If you’re interested in adding a new and stylish look to your nameplate or component, you may want to consider 3D electroform. Using this process, you can achieve many different intricate looks and design elements on one part. You can create contrast within the nameplate by using an array of textures, depths, and colors. In this blog we will use the Callaway Golf component as an example to highlight different techniques and elements you can achieve with 3D electroform.
In short, 3D electroforming is a process of chrome and nickel plating that forms in a steel mold. The process begins with making a custom tool, using a CNC milling machine to cut out the mold in a block of steel. During this step, textures, finishes, and other desired decorative elements are added within the tooling, creating a unique look for the finished parts. The tool is then dipped into a nickel bath with an electrical current running through it which causes the nickel to start building up on the mold. Then the mold is taken out and washed with water. Next, that mold is dipped into a second tank, a chrome bath, also with an electrical current running through it, to build up a thin layer of chrome around the mold as well. This thin layer of chrome gives the part a high cosmetic finish. Finally, the mold is taken out and cleaned to prepare it for painting or any other decorative elements that will be added.
There are several different finishes and decorative options available with 3D electroform. On the raised silver “V” shape of the Callaway component, you can see a spin finish was applied. Spin finishes are many lines moving in a perfect circle pattern, which can create a specific focal point on the component. Selective spin finishes can be applied so specified regions of the part reflect light in an appealing way.
On the silver streak running horizontally along the Callaway component, you can see a brushed finish was applied. Brush finishes are lines moving in the same parallel direction creating a consistent blanket of lines. They can also be added to selective areas of the component, and can vary from fine to heavy thicknesses.
Many different patterns can be created using 3D electorm, and they can be used to achieve unique backgrounds and textures. An example of this can be seen in the black background of the Callaway component, with its deep crisscross pattern.
There is a wide variety of painting and coloring options for 3D electroform parts, which are added after the part is plated. In this component, we see a red gloss, black gloss and matte black applied to the component.
One thing to consider while using 3D electroform is the draft angle. The draft angle means it is difficult to create parts that have 90° perpendicular design elements in them, so they must be changed to greater than 90°. This is required because after a nameplate or component has been formed in the different liquid baths, you must remove it from the tool, and 90° elements are difficult to remove. Some features, like the large “V” of the component, can require 15-20° draft. But once you have this rule in mind, you can create almost any shape or pattern with different finishes and depths all in one nameplate, as it is formed from a machined tool.
The different depths created with 3D electroform is what makes these components stand out compared to nameplates made with embossing and forming tools, which have limitations on how much material can be formed. 3D electroforming also saves time and money by forming multiple finishes and raised areas in one process.
To learn more about this process, read our blog on 3D electroform nameplates for distinct & detailed branding.