WO2015006422A1 - Plated polymeric medical products - Google Patents

Plated polymeric medical products Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2015006422A1
WO2015006422A1 PCT/US2014/045914 US2014045914W WO2015006422A1 WO 2015006422 A1 WO2015006422 A1 WO 2015006422A1 US 2014045914 W US2014045914 W US 2014045914W WO 2015006422 A1 WO2015006422 A1 WO 2015006422A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
polymeric
polymeric substrate
plating
segments
component
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2014/045914
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Glenn Levasseur
Colin J. KLING
Grant O. COOK III
Russell A. Beers
Shari L. BUGAJ
Original Assignee
United Technologies Corporation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201361844177P priority Critical
Priority to US61/844,177 priority
Application filed by United Technologies Corporation filed Critical United Technologies Corporation
Publication of WO2015006422A1 publication Critical patent/WO2015006422A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61LMETHODS OR APPARATUS FOR STERILISING MATERIALS OR OBJECTS IN GENERAL; DISINFECTION, STERILISATION, OR DEODORISATION OF AIR; CHEMICAL ASPECTS OF BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES; MATERIALS FOR BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES
    • A61L27/00Materials for grafts or prostheses or for coating grafts or prostheses
    • A61L27/28Materials for coating prostheses
    • A61L27/30Inorganic materials
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61LMETHODS OR APPARATUS FOR STERILISING MATERIALS OR OBJECTS IN GENERAL; DISINFECTION, STERILISATION, OR DEODORISATION OF AIR; CHEMICAL ASPECTS OF BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES; MATERIALS FOR BANDAGES, DRESSINGS, ABSORBENT PADS, OR SURGICAL ARTICLES
    • A61L27/00Materials for grafts or prostheses or for coating grafts or prostheses
    • A61L27/14Macromolecular materials
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C25ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PROCESSES; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25DPROCESSES FOR THE ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PRODUCTION OF COATINGS; ELECTROFORMING; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25D5/00Electroplating characterised by the process; Pretreatment or after-treatment of workpieces
    • C25D5/54Electroplating on non-metallic surfaces, e.g. on carbon or carbon composites
    • C25D5/56Electroplating on non-metallic surfaces, e.g. on carbon or carbon composites on thin or conductive plastics
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C25ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PROCESSES; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25DPROCESSES FOR THE ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PRODUCTION OF COATINGS; ELECTROFORMING; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25D7/00Electroplating characterised by the article coated
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61GTRANSPORT, PERSONAL CONVEYANCES, OR ACCOMMODATION SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR PATIENTS OR DISABLED PERSONS; OPERATING TABLES OR CHAIRS; CHAIRS FOR DENTISTRY; FUNERAL DEVICES
    • A61G1/00Stretchers
    • A61G1/04Parts, details or accessories, e.g. head-, foot-, or like rests specially adapted for stretchers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61GTRANSPORT, PERSONAL CONVEYANCES, OR ACCOMMODATION SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR PATIENTS OR DISABLED PERSONS; OPERATING TABLES OR CHAIRS; CHAIRS FOR DENTISTRY; FUNERAL DEVICES
    • A61G5/00Chairs or personal conveyances specially adapted for patients or disabled persons, e.g. wheelchairs
    • A61G5/10Parts, details or accessories
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C23COATING METALLIC MATERIAL; COATING MATERIAL WITH METALLIC MATERIAL; CHEMICAL SURFACE TREATMENT; DIFFUSION TREATMENT OF METALLIC MATERIAL; COATING BY VACUUM EVAPORATION, BY SPUTTERING, BY ION IMPLANTATION OR BY CHEMICAL VAPOUR DEPOSITION, IN GENERAL; INHIBITING CORROSION OF METALLIC MATERIAL OR INCRUSTATION IN GENERAL
    • C23CCOATING METALLIC MATERIAL; COATING MATERIAL WITH METALLIC MATERIAL; SURFACE TREATMENT OF METALLIC MATERIAL BY DIFFUSION INTO THE SURFACE, BY CHEMICAL CONVERSION OR SUBSTITUTION; COATING BY VACUUM EVAPORATION, BY SPUTTERING, BY ION IMPLANTATION OR BY CHEMICAL VAPOUR DEPOSITION, IN GENERAL
    • C23C18/00Chemical coating by decomposition of either liquid compounds or solutions of the coating forming compounds, without leaving reaction products of surface material in the coating; Contact plating
    • C23C18/16Chemical coating by decomposition of either liquid compounds or solutions of the coating forming compounds, without leaving reaction products of surface material in the coating; Contact plating by reduction or substitution, e.g. electroless plating
    • C23C18/18Pretreatment of the material to be coated
    • C23C18/20Pretreatment of the material to be coated of organic surfaces, e.g. resins
    • C23C18/28Sensitising or activating
    • C23C18/30Activating or accelerating or sensitising with palladium or other noble metal
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C25ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PROCESSES; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25DPROCESSES FOR THE ELECTROLYTIC OR ELECTROPHORETIC PRODUCTION OF COATINGS; ELECTROFORMING; APPARATUS THEREFOR
    • C25D1/00Electroforming

Abstract

Metal-plated polymeric components and other materials having improved properties such as increased interfacial bond strengths, increased durability, increased heat resistance, and improved wear and erosion resistance are described. Methods for fabricating such metal-plated polymeric components and other materials are also described.

Description

PLATED POLYMERIC MEDICAL PRODUCTS

Cross-reference to Related Application

[0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S. C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial Number 61/844,177 filed on July 9, 2013, entitled "Plated

Polymeric Consumer Products."

Field of Disclosure

[0002] The present disclosure generally relates to metal-plated polymeric components and other materials having improved physical and mechanical properties. More specifically, this disclosure relates to metal -plated polymeric components and other materials having improved properties such as increased interfacial bond strengths, increased durability, improved heat resistance, and improved wear and erosion resistance.

Background

[0003] Metal-plated polymeric structures consist of a polymeric substrate coated with a metallic plating. These structures are lightweight and, by virtue of the metallic plating, exhibit markedly enhanced structural strengths over the strength of the polymeric substrate alone. These properties have made them attractive structures for component fabrication in many industries such as aerospace, automotive, military equipment, and consumer product industries, where high strength and lightweight materials are desired. For example, metal- plated polymeric materials continue to be explored for use in many consumer products to reduce the overall weight of the products and improve durability and wear resistance.

However, the strength and performance characteristics of metal-plated polymeric structures may be dependent upon the integrity of the interfacial bond between the metallic plating and the underlying polymeric substrate. Even though the surface of the polymeric substrate may be etched or abraded to promote the adhesion of metals to the polymeric surface and to increase the surface area of contact between the metallic plating layer and the polymeric substrate, the interfacial bond strength between the metallic plating and the polymeric substrate may be the structurally weak point of metal -plated polymeric materials. As such, the metallic plating layers may risk becoming disengaged from polymeric substrate surfaces and this could lead to part failure in some circumstances.

