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Chrome Plating (Decorative)

Description

Chrome is short for Chromium, a type of metal. Chrome plating is a very popular finish for many decorative applications, especially for the automotive and building industries in which there are many decorative trims and components. It also has industrial uses where, in conjunction with heat treated base materials, it can provide a harder finish (hard-chrome).
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Benefits

Decorative Chrome plating is popular because it is hard wearing, bright and easy to clean. The nickel used in the coating process in conjunction with chromium provides high corrosion resistance. The nickel type used also determines the level of brightness. The chromium coating itself is stain resistant and abrasion resistant which is of appeal for decorative applications in heavier ‘wear and tear’ environments. There are alternative industrial uses for chrome plating (i.e. hard-chrome*), sometimes used for surface maintenance on large tools or equipment (*Electroless Nickel has advantages over “hard-chrome” in many industrial applications – see separate page “Electro-less Nickel”.)

Colour & Aesthetics

Chrome will be ‘bright’ when the substrate is highly polished and coated first with bright nickel (via nickel solution containing brightening agents). It can however appear ‘satin’ or 'matt' if desired.  Matt finishes can be achieved by polishing methods or by using a matt / satin nickel plating process, prior to the chrome layer. Satin chrome is currently a popular treatment for matching to polished stainless steel or brushed aluminium fittings. Chrome has an almost “blue” hue and gives a sense of crisp cleanliness and ‘coolness’.
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Applications

Automotive decals, door handles and trims, tap-ware, architectural fittings, racks, hubs & wheels, furniture and furniture trim, and many, many other items.

Substrates suited to this coating

Decorative chromium can be applied over most metal substrates, but usually ‘undercoated’ with copper and nickel layers first.

Design Cautions

As this is an electrolytic process it is necessary to use jigging, racking or wiring to provide for electrical current conductivity. Some shapes and designs lend themselves more readily to successful plating than others, or may need to be adapted. Please consult your plating adviser prior to finalising design if you intend using this finishing process in your product manufacture.
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Environmental note

Chromium gets a lot of bad press. Chrome solutions can be hazardous and is why we need strict safety procedures in place for handling it in the plating shop. However in its plated form, decorative chrome is quite ‘inert’ and as such should not present a significant environmental health hazard.  Please check your own sources for more information if this is a concern to you.
Please note that the above information is provided as a general guide, for the general information of the reader only, and should not be relied or acted upon as accurate technical advice.

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Copyright © 2009, A Class Metal Finishers Pty Ltd. 6 Waddikee Rd, Lonsdale, South Australia, 5160. Telephone (+ 61 8 8384 4331) Email: acmf@aclassmetal.com.au
Specialising in Copper, Nickel & Chrome Plating, Gold Plating, Silver Plating, Tin Plating, Electroless Nickel, Plating on Plastic (ABS) and Metal Polishing

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