Electroless Metal Coating on Inert Elastomers

Abstract/Technology Overview

This technology enables a metal film to be deposited and strongly bonded onto various elastomeric materials that are typically difficult to coat such as silicone, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and fluorosilicones due to their low surface energy. A highly efficient and cost effective method was developed to activate the elastomer surfaces thereby enabling the surfaces to be metal coated via electroless plating. The types of metal that can be coated include nickel, gold, silver and copper. The coated elastomer remains very soft and flexible and no visible cracks on the coating would be observed when the elastomer is repeatedly deformed. The coated elastomer could potentially be used as interconnectors for flexible electronics, EMI shielding and smart sealing components, and functionalized microfluidic devices.


Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

  • Continuous and consistent thin metal films on the elastomer surface
  • Strong adhesion between metal film and elastomer
  • High surface electrical conductivity
  • Metal film has good flexibility and does not crack upon repeated deformation
  • Able to coat homogeneously on 3D surfaces
  • Less tacky surface that discourages dust to get trapped and accumulate

Potential Applications

This Electroless Metal Coating on Inert Elastomers technology is expected to be applicable, but not limited, to the following:

  • EMI shielding seal/gasket
  • Flexible electrode
  • Soft actuator
  • Functional microfluidic device
  • Wearables
  • Handphone cases
  • Conveyor belts
  • Window profiles
  • Anti-vibration mountings
  • Automotive products
  • Industrial and engineering goods
  • Weather strips and sealing systems
  • Bridge bearing pads

Customer Benefit

  • Applicable to a large variety of substrates
  • Electrically conductive elastomer with extremely low hardness
  • Extremely high conductivity achieved
  • Unique metallic appearance
  • Can be easily scaled-up
  • Immersion process and able to coat on large areas or large quantities

Contact Person

Than Wei Sin


A*STAR, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)

Technology Category
  • Coatings/Paints
  • Polymers/Plastic
  • Surface Finishing/Modification
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 5