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Plating on Glass

Glass Plating for Advanced Manufacturers

When one typically thinks of the surface finishing industry, there are several base materials that come to mind. Nickel, Steel, Aluminum, all of these materials are commonly plated substrates, but they are not the only materials that can be electroplated. At AOTCO, we specialize in providing finishing services for a plethora of metals and metal alloy substrates, as well as non-metallic substrates such as glass, ceramic, graphite, and plastic. 

Of all of AOTCO’s non-metallic substrate work, Glass may be our most challenging to work with. Luckily, at AOTCO, we have nearly 50 years of plating expertise along with a team of innovative engineers to help us solve any surface finishing challenge.

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Glass | Plating for Non-Conductive Substrates

A key part of the electroplating process is the use of electricity to deposit the desired material onto the surface of a substrate. However, if the substrate being plated is non-conductive (glass, plastic, and ceramic), then the desired coating will not be deposited. 

In order to properly electroplate non-conductive materials, their surface must be made conductive. This is why non-conductive substrates require an electroless nickel base layer (or another autocatalytic material) to be plated first, allowing subsequent surface finishes to be applied.

In the case of glass, the substrate is much more fragile than a majority of the traditional metal substrates commonly seen in the industry. Due to its fragility, the glass plating process can become even more complex than its other non-conductive peers and require more attention during the process. 

Glass itself has great thermal resistance and finds a ton of usage across a multitude of industries. Many crucial biomedical and aerospace components require plated glass parts to function. Components such as diodes and vacuum tubes benefit greatly from plated glass. 

Note: Due to the complexity of the non-conductive substrate plating process, it is important to account for thickness, dimensional variation, and component draining ability (through hole).

Common Surface Finishes for Glass Include:

The list of possible uses for glass is extremely extensive. With as many uses as it has, Glass components benefit greatly from a proper surface finish. Often needing reinforced strength, aesthetic changes, or adjustments to its conductive properties, Glass can be plated with a variety of different materials. Some common materials that can be plated on glass substrates are:

  • Electrolytic Nickel
  • Electroless Nickel
  • Silver
  • Copper
  • Gold 
  • And more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of Plating Glass Substrates
It is no secret that glass is highly prone to cracking, abrasions, and other forms of wear. Much like any metallic substrate, glass receives a plethora of physical and chemical benefits after being electroplated. Some of the most notable benefits glass acquires when plated are: 
  • Increased Strength
  • Abrasion Resistance 
  • Improved Electrical Conductivity
  • Smooth, aesthetically pleasing finish
  • Make non-metallic components appear metallic
  • Improve thermal capabilities
  • And many more!
Common Industry Applications of Plated Glass
Glass is one of the most commonly used materials in all of manufacturing. From phone screens to entire buildings, Glass has been used in projects of all scales and sizes. Oftentimes, glass alone isn’t strong enough for its desired application and manufacturers will often have their glass components electroplated to improve their performance and acquire certain physical and chemical properties. Some of the most notable industry applications of plated glass include the following:
  • X-Ray Tubes
  • Diodes
  • Vacuum Tubes
  • Power Tubes
  • Glass Seals
  • And more!
For more information about plating on Glass and other surface finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.
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