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Black Chrome Plating

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Q. Black Chrome, is there such a thing, and how similar is it to regular chrome (other than color of course)? Interested in Black Chroming Cobra Kit Car parts that would normally be regular chrome.

Wayne McAllaster
Fremont, California


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A. Black chrome is a beautiful color, is very weather durable and is done by a fair amount of shops. It does have a tendency to show a silver color if it is significantly scratched, but nowhere as bad as black nickel or dyed or chromated parts.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

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Q. Thanks, James:

So then, there is such a thing as Black Chrome! Is it basically the same process/product as regular chrome? I wonder why more of it isn't seen on custom car/bikes? I have not been having any luck finding any shops that do it, and haven't had any luck on the net finding out more information about it. I've been told that there is no such thing, and that black nickel or dyed chrome is most people refer to when talking about Black Chrome. Your input will stimulate my quest, thanks again. Wayne

Wayne McAllaster , returning
Fremont, California


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A. Hi, Wayne. Check our jobshops directory (or the banner at top of this page) for plating shops that do black chrome

'Black chromium' has a couple of different looks. If you are old enough to remember when smoked glass was "in", there were residential and commercial dining tables and coffee tables which were 'black chrome' plated and the chrome looked like gray tinted glass--hard to describe--bright, sort of like chrome, but smoky. That's for decorative use like on a car.

The reason it was "out" is that tastes change and it's costlier than bright chrome. But it's having a great resurgence of popularity.

There also is "optical" black chromium; it looks like carbon black, sort of like black wrinkle paint but with exceptionally fine wrinkles, and is used to absorb light on the inside of optical stuff like microscopes and binoculars. I believe that black chrome still makes the most effective passive solar collectors.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. Is Black Chrome used on handguns, and is it as durable as other normally used gun protective items? thank you

Steve Bukovac
- Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania


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A. I'm not real familiar with handguns, so I can't say too much, but I have heard of it and I don't know any reason why black chromium wouldn't be a fine finish for a handgun.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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thumbsup2I just wanted to thank you guys for having this thread here! I have been trying to get my wheels black-chromed for months! What a great resource...Thanks again!

Tony (Vipermad) Rickard
- Newport, Rhode Island

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Q. CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT WEBSITE I CAN CONSULT, TO COMPARE BLACK CHROME AND BLACK NICKEL, I WANT TO SEE DIFFERENT COLOURS AND SHADES THEREOF, AS WELL AS PRO'S AND CONS OF EACH.

JOHANNES JACOBUS LE GRANGE
- KLERKSDORP, SOUTH AFRICA


A. Hi, Johannes. Sorry, I don't know of comparison pictures on line. Black nickel can be used for interior decorative parts, and it can be used for exterior wear parts, but I don't think you'd find it satisfactory as a decorative finish for exterior parts.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 13, 2009

A. JOHANNES of KLERKSDORP, SOUTH AFRICA asked about comparison pictures. This is a website I stumbled upon that may help. It shows different types of chrome plating done by one plating company.

www.reliableplating.com/blackchrome.html

Click on the dropdown list to see some other type of plating.

I hope it helps.

Rob McCarthy
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


August 14, 2009

Hi, Rob. Thanks. These appear to me to be computer generated graphics rather than actual pictures :-) ... but anything is much better than nothing. Thanks again.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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I've been looking into black chrome because I have a z3 BMW that I've been working on for a car show coming up. There is a chrome paint that after you spray black base on the car and then again chrome is sprayed on and then cleared. Just to let you know a little about black chrome paint
house of kolors has this paint =>

Raye Storts
- West Texas


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Thanks, Raye. Some of this site's supporting advertisers offer "Chrome-look paint" but we like to call it "chrome-look" rather than "chrome" or "spray chrome" so that readers don't get misled and confused. =>

Black chromium electroplating is one thing, while paint that looks something like it is something very different -- just as "gold-tone" paint is very different than real gold.

An application for chrome-look paint is that it is impractical to black chromium plate an entire automobile because the metal must be polished or every weldline, seam and mark will show, whereas painting the car with black "chrome-look paint" may be far more practical.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

House of Kolor Kandy Red
goldtouch

nikolas


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To all inquiring about black chrome, It is absolutely beautiful! I have a "06 R1 and I just bought a set of custom black chrome rims for it this summer.First ones from this dealer special made. Ten times prettier than chrome! Almost as someone said like the tables or windows you see (like a mirror but black too, a must see)

TODD ANDREWS
- WAREHAM, Massachusetts


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Q. Can a part that is already chromed be re-chromed with black chrome

I have some parts for my Harley I would like to have done if so.

