Chrome-plating specialist, Borough Plating is celebrating 50 years of chrome-plating plastic components, having led the way since developing the innovative process.
Having been at the forefront of the technology in the UK since the 1960’s, Borough Plating managing director, David Coombes has witnessed a lot of change over the past five decades:
In 1966, the firm successfully transitioned from a traditional chrome plater and metal polisher into one of the few companies capable of successfully chrome-plating plastic components, typically moulded from ABS.
Coombes explained: “We started with radio and television control knobs, with our plating quality attracting work away from vacuum-deposited chrome, which has nowhere near the durability of electroplated chrome.
“The top three selling cars in that year were the Austin 1100, the Ford Cortina and the Mini, all of which used a lot of chrome-plated components.
“Our business received a significant boost when we supplied chrome-plated plastic lamp surrounds for the Mini, the start of our relationship with the automotive sector.”
According to Coombes, the process Borough Plating developed offered automotive designers more freedom with plastic components than they had typically experienced with die-casting.
Though chrome was still required for embellishment, manufacturers were able to combine this greater design freedom with the ability to save weight – helping to boost performance and fuel economy.
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He noted: “In those early days we typically plated components supplied by other manufacturers within the automotive supply chain or direct for the car-makers.
“This was before the concept of Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers or entire assemblies being completed off-site became today’s reality.
Initially, chrome-plated plastic components predominantly only featured inside vehicles, with the quality and durability required for exterior trim taking time to develop and perfect.
As Borough Plating entered the 1970’s its chrome-plated plastic grilles graced the fronts of the Jaguar XJS, the Austin’s famous Maxi and Princess.
Borough has continued to supply high quality chrome-plated components to the automotive industry with interior and exterior trim adding design polish to models by Rolls Royce, Bentley, MINI and Mercedes, to name but a few.
To improve the quality of the finished chrome-plated components, the firm helped develop new design techniques for the ABS mouldings to be plated, and has since continued to invest in new technology to enhance its own injection moulding capabilities at its Southend production facility.
Coombes said: “As the demand for high quality chrome plating has increased, from the automotive sector in particular, we recognised the quality of the moulding was the limiting factor.
“The combination of high quality injection moulding and 50 years’ experience of chrome plating ensures Borough will still be an important member of the supply chain when 2066 arrives.”