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Decorative Chrome Plating

Decorative chrome plating is sometimes called nickel-chrome plating because it always involves plating nickel before plating the chrome. The chrome plating in decorative chrome plating is exceptionally thin, measured in millionths of an inch rather than in thousandths. It is still a very hard surface, but simple ‘anvil’ type hardness measurements don’t detect the hardness because the anvil just punches through such a thin coating.

When you look at a decorative chromium plated surface, such as a chrome plated wheel or truck bumper, most of what you are seeing is actually the nickel. The chrome adds a bluish cast (filtering the somewhat yellowish cast of the nickel), and it protects against tarnish, and minimizes scratching. But the point is, without the brilliant leveled nickel undercoating, you would not have a reflective, decorative surface.

Some metals, like zinc die-castings, cannot be directly nickel-plated but must be copper plated first. Other materials, like aluminum, cannot be copper plated until they have been zincated.

Chrome plating is hardly a matter of dipping an article into a tank, it is a long involved process that often starts with tedious polishing and buffing, then cleaning and acid dipping, zincating, and copper plating. This may be followed by buffing of the copper, cleaning and acid dipping again, and plating in two or three different types of nickel-plating solution, all before the chrome plating is done.

Categories: Mustang Tech

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