a useful technology for the rapid fabrication of
objects with complex or detailed geometries,
including parts like microwave components. We use
stereolithographed parts made of a resilient
"plastic" that will later are plated with
conductive metal(s) for use as waveguides and
corrugated horn antennae.
The trouble is, it is very difficult to plate a
non-conductive surface as detailed as a microwave
horn, and previous attempts have yielded poor
results, such as non-adhesive copper plating that
fell off after cooling.
Currently, we treat the lithograph surfaces with a
series of oxidizing baths before using an
electroless nickel plating solution to apply a
uniform coating of nickel. Below is a nickel
plated stereolitographed sample and a plating bath
that has "plated out" after use.