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topic 0706

Starting a chroming business chroming


A discussion started in 1996 but continuing through 2018

1996

Q. I have never done any Chroming before, but I am Interested in starting a small business chroming wheels, can anybody help me with details of where I can get the Equipment or advice to which equipment is better. I prefer a machine that can chrome alloy or aluminum wheel to mirror shine. Please send brochure or information to:

Kray N [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Biloxi, Mississippi
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs



Electroplating Engineering Handbook
by Larry Durney
from Abe Books

or

1996

A. Hi, Kray:

You can certainly chrome wheels if you wish; lots of people want their wheels chromed or rechromed. But it is rather difficult.

Chrome plating aluminum wheels involves stripping the old finish, polishing, buffing, detergent cleaning, etching, acid desmutting, zincating, nitric acid stripping, re-zincating, cyanide copper plating, buffing again, recleaning, electroless nickel plating, acid copper plating, semi-bright nickel plating, bright nickel plating, chrome plating, and de-ionized water rinsing--as a bare minimum. Waste water treatment and air pollution monitoring and control are a big part of it.

What I am saying is you don't so much buy a machine as build a small factory. If you are interested, see our Introduction to chrome plating. I think you'll find this a helpful introduction. Then you may wish to review a few recommended plating books.

Please study what is involved before buying any chemicals though! The EPA decided that the way to deal with the problem of midnight dumpers (where the disposal company doesn't do it properly) is to hold the generator of hazardous waste legally responsible for it forever regardless of how they dispose of it or how much they spent. Good luck!

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


1997

A. Kray N.,

There are many plating companies currently chrome plating automobile wheels. It is the most difficult, labor and time intensive product to plate. You must also consider the warranty for the wheel produced which is currently 1-3 years. If you are not already familiar with the plating process in general, this is a very difficult starting point. Unless you have a lot of money to lose, I would not consider this project.

Gary Patigler
- Richmond, California



1998

Q. Why wouldn't it be possible to build equipment to repolish aluminum wheels that makes use of electropolishing or anodizing as an alternative to chrome plating? Lots of the wheels on today's cars and light trucks are aluminum, not chrome. Most of them look crummy after five years or so.

David F [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]



1997

A. It absolutely is possible, David. It's probably more a question of aesthetics than anything else. Polished aluminum wheels are nice, and some people will like them better than chrome. But others like the look of chrome, and the bright slightly bluish glint of polished chrome plating can't be matched by polished aluminum.

Only some limited grades of aluminum can be bright dipped and anodized to any aesthetic effect. Most casting alloys, like the majority of today's "alloy wheels" would be mottled gray and poor looking. Bright dipping and anodizing can't fix it because only aluminum can be anodized, not the silicon, copper, magnesium, and other alloying materials. But you usually can buff the wheels to a nice shine and clearcoat them. Good luck!

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



(1999)

Q. WHAT ABOUT THE ELECTRO PLATING PROCESS SOLD IN THE EASTWOOD CATALOG, FROM EASTWOOD?

geronimo veedubs


(1999)

A. That kit is for tin-zinc plating (a functional finish) rather than decorative chrome plating, Geronimo. If you want to spend about a hundred bucks as a learning experience, I suppose the Eastwood kit is fine. But I think you should start by reading our Introduction to Chrome Plating first. Good luck!

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



Starting a chrome & nickel plating business

(2001)

Q. Hi,

I am interested in opening a hard chrome processing plant. I would like some input on how to go about it; I do have experience in working, processing, and transporting. I would like to know what would be more profitable, in terms of size and format to do both chrome and nickel plating. If someone has the information and is keen to pass it along, will be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Ray Garcia
- Barrie, Ontario, Canada


(2001)

A. Why a wet plating shop, when the environmental movement is going to make it more difficult to operate profitably? There's a growing demand for PVD coatings, especially in the area where you are. PVD is a clean, environmentally friendly process. While equipment costs are high, operating costs are low.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
PVD Consultant - San Diego, California



(2003) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am looking into the Chroming Business and need some help if anyone could please give me with some info about Chroming Alloy wheels

Carl R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Harahan, Louisiana


(2003)

A. Hi Carl, we've appended your inquiry to this existing page instead of spawning a duplicative thread.

If you follow the requested links, you'll get a good initial understanding. The next step may be to to locate the suppliers of such plating installations and have them take you on a plant visit to other customers who are chrome plating wheels so you can get the full picture.

Best of luck!

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



(2003)

Q. Hi, I've been starting a motorcycle business now and I need assistance in understanding more about Nickel Chrome plating process in a small scale/for small items to support it. Because I already own a place and building (safely), chemical supplier (legally), and chemical waste agent in my country. I need to know If I could have optional equipment I can make, instead of factory made. Because I know well about electricity. I'll badly wait any respondence and thank you very much.

