromatipic® translucent can be used in car interior to display decorative light or in the exterior for light indicators such as on chrome mirror housings.
Cromatipic® offers also previously unseen geometric flexibility of finished parts. While electroplated thin and fragile frames are often subject to breakage during the final application assembly, the lacquer based Cromatipic® is extremely flexible, will not likely break during assembly which avoids scrap at a late section of the value chain.
With the coating facility near Barcelona, Hauzer demonstrates the technical and commercial feasibility of Cromatipic® technology. But beyond the operation of the coating facility, Hauzer offers complete turn key coating lines. The engineers at the Hauzer headquarter in the Netherlands offer Cromatipic® coating lines as a fully automated system with CO2 cleaning, UV-lacquering, UV-curing, PVD coating in a Metalliner®; an in-line PVD coating system. The turn key scope of delivery comprises also equipment for the peripheral processes such as conveyor, handling robots, clean air supply, power supplies, lacquer supply, fixtures, cleaning unit for of fixtures and more. Being a PVD
equipment manufacturer with a global footprint, Hauzer can utilize its global service organization to service Cromatipic® equipment.
Hauzer is always set up to welcome interested customers in their coating facility near Barcelona to get more information and to view the Cromatipic® coating process.
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