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Encounter – the Audi Technology Magazine 2/2012
The circular structure looks like a honeycomb, maybe even a crater – the image from the scanning electron microscope lets the imagination run wild. It may be hard to believe, but this material is actually chromeplated polymer. What is special about it is that the circular opening has been put here intentionally by a special chemical process. Dr. Bertram Reinhold from Materials Technology, Hardness/Corrosion explains: “We drop acid onto the surface of the chrome-plated polymer. This eats through the various layers to the carrier material, the plastic.” Using the images from the scanning electron microscope, the specialists can then determine whether the chrome layers meet Audi’s strict criteria. This image, for instance, shows that the remaining surface structure is chrome, while the bottom of the honeycomb is plastic and the side walls are nickel. “Layering of this kind protects from environmental influences and ensures durable quality over the lifecycle of the car,” explains Reinhold.