[0004] The interfacial bond strength between the metallic plating and the underlying polymeric substrate may be compromised upon exposure to high temperatures, such as those experienced during some high temperature engine operations. If metal -plated polymers are exposed to temperatures over a critical temperature or a sufficient amount of thermal fatigue (thermal cycling or applied loads at elevated temperatures) during operation, the interfacial bond between the metallic plating and the polymeric substrate may be at least partially degraded, which may lead to structural break-down of the component and possible in-service failure. In addition, as polymeric materials have a tendency to release gas (outgas) when exposed to high temperatures, such outgassing may be blocked by the metallic plating layer in metal-plated polymeric materials. Blocking of polymeric outgassing may cause the polymeric substrate to expand, resulting in defects in the metallic plating layer and the structure of the part as a whole. Unfortunately, brief or minor exposures of metal-plated polymeric components to structurally-compromising temperatures may go largely undetected in many circumstances, as the weakening of the bond between the metal-plating and the underlying polymeric substrate may be difficult to detect. To provide performance characteristics necessary for the safe use of metal-plated polymeric components in gas turbine engines and other applications, enhancements are needed to improve the interfacial bond strengths and the high-temperature stability of metal-plated polymeric components.

[0005] In addition, certain surfaces of metal-plated polymers may be damaged by wear or erosion. Wear-critical surfaces may include surfaces involved in interference fits, mating surfaces, or other surfaces which are installed and uninstalled frequently or surfaces exposed to a fluid (gas or liquid) flow. In addition, certain surfaces may be more susceptible than others to wear by impact and foreign-object damage. Erosion-susceptible surfaces may include edges, corner radii, or curved surfaces which may experience enhanced impact with particles in a fluid during operation. Current plating methods used in the fabrication of metal-plated polymeric components may result in a near uniform thickness of the metallic plating layer across the part, such that all surfaces of the metallic plating layer may have approximately the same resistance against wear or erosion. Accordingly, enhancements are needed to selectively impart enhanced protection to wear-critical and erosion-susceptible regions of metal-plated polymeric components to further improve the performance characteristics of these structures.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0006] Consumer product components manufactured from plated polymers are disclosed. [0007] In accordance with an aspect of the disclosure, a medical component is provided. The component may include at least one polymeric substrate forming the medical component and having at least one exposed surface. At least one metallic plating layer may be deposited on the at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

[0008] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a stretcher, a gurney, and a wheelchair.

[0009] In accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a bar, a cross bar, a frame, an arm rest, a foot rest, rims, and spokes for a medical patient transfer apparatus.

[0010] In accordance with still yet another aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a housing, a shaft, a joint, an arm member, a leg member, and a foot member for an external prosthesis.

[0011] In accordance with a further aspect of the disclosure, the at least one polymeric substrate may be formed into one of a bone, a bone joint, and a heart valve for an internal prosthesis.

[0012] In accordance with an even further aspect of the disclosure, the medical component may be surrounded in a bio-fluid-compatible outer covering.

[0013] In accordance with still an even further aspect of the disclosure, the bio-fluid- compatible outer covering may be formed from one of metal-on-metal, metal and plastic combination, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-crosslinked polyethylene.

[0014] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, a method of fabricating a medical component is provided. The method entails forming a polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the medical component. Another step may be depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.

[0015] In accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a stretcher, a gurney, and a wheelchair.

[0016] In accordance with still yet another aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a bar, a cross bar, a frame, an arm rest, a foot rest, rims, and spokes for a medical patient transfer apparatus.' [0017] In accordance with a further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a housing, a shaft, a joint, an arm member, a leg member, and a foot member for an external prosthesis.

[0018] In accordance with an even further aspect of the disclosure, the desired shape may be one of a bone, a bone joint, and a heart valve for an internal prosthesis.

[0019] In accordance with still an even further aspect of the disclosure, another step may be surrounding the medical component in a bio-fluid-compatible outer covering.

[0020] In accordance with still yet an even further aspect of the disclosure, the bio-fluid- compatible outer covering may be formed from one of metal-on-metal, metal and plastic combination, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-crosslinked polyethylene.

[0021] In accordance with another aspect of the disclosure, another method of fabricating a medical component is provided. The method entails forming polymeric substrate segments in a desired shape of the medical component. Another step may be depositing a metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of each polymeric substrate segment. Still another step may be joining the polymeric segments by transient liquid phase bonding.

[0022] In accordance with yet another aspect of the disclosure, another step may be applying a polymeric coating to the joined polymeric segments.

[0023] Other aspects and features of the disclosed systems and methods will be appreciated from reading the attached detailed description in conjunction with the included drawing figures. Moreover, selected aspects and features of one example embodiment may be combined with various selected aspects and features of other example embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024] FIG. 1 is a front view of a toy component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0025] FIG. 2 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a toy component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0026] FIG. 3 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a toy component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0027] FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a laptop frame constructed in accordance with the present disclosure; [0028] FIG. 5 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a laptop frame, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0029] FIG. 6 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a laptop frame, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0030] FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of a satellite dish antenna constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0031] FIG. 8 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a satellite dish antenna, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0032] FIG. 9 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a satellite dish antenna, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0033] FIG. 10 is a side view of a medical patient transfer apparatus constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0034] FIG. 11 is a top view of another medical patient transfer apparatus constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0035] FIG. 12 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a medical patient transfer apparatus component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0036] FIG. 13 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a medical patient transfer apparatus, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0037] FIG. 14 is a side perspective view of an office cabinet constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0038] FIG. 15 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of an office cabinet, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0039] FIG. 16 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of an office cabinet, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0040] FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of a working surface constructed in accordance with the present disclosure; [0041] FIG. 18 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a working surface, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0042] FIG. 19 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a working surface, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0043] FIG. 20 is a front view of an appliance housing constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0044] FIG. 21 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of an appliance housing, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0045] FIG. 22 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of an appliance housing, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0046] FIG. 23 is a front view of an ornamentation constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0047] FIG. 24 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of an ornamentation, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0048] FIG. 25 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of an ornamentation, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0049] FIG. 26 is a side perspective view of a wheelchair constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0050] FIG. 27 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a wheelchair component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0051] FIG. 28 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a wheelchair component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0052] FIG. 29 is a side view of a prosthesis constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0053] FIG. 30 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a prosthetic component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; [0054] FIG. 31 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a prosthetic component, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0055] FIG. 32 is a side perspective view of a mailbox constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0056] FIG. 33 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a mailbox, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0057] FIG. 34 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a mailbox, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0058] FIG. 35 is a cross-sectional view of a medical device implant constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0059] FIG. 36 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a medical device implant, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0060] FIG. 37 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a medical device implant, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0061] FIG. 38 is a front view of a high strength packaging constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0062] FIG. 39 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a high-strength packaging, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0063] FIG. 40 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a high-strength packaging, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0064] FIG. 41 is a front view of a caustic/corrosive-fluid container constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0065] FIG. 42 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a caustic/corrosive-fluid container, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure;

[0066] FIG. 43 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a caustic/corrosive-fluid container, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; [0067] FIG. 44 is a cross-sectional view of a wearable belt constructed in accordance with the present disclosure;

[0068] FIG. 45 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a wearable belt, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure; and

[0069] FIG. 46 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a wearable belt, in accordance with a method of the present disclosure.

[0070] It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that the disclosed embodiments are sometimes illustrated diagrammatically and in partial views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of this disclosure or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that this disclosure is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION [0071] High-Durability Toy Components

[0072] A wide variety of toys are often constructed of polymeric matrix composite (PMC) to achieve high-strength light-weight structures for toy components. For example, many radio-controlled (RC) toys, such as airplanes, boats, cars, trucks and helicopters, to name a few, include frame structures that are constructed of PMCs. Although many toys include components constructed from PMCs, these components still can experience significant damage during heavy use. Particularly, the frame structures of RC toy vehicles can suffer extensive damage during inadvertent crashes. The damage to the frames can result in costly repairs or even more expensive toy replacement. Generally, damage to an integral composite toy component or subassembly can cause catastrophic failure during use, which increases safety hazards and puts the operator and others nearby at potential safety risk.

