Gold Plating on AM-FDM ABS Components

  • D. Shani Department of Mechanical Engineering, Afeka Academic College of Engineering, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • A. Inberg School of Electrical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel
  • D. Ashkenazi School of Mechanical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • Y. Shacham-Diamand Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel
  • A. Stern Department of Materials Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Keywords: Additive Manufacturing, Fused Deposition Modeling, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, printed material, electroless gold plating, surface coating


Fused Deposition Modeling is one of the most common Additive Manufacturing methods for polymers. For some applications, parts manufactured by this method need post-printing surface coating. The present research aims at examining the surface finishing properties of Fused Deposition Modeling Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene parts coated for the first time with laboratory-developed electroless gold. Such coating can be applied for electrical purposes and as a decorative cover for 3D-printed prototypes, as well as on top of printed replicas of archaeological artifacts. Gold was deposited by electroless plating on top printed disk-shaped specimens, making them look like an ancient artifact. The electroless gold film was studied by various methods, including dimensions and mass measurements, qualitative pilling test, multifocal light microscopy, optical profilometer and X-ray diffraction analysis. The gold layer thickness was studied as a function of deposition time. The laboratory-developed electroless gold coating was deposited from a cyanide free bath and was compared to a commercial one deposited from a cyanide bath. The results displayed high-quality gold, and a satisfactory appearance. The roughness of the laboratory gold plated samples was somewhat reduced as the thickness of the gold film was increased, and the surface appearance was improved correspondingly. The developed gold coating can be adapted for various applications, including 3D printed artifacts for museum exhibitions.

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