The ins and outs of chrome plating

Though we all see chrome in our day to day lives, not many people know about it. So, just what exactly is Chrome and how do you make it? Find out in our latest blog right here!
What exactly is chrome?

Chrome (short for chromium), is a metal that is applied to the surface of an object. A product cannot be made of solid chrome, instead a thin layer is applied in a manner that’s either chrome plating, chrome dipping or chroming. The objects in which chrome can be applied to are endless, yet they’re mostly made up of steel. Other elements that can be used are copper, brass and aluminium.

What’s good to remember is that, just because something holds a shiny finish doesn’t mean it has a chrome finish. Many people would say that aluminium motorbike parts that have been polished to a high level of brightness are “chrome”, yet they’re actually not.

So, how exactly can you tell the two apart? It can be difficult at times to see differences, but when they’re compared up close, chrome has itself a massive advantage over a simple polished metal. Chrome plating is a highly reflective method, holding a bluer and more specular finish than others.

Chrome plating will reflect everything, holding a fantastic finish that cannot be put into words.

What’s the difference between the chrome processes?

Honestly? Nothing!

Chrome is applied to surfaces through a process called ‘electroplating’, which gives an even level of application on all areas of the surface. It isn’t just dripped on either, so electroplating is the only process used in this manner.

It’s also good to know that even though they’re all applied in the same manner, not all chrome processes will offer the same outcome. There are two separate applications of chrome plating: “hard chrome plating” and “decorative chrome plating”.

hard chrome plating
An example of chrome plating

So, what are hard and decorative chrome plating?

Hard Chrome Plating

Not many people would have an experience with hard chrome plating, as it’s a process of chrome plating where the application of the coat is fairly heavy. The coat is applied in this manner for wear resistance, oil retention and various ‘wear’ purposes that may have an effect on the surface. Some examples would be piston rings.

Decorative Chrome Plating

Decorative chrome plating is regularly called nickel-chrome plating, simply because it involves electroplating nickel onto the object prior to plating it with chrome. The nickel plating process provides a layer of nickel which gives the surface smoothness, corrosion resistance, and even reflectivity. The chrome plating applied is exceptionally thin.

What other questions do you have on chrome plating?

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