Often times, damage to the toy component can be difficult to detect by visual inspection, further increasing potential safety risks. Because most toy components, and toy vehicle frames in particular, are ideally lightweight, more durable, heavy metallic components are not used. Thus, there is a need for lightweight toy components that are also highly durable.

[0073] Referring now to FIG. 1, a toy component constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 10. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the toy component 10 may be any of a wide variety of different toy components, having various structures and configurations, as used in common toys.

Thus, the toy component 10 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non- limiting examples, the toy component 10 may be a vehicle frame component for an RC toy vehicle such as airplanes, boats, cars, trucks, and helicopters. The toy component 10 may include a polymeric substrate 12 at its core and one or more metallic platings 14 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12. The polymeric substrate 12 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI),

thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, low-strength polymers common in the toy industry, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 12 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[0074] The polymeric substrate 12 may be formed into a desired shape from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges or bosses or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 12 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 12 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the toy component 10 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 12 may be plated with metallic plating 14 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the toy component 10.

[0075] The metallic plating 14 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 14 may be in the range of about 0.0001 inches (0.00254 mm) to about 0.020 inches (0.508 mm) with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.0005 inches (0.0127 mm) to about 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 14 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact, or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the toy component 10 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 14 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 12 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 14 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[0076] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric toy component parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) part. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[0077] A series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the toy component 10 is illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated in box 16, the polymeric substrate 12 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 18 and 20, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process. [0078] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 22. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 24, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 26, at least one metallic plating 14 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 28, after the polymeric substrate 12 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 14, the metallic plating 14 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0079] FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the toy component 10. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 2 in that polymeric substrate 12 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 30, the polymeric substrate 12 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 12 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 32. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 34, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 36, at least one metallic plating 14 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 12 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. [0080] Once polymeric substrate 12 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 14, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 12 segments comprising the toy component 10, as illustrated in box 38. Optionally, as shown in box 40, after plated polymeric substrate 12 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0081] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric toy components offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high- throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex toy component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric toy parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional unplated toy parts, components, or component assembly.

[0082] Light- Weight Laptop Frames

[0083] Computer laptops are easily transportable and require durable frames to protect the internal hardware from damage such as inadvertently dropping the laptop or bumping the laptop against a hard surface. Some computer laptop frames are manufactured by joining multiple polymeric and/or metallic components together with screws or solder. Other computer laptop frames are fabricated out of a block of material such that a machine cuts out the frame from the block of material. However, the first process tends to create computer frames that are structurally inferior. And although the latter process tends to create more durable computer frames, the process can be expensive, creates significant material waste, and is time consuming.

[0084] The hardware components within the computer laptop frame often are expensive and fragile. Moreover, the components collectively contain important information of the laptop user. Consequently, protecting these components is of utmost importance not only because repairing the damaged components can be costly but also because damage to the components can be detrimental to the information stored on the components. Clearly, there is a need for a lower-cost laptop frame that is lightweight and has more robust structural stiffness and durability than traditional polymeric materials.

[0085] Referring now to FIG. 4, an exemplary computer laptop frame 42 constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. As the laptop frame 42 shown in FIG. 4 is only exemplary, it is noted that other laptop frame designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The laptop frame 42 may include a polymeric substrate 44 at its core and one or more metallic plating 46 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 44. A portion of metallic plating 46 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 44, as shown in FIG. 4. The polymeric substrate 44 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 44 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[0086] The polymeric substrate 44 may be formed into a desired laptop frame from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 44 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 44 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses or other features may be added to the laptop frame 42 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 44 may be plated with metallic plating 46 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the laptop frame 42.

[0087] The metallic plating 46 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 46 may be in the range of about 0.0001 inches (0.00254 mm) to about 0.010 inches (0.254 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 46 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact, or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface

characteristics without adding undue weight to the laptop frame 42 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 46 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 44 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 46 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[0088] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric laptop frame 42 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[0089] FIG. 5 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the laptop frame 42. As illustrated in box 48, the polymeric substrate 44 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 50 and 52, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[0090] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 54. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 56, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 58, at least one metallic plating 46 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 60, after the polymeric substrate 44 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 46, the metallic plating 46 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0091] FIG. 6 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the laptop frame 42. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 5 in that polymeric substrate 44 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 62, the polymeric substrate 44 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 44 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 64. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 66, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 68, at least one metallic plating 46 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 44 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[0092] Once polymeric substrate 44 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 46, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 44 segments comprising the laptop frame 42, as illustrated in box 70. Optionally, as shown in box 72, after plated polymeric substrate 44 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[0093] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric laptop frames can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex laptop frame geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric laptop frame parts, components, or component assembly durability and stiffness is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric laptop frame parts, components, or component assembly.

[0094] Light- Weight Dish Antenna

[0095] Typical satellite dish antennae are parabolic in shape and are designed to receive microwaves from orbiting satellites in space. Many of these satellite dish antennae are used in the telecommunications industry such as in television and radio broadcasting. For the dish antenna to receive signals from the orbiting satellite, it is important for the dish antenna to be positioned so that there is an unobstructed pathway from the orbiting satellite to the dish antenna. However, finding an unobstructed pathway may be complicated by obstructions around the site location of the antenna as well as the weight and size of the antenna, which is determined by the frequency of the signal received. These factors can significantly increase the time and cost of installation. Accordingly, there is a need for satellite dish antennae that are lighter in weight while still maintaining structural durability.

[0096] FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary satellite dish antenna, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 74. It is noted that the dish antenna 74, as depicted, is only exemplary and other dish antenna designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The dish antenna 74 may include a polymeric substrate 76 at its core and one or more metallic plating 78 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 76. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 78 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 76. The polymeric substrate 76 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 76 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[0097] The polymeric substrate 76 may be formed into a desired dish antenna 74 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 76 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the dish antenna 74, such as the walls, may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 76 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[0098] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 76 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 76 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the dish antenna 74 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 76 may be plated with metallic plating 78 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the dish antenna 74.

[0099] The metallic plating 78 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 78 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 78 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact, or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the dish antenna 74 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 78 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 76 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 78 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00100] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric dish antenna 74 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00101] FIG. 8 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the dish antenna 74. As illustrated in box 80, the polymeric substrate 76 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 82 and 84, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00102] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 76, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 78 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 86. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 88, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 90, at least one metallic plating 78 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 92, after the polymeric substrate 76 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 78, the metallic plating 78 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00103] FIG. 9 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the dish antenna 74. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 8 in that polymeric substrate 76 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 94, the polymeric substrate 76 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 76 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 96. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 98, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 100, at least one metallic plating 78 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 76 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00104] Once polymeric substrate 76 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 78, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 76 segments comprising the dish antenna 74, as illustrated in box 102. Optionally, as shown in box 104, after plated polymeric substrate 76 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00105] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric satellite dish antennae can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex satellite dish antenna geometries can now be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric satellite dish antenna parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric satellite dish antenna parts, components, or component assembly. Additionally, the thickness and uniformity of the metallic plating 78, which is used to reflect the satellite signals, is greatly enhanced.