Glenn Puzino
- Brick, New Jersey


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A. Yes, Glenn. The shop will strip the existing chrome, probably buff the nickel plating, then do black chrome plating on the parts.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. Does the original perfect condition chrome have to be removed prior to applying Black Chrome? Are there different shades of Black Chrome? (lightly tinted to solid black).

Bruce Barrett
streetrod interiors - Arrington, Tennessee


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A. Yes, the chrome must be removed; but ninety nine percent of the plating is the underlying nickel, and it will probably be possible to save that. Both "smoked glass" and jet black are available, Bruce. Feel free to listen to our Podcast Interview with Willie World. We also have an Introduction to Chrome FAQ that you might find interesting.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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I have a bicycle that's black chrome straight from the Schwinn factory in 1988.

black chrome plating 1  black chrome plating 2  black chrome plating 3

RIC
- La Canada, California


April 8, 2008

The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers used black chrome during the 80's. I just put on a set of Russel steel braided lines that are that way.

David Harrod
- Leavenworth, Kansas


November 4, 2008

Chrome has a history . The original chrome was brighter and more a blue tint. The original chrome process had a number of limitations. Notice most recessed areas of older vehicles were painted or hidden. The term chrome rob means the chrome did not go there, so you would see a chrome color to nickel color definition line. A new chrome -more environmentally friendly is also chrome but less in brightness, longevity, and scratch resistance. The new chrome being thinner tends to not show the nickel definition line as well. The new chrome has more a gold or brown tint. Black chrome is an extension of the new chrome. Therein relatively speaking the black chrome will scratch like the new chrome and the scratch will be more apparent because it is a darker color on nickel. The typical attraction to black chrome is the change in degree of black brought on by the surrounding change in light. Platers have their own individual black so be careful with a generalized request or expectation for black chrome.

Trevor McBride
- Conneaut, Ohio


April 2009

Thanks, Trevor. Lots of good info in your posting. But you are not correct that black chrome started with the new environmentally-friendly trivalent chromes. Black chrome was around long before trichrome (I was with Atotech when we were marketing black chrome, and later when we became the first supplier of trivalent chrome plating). I'm confident that most if not all black chrome is still hexavalent chrome.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Shadow Chrome Black-out Coating Kit


January 23, 2009

We put in a black chrome plating bath in early 2008 and the process has been well accepted by several of our customers. We also did the wheels on the first 1/50 Hurst Vipers that recently sold at Barrett Jackson for $275,000.

black chrome plating

Cost is about 30% more than regular chrome.

Don Unrein
- Santa Ana, California


April 5, 2009

Q. I am in the process of restoring a 1950's Schwinn Bicycle. It was mentioned to me that I should consider black chrome for some parts of this bike. Specifically I was thinking about black chroming the sprocket and crank. This would go nicely with the black anodized rims I am working with. I am wondering if you think it is worth the expense given the short longevity of this particular plating method I have been reading about? If you do think this plating method would work well with this particular application could you refer me a plater that could do justice to my current project? I also work with custom Harley Davidson choppers, so I have the potential to bring the right facility a good amount of work.

Thank you for your consideration.

John

John Gladhart
hobbyist refurbisher - Monrovia, California
outdated


April 13, 2009

A. Hi, John. Black chrome is quite durable, but I can't say what is worth it to you. Some shops who do black chrome, and who make this site possible for you, are shown in the banner ad at the top of the page. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 11, 2009

Q. If black chrome is an electroplating process, is there any reason it would need to air dry to fully cure? I'm getting some parts black chromed and this is what the plater told me, but it doesn't sound quite right.

Chris Hughson
- Rochester, New York


June 11, 2009

A. Hi, Chris. It sounds to me like you are a getting chrome color paint, not real chrome plating. Please see our Introduction to Chrome Plating for a fuller explanation. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 24, 2009

Here's a picture of a black-chromed wheel, next to a standard polished wheel.

www.hummerproducts.com/Black-Chrome-Wheels-Both-We.jpg

If you go to Google Pics, and try "black chrome", you'll get a tremendous selection!

