This is going to be a DIY for 99% of the Do It Yourselferss out there. , meaning anyone can build it, this Kit will be assembled with off the shelf products as to keep it as simple as possible , it can also be made with Raw materials which I have done also(will not go into details this time). I built a similar kit about three years ago(posted in a different forum), but recently but recently I found about this site after looking many good instructables for 3D Printers(I will be building a very very frugal basic/Simplistic kit to coat 3D Prints with Silver, Copper and Gold, I will publish it here when I am done)..
I publish this here because I just dont see Budget Friendly Spray On Chrome System from the Big Companies, some how you need to buy their Huge expensive machines and super expensive chemicals.
What is Spray On Chrome?
Spray On Chrome is nothing more than creating a front surface mirror on substrates other than glass, its not real chrome its Silver a thin coat of silver, electroless deposition of silver(Autocatalytic plating)
Step 1: Chemicals/Coating Needed
as I said earlier, This is going to be a kit that you can build with OF The Shelf products, so what chemicals do you need?
Spray Silver chemicals(the least expencive one option, they are concentrated and will cover about 200 esquare feet which is more than enough for you to learn, get the hang of it and then become an expert just for $80
Tin for Silver Concentrate($9)
Waste Treatment Kit($16) (we cant forget about mother nature)
Coating(Optional as you can use your own if you like, I use Sherwin Williams 2k like a uni coat system, that is I use it as base for the silver to stick to it and as clear to protect the silver, you can even use Duplicolor System like Primer/Glossy Black/Clear Coat or their Metal Cast system as I have done in the past too, just make sure the glossy black has cured for a few days)
When I was Building my system a few years back Angel Gilding hadn't create their own "Spray On Chrome" two part system so I built mine using their "Spray Silver" three part system, but it works very well too(you can try their two part system) I wanted to see how good it was so I also Purchased a very similar system that was sold by Alsa Corp(it was $299 at the time I purchased it, now its $500) http://www.alsacorp.com/products/chromefx/ my testing concluded that both systems gives you superb finish but if you calculated the Square Feet per Dollar amount this DIY is about 20 times more affordable.
Step 2: Hardware Need
Hardware for chemicals
Stain Magic dual Chamber bottle(get atleast 2, about $20 a piece)
3 hand triger sprayer and a hand held presure sprayer
hand held pressure sprayer($10)
if you dont have a small compressor and an air bursh/spray gun you can use preval sprayer(thats what the Alsa kit came with, it works very good)($10)
Hair Dryer(0$ if your wife's hair dryer)
Step 3: Stage One: Prep/Primer/BaseCoat
this is about the most important part of the 3 Stage system(Basecoat, Silver, Top Coat) remember how we are trying to imitate a glass mirror? well this is it, make it or bust it..
1. Sealer: if you are going to silver a piece of wood/rock/Plaster you need to seal it first
2. Primer if you are going to silver Metals or plastics, plastic friendly primers are a must, and if you are going to be using it over bending flexible pastic then using Krylon fusion for plastics is a must(I have tested it and works like a charm)
3. Base Coat/UniCoat.. you can use either a single Stage 2k Urethane(super high gloss) or Basecoat/Clear Coat sytem as a base for the Silver to be deposited, any color is good(black, white, Silver), if you are going to use Duplicolor or any other spray can manufacturer you must use their entire system(primer, single stage base and final topcoat) dont use wood polyurethanes.
Step 4: Silvering, Cleaning and Wetting Agent Stage
another Complex stage that must be done as laid out, Di water($5 per gallon at walmart) for chemicals and rinsing is need it, without it you wont be able to Silver at all
1.Cleaning: this must be done before anything, always use safety latex gloves, never touch the piece to be silvered, atleast not on obvious areas where it will be seen(you can grab it from behind), I use regular dish soap, Rinse and rinse well before moving to the next step.
here is a video of how I clean the peice
2. Wetting Agent, This is need it because as opposed to Glass, Automotive coatings have a higher surface tension, the wetting agent lowers the surface tension, allowing the chemicals to cover the entire piece.
pre.wetting agent piece
after Wetting agent piece
Step 5: Silvering: Sensitizing and Silvering
After you use the Wetting agent you wait 30 senconds and Rinse, do another light coat of wetting agent and start using the Sensitizer and wait about a minute(a few seconds more than a minute is best) then you rinse and rinse very well as to remove any of the sensitizer liquids from the piece(dont worry as the sensitizer has already done its job). never let the piece dry during the process,
when you start Spraying the Silvering chemicals try to cover the entire piece as you build the silver deposit, Rinse the Part at least onece and start silvering again untill you have a nice coat.
Dry the Piece with a Hair Dryer
Step 6: Top Coat Stage
Top Coating, this is also important, its the last stage and if you mess up here, your entire work piece needs to be done again...
The silver deposit its not very thick and will allow some interaction of the Basecoat and clear coat so its very important that the basecoat has cured for at least 18 hours if its 2k Urethane, a few days or more if you plan on using spray cans, here this is what happens when you rush a job
the Unicoat kit from Angelgilding comes with a Violet tint unit, which is necesary to reproduce a chrome look, remember this is Silver and as such it does not look like pure chrome, it needs that blueish tone, and as you can see from the dirtbike pic, you can also use all kinds of color to reproduce, gold, copper and other colors.. all in all you should spend more than $200 and be able to coat about 200 square feet of products
I hope you like it and get ready for my Next DIY Silver/Copper/Gold Coating for Small 3D prints