[00106] Stretcher and Gurney Components

[00107] Medical patient transfer apparatus, such as stretchers and gurneys (a stretcher with wheels), are used to move injured or sick individuals, usually, from an emergency site to a place for treatment. To support the weight, and ensure the safety, of the injured person during transfer, stretcher and gurney frames and components are conventionally

manufactured from strong heavy materials. The heavy weight of the stretcher frame, in addition to the weight of the injured person, require emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, who usually operate the stretchers, to lift and carry an extreme amount of weight. Similarly, the EMS personnel lift a considerable amount of weight, due to the combined weight of the injured person and the gurney frame, when raising the gurney from a lower state to an elevated state. The repetitive raising and lowering of such heavy weight puts the EMS personnel at high risk for back injury. Additionally, the heavy weight of the stretchers may jeopardize the injured person from being transferred safely and in a timely fashion to a place for treatment. Thus, there is a need for stretcher and gurney components that are lighter in weight and also have robust structural stiffness and durability.

[00108] Referring now to FIG. 10, an exemplary medical patient transfer apparatus 106 constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. As the medical patient transfer apparatus 106 is only exemplary, it is noted that other medical patient transfer apparatus designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. For example, as shown in FIG. 11 , another non-limiting medical patient transfer apparatus in the form of a stretcher 108 also fits within the scope of the present disclosure. The medical patient transfer apparatus 106 may include a component 110 such as, but not limited to, cross bars and frames. The component 110 may include a polymeric substrate 112 at its core and one or more metallic plating 114 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 112. A portion of metallic plating 114 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 112, as shown in FIG. 10.

[00109] The polymeric substrate 112 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 112 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00110] The polymeric substrate 112 may be formed into a desired component 110 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 112 using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 80 may be formed in multiple segments and joined before plating using any of the previously mentioned processes. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the component 110 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 112 may be plated with metallic plating 114 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the component 110.

[00111] The metallic plating 114 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 114 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 114 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact, or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the component 110 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 114 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 112 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 1 14 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00112] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric component 110 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00113] FIG. 12 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the component 110. As illustrated in box 116, the polymeric substrate 112 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 118 and 120, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00114] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 112, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 114 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 122. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 124, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 112 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 126, at least one metallic plating 114 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 112 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 128, after the polymeric substrate 112 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 114, the metallic plating 1 14 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00115] FIG. 13 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the component 110. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 12 in that polymeric substrate 112 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 130, the polymeric substrate 112 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 112 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 132. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 134, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 136, at least one metallic plating 114 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 1 12 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00116] Once polymeric substrate 1 12 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 1 14, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 112 segments comprising the component 110, as illustrated in box 138. Optionally, as shown in box 140, after plated polymeric substrate 112 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00117] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric medical patient transfer apparatus components can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, medical patient transfer apparatus component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric medical patient transfer apparatus parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric medical patient transfer apparatus parts, components, or component assembly. Additionally, the lower weight medical patient transfer apparatus components serve to reduce EH&S risks for emergency personnel, hospital workers, athletic trainers and other staff.

[00118] Office Equipment - Cabinetry

[00119] Cabinetry is frequently utilized in business and home offices. The main purpose of office cabinetry is for storage of a myriad of items such as files, reference books, work- related documentation, electronic equipment, supplies, and other office-related items. The cabinetry structure is typically manufactured from heavy, sturdy materials to support the weight of the items stored inside. In the case of locked or secured cabinetry, the material of the cabinetry may be stronger and heavier to protect the items stored inside from invasive damage. Installation of the cabinetry requires careful handling to safeguard against cosmetic and structural damage, however, this is often a difficult process due to the heavy weight of the cabinetry. Thus, there is a need for low-weight, yet structurally robust and durable, cabinetry that is also inexpensive, can resist cosmetic damage from daily use and can be installed safely.

[00120] FIG. 14 illustrates an exemplary office cabinet, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 142. It is noted that the office cabinet 142, as depicted, is only exemplary and other general-use cabinetry designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The office cabinet 142 may include a polymeric substrate 144 at its core and one or more metallic plating 146 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 144. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 146 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 144.

[00121] The polymeric substrate 144 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 144 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00122] The polymeric substrate 144 may be formed into a desired office cabinet 142 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 144 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the office cabinet 142, such as the walls, may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 144 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00123] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 144 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 144 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the office cabinet 142 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 144 may be plated with metallic plating 146 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the office cabinet 142.

[00124] The metallic plating 146 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 146 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.010 inches (0.254 mm) to 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 146 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or handling, to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the office cabinet 142 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 146 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 144 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 146 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00125] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric office cabinet 142 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00126] FIG. 15 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the office cabinet 142. As illustrated in box 148, the polymeric substrate 144 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 150 and 152, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00127] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 144, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 146 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 154. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 156, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 144 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 158, at least one metallic plating 146 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 144 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 160, after the polymeric substrate 144 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 146, the metallic plating 146 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00128] FIG. 16 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the office cabinet 142. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 15 in that polymeric substrate 144 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 162, the polymeric substrate 144 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 144 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 164. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 166, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 168, at least one metallic plating 146 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 144 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00129] Once polymeric substrate 144 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 146, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 144 segments comprising the office cabinet 142, as illustrated in box 170. Optionally, as shown in box 172, after plated polymeric substrate 144 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00130] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric office cabinetry provides relatively inexpensive, robust structures for purposes of storage. The low weight property of the office cabinetry is favorable relative to Environmental Safety and Health. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex cabinetry geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric office cabinet parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric office cabinet parts, components, or component assembly. Additionally, the plated polymeric office cabinetry also is resistant to use/handling damage and may be designed to retard invasive theft attempts.

[00131] Office Equipment - Working Surfaces

[00132] A wide variety of working surfaces are frequently utilized in different types of businesses and home offices. Some common examples of working surfaces include, but are not limited to, desks, tables, and work benches. Because these working surfaces are used on a daily basis, they are susceptible to cosmetic and structural damage from overuse. As a result, many conventional working surfaces are fabricated from durable, yet heavy and expensive materials. The heavy weight of these working surfaces often makes it difficult to safely transport and install in the workplace. Clearly, there is a need for inexpensive and light-weight working surfaces that also have robust, durable structures.

[00133] FIG. 17 illustrates an exemplary working surface, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 174. It is noted that the working surface 174, as depicted, is only exemplary and other working surface designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The working surface 174 may include a polymeric substrate 176 at its core and one or more metallic plating 178 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 176. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 178 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 176.

[00134] The polymeric substrate 176 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 176 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00135] The polymeric substrate 176 may be formed into a desired working surface 174 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 176 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the working surface 174, such as the walls, may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 176 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00136] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 176 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 176 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the working surface 174 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 176 may be plated with metallic plating 178 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the working surface 174.

[00137] The metallic plating 178 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 178 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.005 inches (0.127 mm) to 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 178 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or handling, to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the working surface 174 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 178 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 176 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 178 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00138] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric working surface 174 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00139] FIG. 18 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the working surface 174. As illustrated in box 180, the polymeric substrate 176 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 182 and 184, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00140] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 176, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 178 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 186. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 188, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 176 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 190, at least one metallic plating 178 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 176 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 192, after the polymeric substrate 176 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 178, the metallic plating 178 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. [00141] FIG. 19 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the working surface 174. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 18 in that polymeric substrate 176 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 194, the polymeric substrate 176 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 176 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 196. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 198, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 200, at least one metallic plating 178 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 176 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00142] Once polymeric substrate 176 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 178, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 176 segments comprising the working surface 174, as illustrated in box 202. Optionally, as shown in box 204, after plated polymeric substrate 176 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00143] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that plated polymeric office working surfaces can provide relatively inexpensive, robust structures. The low-weight property of the plated polymeric office working surfaces is favorable from an Environmental Health and Safety perspective. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex office working surface geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric office working surface parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric office working surface parts, components, or component assembly. Additionally, the plated polymeric office working surfaces also are resistant to use/handling damage.

