Plating on 3D printed ABS resins?
Thanks for the advice!
These SLA resin printed parts are... tricky to plate. As you rightly mentioned, smoothness hampers adhesion for e.g. a palladium colloid needed for electroless plating (or the seed layer for electroplating), so the guys that plate injection molded chrome plated auto parts use chromic acid, hydrochloric acid, potassium permanganate, or any number of other strong oxidizers. Sandblasting will work as well, but not inside complex waveguide assemblies.
Unlike (from what we could gather) most injection molded parts, these SLA parts are porous... not as much as FDM parts, but enough to leave enough residual material that risks contaminating subsequent plating baths.
The other problem is, of course, that students (specifically EE students) and strong oxidizers don't mix well either.
What we really want is a way to get copper on the parts (including inside the waveguide parts) that is cheap, safe, does not require special equipment, and won't peel if you look at it funny. The Tollens' process is cheap(ish) and safe(ish), but the process recipe is still a bit cumbersome and the resilience leaves much to be desired.