SL & SLS Metal Plating

At Protolabs we offer a selection of Metal Plating finish options to suit your prototype or part material.  For personalised technical advice on the suitability of these process for your project, please contact one of our expert Applications Engineers on +44 (0) 1952 683047.

Metal Plating and Galvanoforming  

Thanks to the positive properties of electroplating, the process enables the production of parts with a special surface (commonly referred to as chromium plating).  The finished part’s surface— or area on the part—is then coated with copper or chrome. The application of this service is widely used in in the automotive sector or in electrical engineering.  When ‘metal coating’ takes place, a part or component is coated with a metal layer.  If the component (original part) is removed so that only the metal part remains, it is called Galvanoforming.

Finishing using Galvanoforming

Galvanoforming is a metal forming process that forms parts through electrodeposition or electroplating on a model, known in the manufacturing industry as a mandrel. Conductive (metallic) mandrels are pre-treated chemically to allow subsequent separation of the finished galvanoform, whereas non-conductive (glass, silicon, plastic) mandrels require the deposition of a conductive layer. Conductive layers can be deposited chemically, or using vacuum deposition techniques. This results in surfaces with several μm in the millimetre range.

Metal Plating finish advantages

Protolabs metal plating significantly expands the range of applications for 3D printed SL and SLS plastic parts. The resultant hybrid material combines the advantages of plastic and metal in a single part.

Nickel Plated 3D Printed Part

Nickel Plated 3D Printed Part

Click to enlarge

Requesting a quote with metal plating.

Application examples
  • Thin and lightweight components with a very high level of detail, the surface or shape of which cannot be milled or milling is too costly to be viable.
  • Plating of finished components for shielding against electric or magnetic fields
  • Finishing of surfaces with chrome in prototype construction (e.g. customer presentation)

Facts and figures

  • 3 - stage process
  • Original model produced by Stereolithography or Selective Laser Sintering (including finishing)
  • Manual finishing of surfaces according to customer requirements

Plating materials available

  • SLA: Chrome, nickel, copper
  • SLS: Nickel, copper

Maximum part size:

  • Technical nickel:
    • 1400 mm x 600 mm x 500 mm
  • Technical copper:
    • 1000 mm x 600 mm x 500 mm
  • Optical chrome / copper/ nickel:
    • 1000 mm x 600 mm x 500 mm

Layer thickness: 0.01mm - 1mm (after consultation)


In addition to the tolerances of the carrier material (SL or SLS), for the plating a tolerance of +/- 0.15 mm is added. Example: A SLS part with a technical-nickel coating consist of: the tolerance for a sintered part, which is ± 0.20 mm (plus 0.002 mm / mm), and an added ± 0.15 mm for the coating. For the normal SL tolerance click here - or for the tolerance of a normal SLS part click here.

Request More Information

Thank you

Please complete this form to request additional information. Or to be contacted by a Protolabs Representative.

To obtain a quote within 24 hours, upload your 3D CAD file. In the notes section, include the details of your request. Click image below to see where the notes section is located on the quoting page.

These secondary services are available when ordering a part manufactured by Protolabs.