[00144] Appliance Housings

[00145] Appliance housings are designed to protect the internal components of everyday appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dryers, and air conditioners. Traditionally, this protection is in the form of an appliance housing that is quite heavy. A heavy appliance housing is unfavorable with respect to shipping and storage at

shipping/warehouse facilities and retail stores. On the consumer end, a heavy appliance housing is problematic when locating the appliance for use and when moving the appliance for cleaning or remodeling. Clearly, there is a need for a lighter-weight appliance housing that lowers costs of the product and improves consumer usage, while still maintaining a robust structural stiffness to protect the internal components.

[00146] Referring now to FIG. 20, an appliance housing constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 206. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the appliance housing 206 may be any of a wide variety of different appliance housings, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the appliance housing 206 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the appliance housing 206 may be a housing for such appliances as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dryers, and air conditioners, to name a few. The appliance housing 206 may include a polymeric substrate 208 at its core and one or more metallic plating 210 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 208.

[00147] The polymeric substrate 208 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 208 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00148] The polymeric substrate 208 may be formed into a desired appliance housing 206 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 208 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 208 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the appliance housing 206 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 208 may be plated with metallic plating 210 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the appliance housing 206.

[00149] The metallic plating 210 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 210 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 210 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as fire, erosion, impact or handling, to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the appliance housing 206 as a whole.

Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 210 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 208 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 210 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00150] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric appliance housing 144 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00151] FIG. 21 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the appliance housing 206. As illustrated in box 212, the polymeric substrate 208 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 214 and 216, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00152] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 208, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 210 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 218. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 220, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 208 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 222, at least one metallic plating 210 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 208 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 224, after the polymeric substrate 208 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 210, the metallic plating 210 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00153] FIG. 22 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the appliance housing 206. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 21 in that polymeric substrate 208 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 226, the polymeric substrate 208 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 208 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 228. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 230, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 232, at least one metallic plating 210 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 208 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00154] Once polymeric substrate 208 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 210, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 208 segments comprising the appliance housing 206, as illustrated in box 234. Optionally, as shown in box 236, after plated polymeric substrate 208 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00155] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric appliance housing can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex appliance housing geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric appliance housing parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric appliance housing parts, components, or component assembly.

[00156] Art, Decoration, Architectural Elements

[00157] Ornamentation of various types is generally used to beautify a particular surrounding. Some common examples of ornamentation are decorations, outdoor art installations and some architectural panels and frames. In many cases, ornamentation is hung on walls of restaurants, businesses and homes to add a unique look or design. The unlimited freedom of creation produces some ornamentation that is beautiful, yet heavy due to the choice of material, and thus, causing difficulty when hanging on walls. Other ornamentation may be installed outside requiring the ornamentation to be wear and corrosion protected, which may add significant costs. As can be seen, there is a need for light-weight

ornamentation that is protected from the natural elements and is also cost effective.

[00158] Referring now to FIG. 23, an ornamentation constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 238. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the ornamentation 238 may be any of a wide variety of different art, decoration, or architectural ornamentation, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the ornamentation 238 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the ornamentation 238 may be an outdoor art installation, a ceiling fixture, a business signage or an architectural panel or frame, to name a few. The ornamentation 238 may include a polymeric substrate 240 at its core and one or more metallic plating 242 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 240.

[00159] The polymeric substrate 240 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 240 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00160] The polymeric substrate 240 may be formed into a desired ornamentation 238 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as fianges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 240 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 240 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the ornamentation 238 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the ornamentation 238 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to components of other materials. A non- limiting example is a plated polymeric shaft with a composite blade joined thereto.

Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 240 may be plated with metallic plating 242 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the ornamentation 238.

[00161] The metallic plating 242 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 242 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 242 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the ornamentation 238 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 242 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 240 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 242 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00162] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric ornamentation 238 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00163] FIG. 24 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the ornamentation 238. As illustrated in box 244, the polymeric substrate 240 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 246 and 248, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00164] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 240, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 242 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 250. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 252, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 240 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 254, at least one metallic plating 242 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 240 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 256, after the polymeric substrate 240 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 242, the metallic plating 242 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00165] FIG. 25 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the ornamentation 238. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 24 in that polymeric substrate 240 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 258, the polymeric substrate 240 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 240 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 260. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 262, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 264, at least one metallic plating 242 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 240 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00166] Once polymeric substrate 240 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 242, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 240 segments comprising the ornamentation 238, as illustrated in box 266. Optionally, as shown in box 268, after plated polymeric substrate 240 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00167] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric

ornamentation 238 offers cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The plated polymeric ornamentation 238 also provides beneficial corrosion and wear protection while at the same time displaying an attractive metallic finish.

[00168] Wheelchair Components [00169] Wheelchairs are chairs mounted on large wheels and primarily used by sick or disabled people. The wheelchair may be propelled by the occupant of the chair or may be pushed by a caregiver or attendant. Typically, wheelchairs are quite heavy because the components are designed to support the weight and ensure the safety of the occupant. The combined weight of the wheelchair and the occupant can make it difficult for the attendant to push the disabled person and may lead to health issues for the attendant, such as lower back problems. Furthermore, the weight of the wheelchair can cause difficulties or injury while loading or unloading (e.g., in a vehicle). For a disabled person without an attendant, a heavy wheelchair may limit mobility and decrease the person's quality of life. Clearly, there is a need for a light-weight wheelchair that is structurally robust.

[00170] Referring now to FIG. 26, an exemplary wheelchair 270 constructed in

accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. As the wheelchair 270 is only exemplary, it is noted that other wheelchair designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The wheelchair 270 may include a wheelchair component 272 such as, but not limited to, cross bars, frames, arm rests, foot rests, rims, and spokes. The wheelchair component 272 may include a polymeric substrate 274 at its core and one or more metallic plating 276 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 274. A portion of metallic plating 276 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 274, as shown.

[00171] The polymeric substrate 274 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 274 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00172] The polymeric substrate 274 may be formed into a desired wheelchair component 272 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 274 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the wheelchair component 272 may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 274 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00173] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 274 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 274 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the wheelchair component 272 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the wheelchair component 272 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to parts of other materials. A non- limiting example is plated polymeric rim and spokes attached to a steel axle. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 274 may be plated with metallic plating 276 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the wheelchair component 272.

[00174] The metallic plating 276 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 276 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.01016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 276 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the wheelchair 270 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 276 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 274 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 276 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00175] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric wheelchair component 272 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00176] FIG. 27 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the wheelchair component 272. As illustrated in box 278, the polymeric substrate 274 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 280 and 282, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 274 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 274 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00177] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 274, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 276 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 284. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 286, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 274 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 288, at least one metallic plating 276 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 274 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 290, after the polymeric substrate 274 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 276, the metallic plating 276 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00178] FIG. 28 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the wheelchair component 272. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 27 in that polymeric substrate 274 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 292, the polymeric substrate 274 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 274 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 294. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 296, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 298, at least one metallic plating 276 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 274 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00179] Once polymeric substrate 274 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 276, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 274 segments comprising the wheelchair component 272, as illustrated in box 300. Optionally, as shown in box 302, after plated polymeric substrate 274 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00180] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric wheelchair component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex wheelchair component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric wheelchair parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric wheelchair parts, components, or component assembly.