Hope the link works.

Ted DeWeese
- Utica, Pennsylvania


February 8, 2010

Hello, Can this finish be applied to an aluminum part that also has some rubber seals attached to it(i.e. window trim pieces) These are the window surround trim off a BMW.

Thanks

Jason Homrighaus
- Amsterdam, New York


April 9, 2010

Q. I noticed a question here about black chrome finish on firearms. Back in the 1960's, black chrome was a pretty popular custom finish on firearms, particularly handguns. It has excellent resistance to wear and corrosion, and looks a lot like a blued finish. With the popular use of stainless steel in firearms today, you just don't see much plating being done.

Walter Jarboe
- Tifton, Georgia, USA


June 24, 2010

A. My understanding of the use of coatings on firearms is that it is not a plating at all, as that would chip and scratch too easily. Firearms are coated with titanium nitride (for a gold color) and titanium aluminum nitride or titanium carbon nitride (for a gray color). These are the same coatings used to harden machine tools and actually integrate into the substrate rather than surface coat it.
Hope this is accurate - can anyone else confirm this?
Andy G.

Andy Gravelle
- Santa Rosa, California


June 25, 2010

A. Hi, Andy. PVD coatings like those that you mentioned can be used on guns, and sometimes are, but the rest of your statement isn't quite accurate.

Well done electroplating can adhere perfectly. The inside of gun barrels, including huge caliber naval "guns" is often chrome plated. There is no essential difference in the way PVD coatings coat a surface versus the way electroplated coatings do. Both "grow" on the surface so that there is actual metallurgical connection to the substrate (as opposed to paint, which adheres only through mechanical keying).

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 29, 2010

Q. Hi,

Regarding the black chrome plating, what would happen if I only do a 1 minute nickel strike (instead of a proper bright nickel plating) before I have my workpiece go into black chrome?

We've tested 1000 pieces samples and have 20% of them defected with peel-off problem.

Is that the main cause of such high volume of NC?

Thanks

John Wolf
- Malaysia

October 31, 2010

A. Hi, John.

No, I don't think that is the problem. Heavier nickel plating produces more brightness and reflectivity, but the thickness of the nickel plating should not affect the adhesion. You haven't yet described the substrate, the pretreatment, the other layers of plating, etc., and I think the problem is elsewhere. When the plating peels, what do you see on the inside of the blister and on the substrate underneath the blister?

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 1, 2010

Q. Hi Ted

I was amazed by your quick response, and yes, I should give more details.

Here's my process :

1. Ultrasonic soak clean
- UDYPRxx 110 = 55~65 g/l
- Temp = 60 ~ 70'c
- Duration = 5 min

2. Normal soak clean
- UDYPRxx 110 = 55~65 g/l
- Temp = 60 ~ 70'c
- Duration = 5 min

3. Cathodic clean
- A-CLxxN = 10~15
- Sulfuric ACID = 10~12%
- Temp = Room temp
Duration = 30 sec

4. Acid dip
- HCl Acid = 10~12%
- Temp = Room Temp
- Duration = 30 sec

5. Nickel Strike
- Ni Chloride = 200~220 g/l
- HCl Acid = 60~90 g/l
- Voltage = 3~5v
- Temp = Room Temp
- Duration = 45 sec

6. Activation
- Chromic Acid = 3gm/l
- Duration = 20 sec

7. Black Chrome
- Chromic Acid = 400~430 gm/l
- B400 = 25~35 gm/l
- Voltage = 5~8v
- Temp = 18~24'c
- Duration = 7 min

8. Hot water rinsing
- Temp = 70~80'c
- Duration = 5 sec

* there are 2~3 water rinsings after each process

I hope this should help

John Wolf
- Malaysia

November 2, 2010

A. Hi, John. This sounds like a robust treatment cycle. I am not an expert in your treatment cycle, but I don't understand why the nickel plated parts are "activated" in chromic acid. It would seem to me that a dip in an oxidizing acid would tend to passivate the nickel rather than activate it. Also, your "cathodic clean" step is a bit unusual (depending on the substrate) -- most treatment cycles would have an alkaline electroclean step instead. What is the substrate you are plating onto? Thanks.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 9, 2010