Deni Pradigdo
SUKSES MOTOR - Salatiga, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia


(2003)

A. There is a lot more to chrome plating than having the equipment. It literally fills books. I would start out looking for a small one by Guffie [Handbook of Hard Chromium Plating]. Good book.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida



To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.



Opening a chrome plating shop

(2003)

Q. I would like to open a chrome shop my building is 2400 sq ft. Would like some help in knowing about supplier and Government regulations, permits, etc.

Bill Crawford
- Temple, Texas


(2003)

Hard Chromium Plating
by Guffie
from Abe Books

or

Water and Waste Control for the Plating Shop
from Abe Books

or

A. Hi, Bill. Without knowing your level of experience it's a bit hard to come up with the best starting point. But please read our Introduction to Chrome Plating and get back to us with more detail on what type of work you envision doing please.

Electroplating was the first EPA categorically regulated industry, and many mid-size plating shops have a full-time person assigned just to environmental and safety compliance issues, so this will be one of the bigger hurdles you'll have to face. You probably could start with an environmental course by Lion Technologies, the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society (NASF), or your local community college, as these are designed to introduce you to the structure of government regulations (worker safety, community right to know, hazardous waste collection, wastewater permitting, etc.) that you inquired about.

You should also consider taking a basic electroplating course available from AESF to get a good feel for the overall issues.

Best of luck!

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


(2003)

A. To emphasize the necessity of environmental compliance. From the Los Angeles Times: The owner of a hard chrome plating shop in Compton, CA, was sentenced to 2 years in federal prison and fined $50,000 after being convicted of illegally dumping about 40 drums of hazardous wastes. He had already paid $86,000 to clean up the contaminated area.

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California
contributor of the year

Finishing.com honored Ken for his countless carefully
researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your hard work
which the finishing world continues to benefit from.



(2003)

A. Am I right in thinking that you are thinking of opening a custom chrome plating business? The government regs are just the start. If you are plating chrome then do your customers want the Trivalent chrome or the old traditional Hexavalent Chrome? Most want Hex chrome.

More regulations, as you now have air emissions for a carcinogen. So someone brings you an old sow's ear and says give me a silk purse. Old diecast, sand cast Harley parts, old "triple plate"; the one with the copper layer over steel and then nickel/chrome -- a real nice battery, the pits don't spread laterally like a duplex nickel, they drill like a bit into the metal. You have to grind them out after stripping the parts of rust, paint, grease, soil, old plating; copper, nickel, chrome, all separate baths, which now contain a hazardous waste.

So now the part is stripped and polished, oh yes polishing for custom chrome; a good young man's sport. Noisy, dangerous, exacting, artful, boring, eye straining -- looking for the faint line that might show through the plating, so you don't have to either copper buff or nickel buff, because then you have to unrack, buff; hope you do not break through the plating layer, rack again and then send through the entire cleaning cycle and plate as needed.

I used to find that I could get 95% of the job done and then some blistering piece of crap pot metal would drag the whole order down. Rejects is what kills most platers, either time spent fixing them or the bad word of mouth it creates. I do not miss it, but did well, supported my family many a year doing it. Loved the art, hated the work.

You cannot charge enough! Aim high and turn 80% of the work offered away; it's either too sick or the customer too cheap. Another common one is that the customer sent the car/bike out to paint or motor overhaul last week or a year ago. This says either I am going to bug the crap out of you for my plating or I am not picking it up for a year because the rest of my [I make too much money and have no life] will not be ready until next year.

Suggestion: get 1/2 down before you work on the metal, and take only cash on completion of the order! Charge for storage! Not even discussed is keeping the plating chemistry in line ... chemist needed! Sorry to be downbeat but this is a business that looks lucrative but the landscape is filled with land mines.

Jon Quirt
- Minneapolis, Minnesota


(2003) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I was wondering what type of tools and other materials you would need to open your own chrome shop? I would like to open one in my area and I don't know where to start, as far as getting things that I would need. Please give me a list and a detailed description of how to go about it.

Thank you,

Cole Wilson
- Elkton, Kentucky


(2003)

A. Cole,

To start with, read the responses that are above your letter. Then use the search engine for a few of the previous answers to the question. Your request is somewhat the same as me saying that I want to be a brain surgeon, where do I buy the stuff so that I can do it in my office.

This is a bit harsh, but it does have some logic to it: forget about the equipment until you have done research on what the EPA is going to expect and check. Then you need to do some serious research on how to use what you will need to do whatever type of chrome plating you intend to do.

Do not expect a bank to loan you money. A court case several years ago decided that since they loaned the money, they are part owner of the shop and are responsible for any fine that you have to pay that is above your ability to pay.

I.e., huge huge fiscal risk that they will not take. To have a shop that might possibly make a go of it, will take upwards of $250,000 and that is with used equipment.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


(2003)

A. Best advise I can give you is go work for someone in a custom chrome plating shop. Offer to rack, clean the shop whatever. Look at all the hassles. Look at all the money going out, not just the money coming in. Look at the expertise required in stripping, polishing, plating, environmental control. Not to mention a customer base that will drive you crazy.