[00181] Prosthetics (External)

[00182] Prostheses are artificial devices used to replace missing body parts, such as limbs, teeth, eyes or heart valves. In the case of prosthetic limbs, it is important that the prosthetic limb operates and moves as easily as a natural limb. The user of the prosthetic limb has to feel comfortable during use of the prosthesis. However, many prostheses are heavy and make the user feel unbalanced, which potentially leads to a lower quality of life for the user. The prosthesis industry has made dramatic improvements in recent years, but as the technology of prostheses increases, so does the purchase price, which leaves some without access to the best prosthetic limbs on the market. Reducing the cost of prosthetic components will help offset the increase in price due to the technological improvements and make the prostheses more affordable. Because the prosthesis is used on a daily basis, it is also important that the prosthesis is highly durable, so the user doesn't have to purchase an expensive replacement. Thus, there is a need for lower cost, light-weight prostheses that are also highly durable.

[00183] Referring now to FIG. 29, an exemplary prosthesis 304 constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is depicted. As the prosthesis 304 is only exemplary, it is noted that other prosthesis designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The prosthesis 304 may include a prosthetic component 306 such as, but not limited to, housings, shafts, joints, arm members, leg members and foot members. The prosthetic component 306 may include a polymeric substrate 308 at its core and one or more metallic plating 310 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 308. A portion of metallic plating 310 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 308, as shown.

[00184] The polymeric substrate 308 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 308 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00185] The polymeric substrate 308 may be formed into a desired prosthetic component 306 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 308 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 308 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the prosthetic component 306 using conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the prosthesis 304 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined to parts of other materials. A non- limiting example is a plated polymeric interior truss attached to a polymeric

covering/housing. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 308 may be plated with metallic plating 310 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the prosthetic component 306.

[00186] The metallic plating 310 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 310 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 310 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the prosthesis 304 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 310 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 308 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 310 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00187] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric prosthetic component 306 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00188] FIG. 30 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the prosthetic component 306. As illustrated in box 312, the polymeric substrate 308 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 314 and 316, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 308 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 308 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00189] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 308, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 310 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 318. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 320, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 308 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 322, at least one metallic plating 310 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 308 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 324, after the polymeric substrate 308 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 310, the metallic plating 310 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00190] FIG. 31 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the prosthetic component 306. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 30 in that polymeric substrate 308 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 326, the polymeric substrate 308 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 308 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 328. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 330, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 332, at least one metallic plating 310 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 308 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00191] Once polymeric substrate 308 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 310, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 308 segments comprising the prosthetic component 306, as illustrated in box 334. Optionally, as shown in box 336, after plated polymeric substrate 308 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. [00192] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric prosthetic component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex prosthetic component geometries can be

accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. The metallic appearance of the plated polymeric prosthetic component has the potential to increase resale value. Overall, plated polymeric prosthetic parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric prosthetic parts, components, or component assembly.

[00193] Plated Polymeric Mailbox

[00194] Mailboxes are typically manufactured from plastics and, being located outdoors, are susceptible to the natural elements such as high winds, rain, heavy snowfall, and overexposure to the sun. This exposure to the elements degrades the mailbox over time putting the mail inside at risk to the elements as well. Other potential hazards for mailboxes are damage from pranksters or passing vehicles (e.g., on a dimly lit road at night or a snow plow during a winter storm). As mailboxes serve to contain and protect our personal mail, which are usually paper material, it is inherent that mailboxes should be manufactured from a highly durable, erosion- and impact- resistant structure that protects mail from the natural elements and other damage.

[00195] FIG. 32 illustrates an exemplary mailbox, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 338. It is noted that the mailbox 338, as depicted, is only exemplary and other mailbox designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. The mailbox 338 may include a polymeric substrate 340 at its core and one or more metallic plating 342 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymeric substrate 340. As shown, a portion of metallic plating 342 is partially removed to reveal the polymeric substrate 340.

[00196] The polymeric substrate 340 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polypheny! sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 340 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00197] The polymeric substrate 340 may be formed into a desired mailbox 338 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 340 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 340 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the mailbox 338 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 340 may be plated with metallic plating 342 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the mailbox 338.

[00198] The metallic plating 342 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 342 may be in the range of about 0.0001 inches (0.00254 mm) to about 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.0005 inches (0.0127 mm) to 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 342 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the mailbox 338 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 342 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 340 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 342 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00199] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric mailbox 338 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00200] FIG. 33 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the mailbox 338. As illustrated in box 344, the polymeric substrate 340 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 346 and 348, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 340 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 340 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00201] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 340, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 342 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 350. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 352, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 340 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 354, at least one metallic plating 342 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 340 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 356, after the polymeric substrate 340 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 342, the metallic plating 342 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00202] FIG. 34 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the mailbox 338. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 33 in that polymeric substrate 340 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 358, the polymeric substrate 340 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 340 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 360. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 362, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 364, at least one metallic plating 342 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 340 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00203] Once polymeric substrate 340 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 342, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 340 segments comprising the mailbox 338, as illustrated in box 366. Optionally, as shown in box 368, after plated polymeric substrate 340 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00204] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric mailbox can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high- throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex mailbox geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric mailbox parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric mailbox parts, components, or component assembly.

[00205] Prosthetics (Internal)

[00206] Medical device implants or internal prostheses are artificial devices used to replace missing body parts, such as bones, joints or heart valves. Because these medical devices are implanted into a person, it is of the utmost importance the internal devices are durable and light-weight. However, many internal prostheses, such as structural-mobility prostheses, need to be replaced after some time due to the daily wear on the prosthesis.

Replacing the prosthesis is an expensive procedure requiring invasive surgery, so it would be advantageous to have a highly durable medical device implant that does not need to be replaced as often, or at all. Clearly, there is a need for lower cost, light-weight medical device implants that are also highly durable.

[00207] Referring now to FIG. 35, a medical device implant (internal prosthesis) constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 370. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the medical device implant 370 may be any of a wide variety of different internal prostheses, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the medical device implant 370 may deviate

substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As a non-limiting example, the medical device implant 370 may be a hip joint. The medical device implant 370 may include a polymeric substrate 372 at its core and one or more metallic plating 374 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 372. A bio-fluid-compatible outer covering 376 surrounds the entire plated polymeric medical device implant 370. The covering 376 may be selected from any existing bio-fluid-compatible materials known in the industry such as, but not limited to, metal and plastic, metal-on-metal, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-crosslinked polyethylene.

[00208] The polymeric substrate 372 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 372 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00209] The polymeric substrate 372 may be formed into a desired medical device implant 370 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes).

[00210] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 372 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 372 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. In a similar manner, the medical device implant 370 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined, bonded or attached to parts of other materials. Non-limiting examples are a plated polymeric interior truss attached to a polymeric or ceramic covering and a plated polymeric hip bone component attached to a titanium hip socket. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the medical device implant 370 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 372 may be plated with metallic plating 374 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the medical device implant 370. [00211] The metallic plating 374 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 374 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.030 inches (0.762 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.020 inches (0.508 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 374 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the medical device implant 370 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 374 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 372 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 374 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00212] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric medical device implants 370 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00213] FIG. 36 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the medical device implant 370. As illustrated in box 378, the polymeric substrate 372 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 380 and 382, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 372 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 372 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00214] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 372, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 374 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 384. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 386, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 372 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 388, at least one metallic plating 374 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 372 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 390, after the polymeric substrate 372 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 374, the metallic plating 374 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. As shown in box 392, after the plating process, the medical device implant 370 is surrounded by a bio-fluid- compatible outer covering 376.