A. 1. The activating step in 6 using chromic acid would seem to passivate the nickel. I thought so too at one time. But (for conventional bright chrome plating) I've dipped my parts in the first drag out of the chromium tank (10 secs), followed by regular chromium plating, seems to somewhat improve the chrome coverage.
2. Yes. The acidic cathodic clean seems a bit unusual to me as well.
3. The woods nickel strike in 5 , suggests a high probability of a substrate of stainless steel.
4. I've plated black chrome directly on stainless steel using below process sequence with water rinses in between :
a. Soak Clean
b. Anodic Clean (VERY IMPORTANT)
c. Acid Dip (HCl)
d. Black Chrome

SK Cheah
- Penang, Malaysia

January 31, 2011

I've got a black chrome raleigh burner. Here's a pic --

black chrome plating 5

Alan harwood
- Lowestoft, U.K.


April 27, 2012

Q. I am looking at purchasing some parts for my truck that I would eventually like to get black chromed. The 2 finishes the products are now available in are either polished stainless steel and powdercoated carbon steel.

Which would be more conducive in terms of longevity (against chipping/flacking/peeling/rusting/etc) and which would be easier/cheaper to get black chromed?

Any other advantages or disadvantages with stainless vs carbon steel?

Much appreciated!

Christopher Grotjahn
- Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

November 14, 2012

A. Hi Christopher.

Getting the powder coating 100% off might be an issue, so if you are intending to one day apply black chrome, I'd go with the stainless steel. Stainless should also prove very corrosion resistant. Good luck.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 13, 2012appended

Q. We are a small arms manufacturer and are looking for coatings for a conceal carry gun. I have been told to try black Chrome but cannot find any info on it.

Jim Bruchas
- Pevely, Missouri

November 14, 2012

A. Hi Jim. We appended your inquiry to a thread about black chrome plating which should answer most of your early questions. Feel free to follow up with further questions.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 7, 2013

Q. I was just wondering why black chrome isn't seen more on auto parts, besides wheels. Would it work okay on vehicle bumpers?

Cameron Latham
- Abilene, Texas, USA


April 8, 2013

A. Hi Cameron. I have seen black chrome plated decorative trim on automobiles, although I don't recall seeing a black chrome bumper. There was a time, back when I first started driving, that bumpers were bumpers, and expected to occasionally kiss, so a scratch in a black chrome bumper, which revealed shinier nickel plating under it might have been a problem. Today, it seems that cars are never expected to touch each other, and reimbursement of damage is expected if they do; so "bumpers" is an oxymoron today, and black chrome bumpers are probably acceptable.

But color matching may be another issue, as black chrome ranges from a very subtle smokiness to quite dark.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 27, 2013

Q. Hi I just stumbled across your forum, I have a Black Chrome problem. If you can help me it would be gratefully appreciated.
I have restored a classic 80's motorcycle and have an original Black Chrome exhaust, it has been rubbed or polished out in an approx. area of 170 mm x 120 mm so the coating has lifted and the lighter coat is showing through. This is really bugging me; if you have any suggestions or advice it would help me sleep at night.
Thanking you in advance.

Frank

FRANK JONES
Printing - Hertfordshire, England


September 27, 2013

A. Hi Frank. Short of sending it back to a plating shop, trying a very light spray of high temperature paint is probably your only fix.
But if your sleep is being disturbed, maybe it's a streetlight reflecting off the lighter area and shining in your eyes; drawing the shade might be a third option :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 30, 2013

thumbsup2Thanks Ted I thought as much I best leave it alone, over in England we don't seem to be big on black chrome plating. I appreciate the reply

All the best.
Frank

FRANK JONES
Printing - Hertfordshire England



Black chrome plating on stainless steel

May 9, 2014

Q. Please suggest me the successful procedure to do Black Chrome on stainless steel parts. With little bit wear resistance property and consistent and uniform color.

Complete step by step procedure will be better for my understanding. Also tell me the testing criteria of Black chrome.

shafi mirza
manufacturer - sialkot, punjab, pakistan
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^

3606-7

May 2014

A. Hi cousin Shafi.

In principle, you clean the parts, activate them with a Wood's nickel strike process, bright nickel plate them, then chrome plate them in a chrome plating solution that has been deliberately contaminated with materials that cause the deposit to be black.

