A printing company has developed a technology for giving plastic surfaces a luxurious, metal-like finish.

The Metal Face technology can adjust how much light can pass through plastic materials, allowing characters to emerge on smartphones, smartwatches and other products that have the appearance of metal.

Gikodo Co., a company with about 40 employees based in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward, started working on the printing technology three years ago to produce metal-looking nameplates because the metal processing industry was suffering from a shortage of craftsmen.

Unlike metal products, plastics allow light and electric waves to pass through them.

Gikodo offers specialized printing services, such as those for plastic remote controller buttons.

When the company exhibited prototype Metal Face products at a trade show in Osaka in May, major electronics manufacturers showed great interest.

“We believe this technology can be applied not only to smartphones, but also to smart home appliances and automotive instrumental panels,” said Hidenori Sato, chief of Gikodo’s sales division.