[00215] FIG. 37 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the medical device implant 370. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 36 in that polymeric substrate 372 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 394, the polymeric substrate 372 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 372 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 396. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 398, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 400, at least one metallic plating 374 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 372 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00216] Once polymeric substrate 372 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 374, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 372 segments comprising the medical device implant 370, as illustrated in box 402. Optionally, as shown in box 404, after plated polymeric substrate 372 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. As shown in box 406, after the TLP bonding process, the medical device implant 370 is surrounded by a bio- fluid-compatible outer covering 376.

[00217] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric medical device implant can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex medical device implant geometries can be

accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric medical device implant parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric medical device implant parts, components, or component assembly.

[00218] High Strength Packaging

[00219] High-strength packaging for shipment or storage tends to be heavy. For example, shipping containers, racks, pallets and boxes, amongst other types of high-strength packaging, are often re -used and have to survive extended storage life, in addition to, handling damage from shipping and shock loads, and environmental factors. Because shipping and storage costs depend on the overall weight, including the packaging, lighter- weight yet effective packaging can be very cost effective especially if containers are re -used for multiple shipments. Thus, there is a need for lower-cost high-strength packaging that is also structurally robust, durable and resistant to load and environmental damage.

[00220] Referring now to FIG. 38, a high-strength packaging constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 408. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the high-strength packaging 408 may be any of a wide variety of different packaging, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the high-strength packaging 408 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the high-strength packaging may be any type of shipping container such as, racks, pallets, boxes, crates or cages. The high-strength packaging 408 may include a polymeric substrate 410 at its core and one or more metallic plating 412 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 410.

[00221] The polymeric substrate 410 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 410 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials.

[00222] The polymeric substrate 410 may be formed into a desired high-strength packaging 408 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup

(autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymeric substrate 410 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the high-strength packaging 408, such as walls, may be compression molded such that the polymeric substrate 410 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00223] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 410 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 410 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the high-strength packaging 408 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 410 may be plated with metallic plating 412 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the high-strength packaging 408.

[00224] The metallic plating 412 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 412 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.150 inches (3.810 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 412 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the high-strength packaging 408 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 412 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 410 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 412 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00225] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric high- strength packaging 408 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00226] FIG. 39 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the high- strength packaging 408. As illustrated in box 414, the polymeric substrate 410 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 416 and 418, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 410 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 410 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00227] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 410, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 412 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 420. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 422, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 410 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 424, at least one metallic plating 412 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 410 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 426, after the polymeric substrate 410 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 412, the metallic plating 412 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00228] FIG. 40 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the high-strength packaging 408. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 39 in that polymeric substrate 410 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 428, the polymeric substrate 410 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 410 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 430. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 432, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 434, at least one metallic plating 412 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 410 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00229] Once polymeric substrate 410 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 412, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 410 segments comprising the high-strength packaging 408, as illustrated in box 436. Optionally, as shown in box 438, after plated polymeric substrate 410 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00230] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric high- strength packaging can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex high-strength packaging geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric high-strength packaging parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric high-strength packaging parts, components, or component assembly.

[00231] Robust, Light-Weight Caustic/Corrosive-Fluid Containers

[00232] Containers for caustic or corrosive fluids must be resistant to a specific range of caustic and corrosive fluids. Typically, caustic fluids are defined as fluids exhibiting a high pH level. The selection of appropriate materials to meet the fluid-exposure requirements is often a difficult process. Using certain materials result in containers with thick walls producing heavier containers. However, heavy containers are undesirable from a handling and shipping standpoint because of the added costs involved. Thus, there is a need for lightweight, low-cost caustic/corrosive-fluid containers that are highly resistant to corrosive and/or caustic fluids.

[00233] Referring now to FIG. 41 , a caustic/corrosive-fluid container constructed in accordance with the present disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 440. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 may be any of a wide variety of different containers, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the

caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 may be any type of container such as, bottles, jars, cans, storage tanks, or barrels. The caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 may include a polymeric substrate 442 at its core and one or more caustic/corrosive-resistant metallic plating 444 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 442. For example, the metallic plating 444 may be applied to only internal surfaces, only external surfaces or all surfaces of the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440.

[00234] Depending upon the application of the container 440 (resistance to a specific caustic or corrosive fluid), the polymeric substrate 442 may be formed from certain thermoplastic or thermoset materials. Some polymers containing the amide group such as nylons, Torlon (amide imides), and imides (Ultem) are extremely susceptible to caustic attack and may require additional layers of metallic plating 444 to resist the caustic/corrosive fluids. Similarly, other caustic-sensitive thermoplastics, such as, acrylates, methacrylates, polyesters, polyurethanes, polyimides, and polycarbonates, may require additional layers of metallic plating 444. There are other polymer groups that are resistant to caustic attack and may require fewer or no layers of metallic plating 444. These polymers may include

polyphenylene sulfide, polyether sulfones, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polyphenylene ethers (PPO) and thermoplastic fluorocarbons. For certain corrosive materials, such as hydrofluoric acid and other strong acids, polyethylene and fluorocarbons may be selected as appropriate polymers to form the polymeric substrate 442.

[00235] A non-exhaustive list of suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but is not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters,

polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 442 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials. [00236] The polymeric substrate 442 may be formed into a desired caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup

(autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional features, such as inserts, flanges, threads, handles, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 442 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 442 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, threads, handles, bosses, or other features may be added to the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 442 may be plated with metallic plating 444 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the caustic/corrosive- fluid container 440.

[00237] The caustic/corrosive -resistant metallic plating 444 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metallic plating 444 may have an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.0005 inches (0.0127 mm) to 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), but other metallic plating thicknesses may also apply. The metallic plating 444 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the

caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 444 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 442 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 444 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof. [00238] In particular, the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 may be fabricated in different possible configurations implementing the masking techniques described above. For example, every surface of the polymeric substrate 442 may be plated with caustic/corrosive- resistant metal 444 to provide a more robust structural stiffness. Because of the robust structure, the polymeric substrate 442 wall thickness may be thinner. Another example configuration may be a caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 that is only plated on its inner surface in such a way that the plating 444 also extends into the mouth of the container 440, including any threads, whether internally or externally located, that may be present. When threads are plated, coarser thread pitches, such as Acme threads, are desirable to mitigate potential nodulation of the metallic plating 444 on the threads. Yet another configuration example may be a caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 that is only plated on its outside surface.

[00239] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00240] FIG. 42 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440. As illustrated in box 446, the polymeric substrate 442 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique.

Alternatively, as shown in boxes 448 and 450, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 442 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 442 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00241] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 442, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 444 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 452. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 454, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 442 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 456, at least one

caustic/corrosive -resistant metallic plating 444 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 442 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and

electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 458, after the polymeric substrate 442 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 444, the metallic plating 444 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component.