I ignored this same advise 25 years ago and bought a twice-bankrupt shop, after a year I was ready to get out ... took two more years to do so. It went broke two more times after I sold it. I moved and had to set up another one to feed my family, lots of old nickel trim for wood stoves in Maine. I have always thought that if I did it again I would set up to do special die cast repair. Zinc based die cast so very popular in old cars. Pits like the dickens when old. I saw work from a company in Canada that literally made me fall off my chair. A guy was restoring a Jag and the chrome on the trunk was very pitted. I plated this thing several times but could not grind all the pits out nor plate enough copper to buff it smooth. He sent this part to Canada to a special die cast shop. It took nine months and cost him $100.00 (Today's money about $450.00) The part was perfect!

I called them up to express my awe and they were open and told me what they do and invited me to come learn, I should have, but what they did was to 1) Grind off the old plating (Stripping they said just caused too many new pits) 2) Using a dental burr they milled out the corrosion in all of the pits. The deep pits were filled with a die cast rod they made from a scrap piece of die cast. 3) Using an alcohol lamp and a blow pipe they filled the deep pits with die cast. They said this was difficult as the die cast gives no warning of melting and destroying the part. 4) They would copper strike the part and acid copper plate it. 5) buff the part, pushing the hills in to the valleys (moving metal to cover pits) 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14, is repeating the copper plating and buffing, yep like nine times! Some pits will still show, 15) use a little tin/lead solder on the copper plate and continue to plate. Blistering is a problem, grind them out and start over, blending layers until not visible. Once perfect in the copper plate phase 16), nickel, 17) chrome.

What was nice in this scheme is that most of the die cast parts were small, or at least smaller that bumpers and grills. This meant that smaller tanks could be used and that is a very big cost savings in setting up. Careful not to go too small with the tanks; smaller tanks will have more chemical swing. Small soak and electroclean, small rinses, small copper strike, bigger acid copper (due to metal depletion) good size nickel (HARD CHEMISTRY FOR A JOB SHOP, to maintain brighteners) Not too big chrome (Hex chrome).

Jon Quirt
- Minneapolis, Minnesota


(2003)

!! Wow! I had never given any thought to opening my own chrome shop...but after Jon's replies it rates up there with being a nearsighted proctologist or flak jacket tester. Makes me wonder about the dinky local chroming shops and their compliance with the regulations.

Jason Aube
- Flint, Michigan


(2003)

thumbs up signHey guys thank for the Info. Bill Crawford again. I worked as a polisher 20 years ago; the guy that owned the shop didn't let you know about the biz.
Went to Florida and met with AESF they gave me a good contact with someone local. We are talking to a environmental consulting firm. We have 7 acres to build on.

Thank you Jon, Ted, Ken, Jason.

Bill Crawford[returning]


- Temple, Texas



Hi Bill. I see that you already understand the business. Best of luck with it!

For readers who are unfamiliar with plating, I think the advice to take a job in a chrome shop, at least for a summer, is priceless. Without a feel for the day-to-day, it's very hard to know whether you'll like it. And if it's too much effort to take a job a hundred miles away for a few months, you're definitely not ready to own a chrome plating shop :-)

Regards,

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


Starting Nickel/Chrome plating. Is it worth it?

January 3, 2018 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am new here but I have read a few posts. What kind of books, articles you suggest me to read first regarding starting chrome plating? Currently I run a business offering blasting, non stick coatings, dry film lubricants, high temperature coatings and powder coating.
Mostly looking to chrome parts for classic cars, so bumpers would be the biggest objects. I have contacted a supplier and waiting for a quotation.

Do you see it as a business that will eventually die? Is it worth investing? What will happen if some chemicals will be banned? like the EU seems to be willing to do!

Thank you

Matt Vel
Plant shop owner - Maltese islands


April 19, 2018

A. Interesting question!

I do not not know what the state of play where you are but certainly the difference what you've described as offering and adding in a chrome tank is at least double the paperwork and H&S. Of this there is no doubt!

(I may be telling you how to suck eggs here but) Most chrome plating of car bits is first stripping away the existing finish through grinding, copper plating to get a smooth surface, nickel plating to get the corrosion resistance and the chrome plating to finishing...and then highly polishing.

Nearly every private chrome customer I speak to thinks that the plating will fill in the cracks (which it won't!) and although we have some fantastic public customers many have tried to pay us in cash to avoid paying tax, or asked us to chuck small jobs in as an extra. We largely work B2B and actively try to discourage these type of customers at quote stage to scare away those trouble makers who will never pay us.

We do get work from this, but if my target audience was the public and I looked at the cost of installation/upkeep I could not honestly recommend it.

Oliver Gwynne
- Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK



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