Paint Used on Cell Phones

Ask an Expert From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 11/1/2002

Question: I'm doing some research on coatings so we can decide how to finish a product we are designing.

Question:

I'm doing some research on coatings so we can decide how to finish a product we are designing. It is a small medical device on which we would like to have a finish similar to a cell phone (a silver/metallic finish). What kind of paint do they use on cell phones to achieve this? They must use some kind of metallic additive, I am assuming. Do you have any idea about types of paints that might suit this application?

I'm also looking at the possibility of using a dry paint film laminate, or possibly some vacuum metallizing. Currently, we're thinking of producing products using polycarbonate, which rules out electroplating. S.D.

Answer:

In addition to cell phones, other items of consumer electronics as well as other consumer products are finished with metallic-looking finishes. These finishes come and go at the whims of industrial designers. Today, it's metallic looking, tomorrow it may be tree bark looking. Incidentally, my cell phone is painted gray. I keep it in the car for emergencies and have never had to use it as such but do use it about once a month. But, that doesn't answer your question.

The finishes you are interested in are produced using metallic pigments. Depending on the chemistry and the physical properties of the pigments, they are capable of producing chrome-like, sparkle, brushed metal (which is probably what you have in mind) and hammertone finishes. They are commercially available in a variety of resins in liquid and powder coatings. Coatings for cell phones and other manually abused products are based on two-component polyurethane resin technology.



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