Metal Plating | The Factory for 3D Printing

Metal Plating

Boosting the performance of additive manufactured components


Covering the surface of an additive manufactured part with a layer of copper and nickel drastically changes its mechanical, chemical, and electrical behavior. It allows for the creation of prototypes and manufacturing series that have exceptional properties while also saving both time and money. 
“Until we discovered the metal-plating service at Materialise, we had to manually bend metal sheets. Today, we have the luxury of using large parts in metal-plated stereolithography that are delivered in record time and are in accordance with our CAD definitions. Finally, we are able to put realistic tension onto the fabrics and foam of car seats during our trimming feasibility study.”
Yves Ciszek, project engineer at Lear Automotive in France

Benefits of metal plating

During the metal-plating process, a layer of copper (and in many cases, nickel) is electrolytically deposited on the surface of a plastic carrier that has been produced through Additive Manufacturing (stereolithography, laser sintering, or FDM) or with a mould. The thickness of these layers can be controlled and are each approximately 0.05 mm.


• Increased strength
• Increased stiffness
• Higher heat deflection
• Improved chemical resistance
• Better wear resistance
• Better conductivity


• Prototypes for complex metal parts
• Replacements for solid metal parts
• Flame retardant components
• EMC shielding
• Parts requiring resistance to humid and corrosive environments
• Parts requiring a metal appearance

Metal Plating and Mammoth Stereolithography 

Materialise’s unique Mammoth stereolithography machines build components with dimensions up to 2100 mm x 700 mm x 800 mm. By adding a composite metal lamination of copper and nickel, the stereolithography parts are given a stronger, stiffer surface with improved stability. This combination allows for the fast and affordable creation of huge prototypes with metal-like properties.

Finishing Degrees

The standard finish is a technical finish. In addition to a technical finish for purely functional components, there is a wide selection of options that range from a brushed or high-gloss nickel, copper, or chrome, to precious metals with a variety of custom finishes.