It is also called by the shortened version—‘chrome’, which is applied to metal parts, and that provides a protective coating with a shiny luster.
Given the properties of the chrome plating process, it finds many applications in the manufacturing industry.
With chrome plating, machine components can be made decorative, and rendered with more properties.
But chrome plating is not a unified concept, rather it is a composition of two types–decorative and hard chrome.
So, let us explore what makes the processes different, and the specific applications for the types.
Given a holistic assessment of the differences, the thickness of the chrome plating on the end-product accounts for the fundamental difference between the two types of chrome plating processes.
Decorative plating serves as a protective coating, and increases the aesthetic appeal. But, hard chrome plating provides many values, such as higher strength, wear resistance, corrosion resistance, among others.
The Plating Process
The chrome plating is done using an electrolytic process. It involves applying chromium plating, at a rate of 25 to 30 microns per hour, to a metal component in an electrolytic bath.
Thorough cleaning of the substrate is the first thing to do in the process. In addition, the substrate should be treated with the relevant chemicals to improve the adhesion.
Subsequently, the component is passed through the electrolytic process, which deposits chromium onto the substrate.
Hard Chrome Plating: Its Uses
With hard chrome plating, the resistance of machine components to wear and corrosion increases. Also, the durability of components improves with hard chrome plating, as it reduces friction between machine parts.
In addition to increasing the lifespan of machine components, hard chrome plating also reduces the maintenance downtime and expenses.
What is more—hard chrome can also help repair damaged or worn-out machine parts.
Application of hard chrome plating on a small or worn-out component can make it enlarge to the correct dimensions.
Again, removing a damaged plating through a chemical process and applying hard chrome plating can even repair a damaged component.
Hard chrome plating can be applied to a broad range of metals to strengthen the machine components. Also, the original properties stay intact.
The plating is applicable to metals, like steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze, among others.
In addition, hard chrome plating can vary in thickness to allow catering to the specific project needs.
Due to the remarkable strength and durability, hard chrome plating finds uses in a variety of applications, such as:
- Agriculture equipment
- Food and beverage equipment
- Lathe beds
- Mechanical and automotive parts
- Mining equipment
- Molds, dies and other forms
- Paper and timber equipment
- Piston rings
- Press punches
- Rollers and bearings
- Rotors and shafts for pumps
- Textile and printing components
- Valves and gates
Given the benefits, hard chrome can be applied to any machine part, including moving parts. Remarkably, the low-friction element arising from hard chrome plating makes it useful for moving parts, such as rotors and pistons.
In addition, hard chrome plating also reduces operating temperatures to increase the lifespan of machine parts.
The easy-to-clean feature of hard chrome plating makes it a popular option for the food and beverage processing industry. And, the plating is used in oil and gas, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries because of its better corrosion resistance.
Among the many other industries where hard chrome plating is used are printing, textiles, mining, agriculture, paper, and manufacturing.
Decorative Chrome Plating: Its Uses
This type of chrome plating finds many uses despite having a limited application spectrum. Decorative chrome plating provides a thin protective coating on stuff, such as tools, utensils, or equipment parts.
However, the strength and durability of this type of chrome plating are lesser than those of hard chrome plating.
A notable benefit of decorative chrome plating is the protection against rust and wear due to exposure to wet or corrosive conditions.
In addition, decorative chrome plating also renders equipment parts shiny, and makes the surface easy to clean, increasing the appeal, especially for consumer products. Again, decorative chrome plating can be an effective low-cost alternative for the expensive chromium plating.
The following are the common applications of decorative chrome plating:
Many car parts, such as bumpers, trim, rocker panels, door handles, and grills, have decorative chrome plating. These parts’ corrosion resistance is increased by the attractive chrome coating, which prevents them from rusting in the rain or snow. There is also the option of polishing the coating to enhance the sheen and appeal.
To increase the longevity and wear resistance, many pieces of hardware and tools, such as wrenches, pliers, sockets, and hex keys, are coated with decorative chrome plating. Tools, with this type of plating, can be used in tough conditions without damaging them.
Decorative chrome plating can be applied to metal kitchen utensils to strengthen their corrosion and heat resistance. In addition, the plating can help to clean the utensils easily apart from increasing the durability and aesthetic appeal. Also, it is needless to say that shiny utensils are attractive to both chefs and home cooks.
For improved longevity and aesthetics, musical instruments can be plated with decorative chrome.
So, the difference between the two types of chrome plating seems to be clear. So, you can choose the one that best suits your requirements.