[00242] FIG. 43 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 42 in that polymeric substrate 442 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 460, the polymeric substrate 442 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 442 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 462. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 464, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 466, at least one metallic plating 444 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 442 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00243] Once polymeric substrate 442 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 444, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 442 segments comprising the caustic/corrosive-fluid container 440, as illustrated in box 468. Optionally, as shown in box 470, after plated polymeric substrate 442 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00244] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric

caustic/corrosive-fluid containers can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex caustic/corrosive-fluid container geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before or after plating. Overall, plated polymeric caustic/corrosive- fluid container parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric caustic/corrosive-fluid container parts, components, or component assembly.

[00245] Wearable Plated Polymer Belt Enclosing Battery Cells

[00246] The electronics industry has been exploring wearable electronics as the next big marketable product. A major issue associated with wearable electronics is the battery life of the device. This issue exists mainly because a big battery cannot be packaged in the smaller, wearable electronic device. Another related issue is the heat generated by the battery, which could burn the human skin, especially if worn for long hours. Thus, there is a need for a wearable electronic that protects the human skin from heat generated by the battery, and also is durable and light-weight.

[00247] FIG. 44 illustrates an exemplary wearable belt, constructed in accordance with the present disclosure, generally referred to by reference numeral 472. It is noted that the wearable belt 472, as depicted, is only exemplary and other belt designs and configurations also fit within the scope of the present disclosure. Thus, the wearable belt 472 may deviate substantially from the exemplary belt as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the wearable belt 472 may be any type of belt for wearable electronic devices such as, watches, headbands, and belts worn around the waist. As another non-limiting example, the wearable 472 may form a portion of a frame for wearable eyeglass-shaped electronic devices. The wearable belt 472 may enclose at least one small battery such as, but not limited to, a button-sized rechargeable battery cell 474, which powers an electronic device 476 disposed on, or connected to, the wearable belt 472. As another exemplary embodiment, the wearable belt 472 may enclose at least one curved battery. The wearable belt 472 may include a polymeric substrate 478 at its core and one or more metallic plating 480 applied to one or more exterior surface of the polymeric substrate 478.

[00248] The polymeric substrate 478 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymeric material of the polymeric substrate 478 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass, or other suitable materials. As another option, a layer of thermal insulation material may be placed in between the battery cell 474 and the polymeric substrate 478, which may contact human skin. As an exemplary embodiment, the layer of thermal insulation material may be sol-gal coated on the interior surfaces of the polymeric belt.

[00249] The polymeric substrate 478 may be formed into a desired wearable belt 472 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymeric substrate 478 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymeric substrate 478 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the wearable belt 472 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymeric substrate 478 may be plated with metallic plating 480 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric segments comprising the wearable belt 472.

[00250] The metallic plating 480 may include one or more layers. The metallic plating 480 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the wearable belt 472 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metallic plating 480 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymeric substrate 478 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metallic plating 480 may be formed from any platable metallic material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00251] Optionally, polymeric coatings may also be applied to plated polymeric wearable belt 472 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymeric coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00252] FIG. 45 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the wearable belt 472. As illustrated in box 482, the polymeric substrate 478 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 484 and 486, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymeric substrate 478 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymeric substrate 478 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00253] Following the formation of the polymeric substrate 478, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metallic plating 480 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 488. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 490, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 478 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 492, at least one metallic plating 480 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 478 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming. Optionally, as shown in box 494, after the polymeric substrate 478 has been plated with at least one metallic plating 480, the metallic plating 480 may be supplied with a polymeric coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00254] FIG. 46 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the wearable belt 472. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 45 in that polymeric substrate 478 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 496, the polymeric substrate 478 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymeric substrate 478 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 498. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 500, the prepared polymeric substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 502, at least one metallic plating 480 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymeric substrate 478 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00255] Once polymeric substrate 478 segments have been plated with at least one metallic plating 480, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymeric segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymeric substrate 478 segments comprising the wearable belt 472, as illustrated in box 504. Optionally, as shown in box 506, after plated polymeric substrate 478 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymeric coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00256] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymeric wearable belt can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of the present disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymeric materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex wearable belt geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them together before plating. Overall, plated polymeric wearable belt parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymeric wearable parts, components, or component assembly.

[00257] Furthermore, the plated polymeric wearable belt 472 of the present disclosure may provide electricity to the electronic device 476 as either a main energy source or as a back-up source. Because the exterior surfaces of the plated polymeric wearable belt 472 may ultimately be a metallic plating 480 or a polymer coating, the belt 472 may maintain fashionable qualities. Additionally, human skin is protected because the interior surfaces of the polymeric belt 472 may be plated with metal that can increase thermal emission reducing radiation heat to human skin. The plated polymeric wearable belt 472 also provides thermal insulation between the battery cell 474 and human skin.

Claims

What is Claimed is:
1. A medical component, the component comprising: at least one polymeric substrate forming the medical component and having at least one exposed surface; and at least one metallic plating layer deposited on the at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.
2. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a stretcher, a gurney, and a wheelchair.
3. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a bar, a cross bar, a frame, an arm rest, a foot rest, rims, and spokes for a medical patient transfer apparatus.
4. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a housing, a shaft, a joint, an arm member, a leg member, and a foot member for an external prosthesis.
5. The component of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymeric substrate is formed into one of a bone, a bone joint, and a heart valve for an internal prosthesis.
6. The component of claim 5, wherein the medical component is surrounded in a bio- fluid-compatible outer covering.
7. The component of claim 6, wherein the bio-fluid-compatible outer covering is formed from one of metal -on-metal, metal and plastic combination, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal- on-crosslinked polyethylene.
8. A method of fabricating a medical component, the method comprising: forming a polymeric substrate in a desired shape of the medical component; and depositing at least one metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of the at least one polymeric substrate.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the desired shape is one of a stretcher, a gurney, and a wheelchair.
10. The method of claim 8, wherein the desired shape is one of a bar, a cross bar, a frame, an arm rest, a foot rest, rims, and spokes for a medical patient transfer apparatus.
11. The method of claim 8, wherein the desired shape is one of a housing, a shaft, a joint, an arm member, a leg member, and a foot member for an external prosthesis.
12. The method of claim 8, wherein the desired shape is one of a bone, a bone joint, and a heart valve for an internal prosthesis.
13. The method of claim 12, further including the step of surrounding the medical component in a bio-fluid-compatible outer covering.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the bio-fluid-compatible outer covering is formed from one of metal -on-metal, metal and plastic combination, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal- on-crosslinked polyethylene.
15. A method of fabricating a medical component, the method comprising: forming polymeric substrate segments in a desired shape of the medical component; depositing a metallic plating on at least one exposed surface of each polymeric substrate segment; and joining the polymeric segments by transient liquid phase bonding.
16. The method of claim 15, further including the step of applying a polymeric coating to the joined polymeric segments.
17. The method of claim 15, wherein the desired shape is one of a stretcher, a gurney, and a wheelchair.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein the desired shape is one of a bar, a cross bar, a frame, an arm rest, a foot rest, rims, and spokes for a medical patient transfer apparatus.
19. The method of claim 15, wherein the desired shape is one of a housing, a shaft, a joint, an arm member, a leg member, and a foot member for an external prosthesis.
20. The method of claim 15, wherein the desired shape is one of a bone, a bone joint, and a heart valve for an internal prosthesis.
PCT/US2014/045914 2013-07-09 2014-07-09 Plated polymeric medical products WO2015006422A1 (en)

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US9919502B2 (en) 2014-04-23 2018-03-20 Schaublin Sa Method and apparatus for preparing a surface for bonding a material thereto

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