Testing is not arbitrary, but is done to try to insure that the finish will meet your needs, and we're not sure what those needs are: Are you trying to make optical parts for binoculars, telescopes, & cameras, or are you trying to impart a decorative look to automotive or bicycle components? Are they interior automotive parts or exterior? Why is wear resistance important -- is it a machine part, or do you just want reasonable resistance when people touch it? Generally a CASS accelerated corrosion test is run, informal adhesion tests like bending sheetmetal around a dowel to look for peeling and/or more formal adhesion testing is usually done, and there are wear tests like Taber abrasion, but they may be more severe that the chrome can withstand or needs to withstand.

This site has hundreds of friendly and knowledgable readers who would like to help you, but your request for "complete step by step procedure" may not be reasonable. Chrome plating books run over 200 pages (which of those pages would you like them to omit in their answer?), and people who have read those books and have years of practical plating experience still come here for help because they are having problems :-)

A general guideline for metal finishing questions is that if you want an answer that can be given in fewer words than your question, you'll probably get it here; if you need an answer that takes more words than your question, people may not be able to answer it, and a book is usually a better approach. My honest advice is, if you don't already have substantial plating experience, try to find someone in Pakistan who knows how to do black chrome plating and retain them. Best of luck!

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


July 20, 2014

Q. I am restoring an '82 Suzuki and it has what I thought was black chrome on the exhaust pipes, however I bought a genuine old stock new exhaust heat guard to replace the one missing on the bike. The finish on it looks like some sort of black dye. It is definitely not paint.

3606-8a 3606-8b

The whole exhaust system has been done the same way so the coating is able to tolerate high heat temperature. Do you know what this coating is and how can it be replicated?

John Irvine
- Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand


July 2014

A. Hi John. Going just from appearance, while ruling out finishes that are not suitable for exterior automotive application, my guess is that it is indeed black chrome plating.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey



September 10, 2014

Q. Hi,

I'm looking to get some Black Chrome plating done of some high-powered rifle cartridges, made of brass. Is it possible to apply this coating to brass parts? And is it possible for me to do it? (I have a fairly good grip of inorganic chemistry), if so, I imagine I'm going to need to read a book or two about it, so do you have any pointers of where I might be able to go to acquire the information I will need to plate these cases?

Thanks

Kieran Chambers
- Perth, WA, Australia


September 2014

A. Hi Kieran. I don't know whether nickel + chrome plating is appropriate for rifle cartridges, both as a finish that will function properly, and as one which will not embrittle the brass.

Further, while nothing is impossible, and a determined artist or hobbyist can achieve wonders, I also don't want to leave you with the false impression that black chrome plating is a casual hobby; it's an industrial science that involves carcinogenic processes, and the whole world is working to minimize or eliminate it :-(

I don't think anyone can even tabulate all the millions of dollars that have been spent by the aircraft industry and the U.S. military in working to find less toxic substitutes for it. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Chromium Plating
by Weiner & Walmsley


September 29, 2014

A. If you are seeking the black for cosmetic reasons, there are blackening agents that will color/oxidize the brass for you. Otherwise, like Ted said, the process for nickel and black chrome plating is rather not safe.

Justin Brooks
- Rock Island, Illinois USA


September 30, 2014

A. You could blacken them a lot easier by just dipping them, after cleaning, in some liver of sulfur solution. What effect this would have on the firearm I don't know - but the coating (unlike plating) is of negligable thickness and won't change the dimensions of the cartridge much.

dave wichern Dave Wichern
- The Bronx, New York


October 3, 2014

A. Hi Kieren

When a cartridge is fired, the neck expands to seal the chamber against the high pressure gasses. As the bullet leavs the muzzle, the pressure drops and the neck contracts to allow easy extraction. The spring properties of brass is ideally suited to this which is why it is universilly used. Chrome plating is hard and cracks easily under stress which explains why the few 'silver' coloured cartridges are nicke;l plated.

Ted and others have pointed out the hazards of chrome plating but not the expense of setting up, disposal of used chemicals etc.. It gets worse. A cartridge is a small deep bottle shape and will fill up with each station of the process and transfer contaminating chemicals to the next stage ( there are several!)so each must be plugged (including the primer pocket) and then jigged to get current to each.

I would go with Dave and use a sulphide process - but do make certain the cases are really clean. That is chemist clean not engineer clean!

Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

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