How does chrome plating work?

How exactly do you chrome plate an item?

Chrome plating is the process of applying a layer of chromium onto a material, most commonly metal. Although it’s sometimes used for the purpose of decoration, chrome plating can be used for a number of purposes, including the protection of material layers. It’s a fantastic combatant of metal corrosion too.

The process of chrome plating includes five (somewhat basic) stages. First of all, a high amount of attention is paid to the object that is going to receive chrome plating. This could be a number of things, so it isn’t really particular what this might be. A number of chemicals are used in order to completely degrease the metals, ensuring that the surface is completely free of any components that may cause the chrome plating process to fail.

For the next major stage of the chrome plating process, the treated metal with undergo a number of further treatments in order to smooth the surface. Ensuring that the metal surface is as smooth as can be, the chrome plating outcome will result in a much higher degree of integrity over a longer time period. After being completely sure that the surface is smooth, the metal is carefully placed into a vat filled with treatment solution, which allows the metal to be gradually warmed up to the perfect temperature in order to apply optimal chrome plating.

In the final stage of the chrome plating process, the actual plating can begin. A vat is filled with chrome (chromium) components, allowing the compounds to find their way into the metal surface. The amount of time in which the metal remains inside the vat will always depend on the degree of thickness that’s desired for chrome plating.

Chrome plating is a fantastic technology, as it allows metal items to deal with exposure for a number of years. The metal bumpers on the front of vehicles is a fantastic example of chrome plating that holds itself up for decades, only needing general maintenance to keep in top condition.

Interested in chrome plating? Visit our website here for more!

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.

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The Top 10 Facts about Chrome (Metal)

 

Here are some facts about the almost mirror like metal.. Chrome as well as what you need to know If you want something coated in it.

First things first, what is Chrome?

The full name of Chrome is Chromium which is a Metal material, in most cases things are never usually made of solid chrome so when you hear of something which is chrome, what it is really is a thin layer of chrome (plating of chrome) on top of the object which in most cases is steel, aluminum, copper, brass, plastic or even stainless steel.

A top cause of occasional confusion is the fact that people tend to describe any shiny finish as “chrome” even when it really has nothing to do with chromium.

For example, brightly polished aluminum motorcycle parts are sometimes called ‘chrome’ by the lay person. This is because it’s not always easy to tell chrome plating from other finishes if the parts are not side by side.

 

Is all chrome plating almost the same, then?

Not always, as there are two different general applications for chrome plating which are hard chrome plating (called engineering chrome plating) and decorative chrome plating.

Hard Chrome Plating

Hard chrome plating or Industrial Chrome is chrome plating that has been applied as a  heavy coating (usually measured in thousandths of an inch) for wear resistance, lubricity, oil retention, and other ‘wear’ purposes.Some examples would be rollers, piston rings or motorcycle fork stanchions etc.

‘Hard chrome’ is not really harder than other chrome plating, it is called hard chromium because it is thick enough that a hardness measurement can be performed on it, whereas decorative chrome plating is only millionths of an inch thick and will break like an eggshell if a hardness test is conducted, so its hardness can’t really be measured directly.

 

Decorative Chrome Plating

Decorative chrome plating is often called nickel-chrome plating because it always involves electroplating nickel onto the object before plating the chrome (sometimes also involves electroplating copper onto the object before the nickel too). The chrome plating is exceptionally thin, measured in millionths of an inch rather than in thousandths.

When you look at a decorative chrome plated surface, for example a chrome plated wheel or even a car bumper, most of what you are seeing is actually the effects of the nickel plating. The chrome adds a bluish cast (compared to the somewhat yellowish cast of nickel), this then protects the nickel against tarnish, minimizes scratching, and symbiotically contributes to corrosion resistance. But the point is, without the brilliant leveled nickel undercoating, you would not have a reflective, decorative surface.
Restoration Work

When an item or object needs “rechroming”, this actually involves stripping the chrome, stripping the nickel (and the copper if applicable), then polishing out all scratches and blemishes, then plating with copper and mush buffing to squash copper into any tiny pits.

Where do you get your Hard Chrome plating? or Polishing in Birmingham? Polishcraft would be your best bet every time!