Getting Started in Chrome Plating Business
A discussion started in 2003 & continuing through 2017(2003)
Q. Would you tell me exactly what equipment I would need to get started in chroming business.Jim Noel
- Lacombe, Louisiana, USA
A. Please see our Chrome Plating Tutorial FAQ as a good starting point, Jim. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
A. Let's see, about $100,000 for the required equipment, safety equipment, lab and waste treatment for a small shop, say 30 gals. Then, you will need to read about 3 books on it and spend a 6 month apprenticeship in a facility that does that type of work. Watch out for zoning! no one wants a chrome shop in their area. This means an industrial site, normally at high rent. A minor boo boo in compliance with the haz waste/metal finishing/ plating statutes can cause thousands of dollars in fines.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
Q. Mr Mooney, I am author of this letter. Thank you for your concern for myself and the environment, but I am not going into this with my eyes shut. Please respond to my question; Exactly, what equipment do I require to start a business in chrome plating?
Can't anyone give a clear, concise answer to this question? Is this an area concerning national security? Please answer the question! ThanksJim Noel
- Lacombe, Louisiana USA
A. Hi again Jim,
The problem is that when a topic fills entire shelves of libraries, requires a week of introductory training to start, is the subject of at least a dozen monthly periodicals around the world, and when there are hundreds of patents guiding what you can and can't do depending on what you are willing to license, and there are chapters upon chapters of EPA regulations, OSHA regulations, and local regulations, how can anyone summarize the equipment list for you in a length and time frame commensurate with a posting in a public forum? You don't buy 2 or 3 catalog items, you build a factory, with all of the thousands of items that that entails. I spent my entire career in this field, and although I don't do consulting anymore, it would take a consulting assignment of al week to do just a preliminary design for what needs to be bought.
Do you really mean decorative copper nickel chromium plating or do you mean something else? Do you intend to do rework, which is a whole additional set of things? Do you intend to also chrome plate aluminum, which is yet another whole multi-step pretreatment process and brings zincating and electroless nickel plating into the mix as well? Do you intend to chrome plate plastic, which is a whole 'nother pretreatment line? Stainless steel, which requires a Wood's Nickel pretreatment?
Here's my list of the equipment you need:
- A building with a proper concrete floor, trenching, diking, and secondary containment as required by local laws.
- Corrosion proof polyester lining on the floor as a minimum, but preferably a waterproof membrane under the concrete as well.
- Complete mechanical polishing and buffing equipment for polishing before plating, after copper plating, and to remove minor chrome burns. This is just for steel, and assumes you will not attempt to chrome plate any aluminum, zinc diecast, stainless steel, or plastic.
- Process tanks including soak cleaner, electrocleaner, acid dip, cyanide copper plating tank, bright acid copper plating tank, semi-bright nickel plating tank, bright nickel plating tank, chrome plating tank, dryer, and generous number of rinse tanks between each process.
- Chrome strip tank, nickel strip tank, nickel activation tank with associated rinses.
- Boiler, heating coils, temperature regulators for the cleaner tanks, copper plating tanks, nickel plating tanks, hot rinses, and dryer.
- Chiller, cooling coils, temperature regulator for the chrome tank.
- Local exhaust ventilation system for all heated and noxious tanks, with packed bed scrubbers, and dry mist chrome section in compliance with Chromium MACT standards. Separate ventilation system, of course, for cyanide tanks. Separate diking and secondary containment for cyanide area per OSHA regulations. Cyanide detectors and cyanide antidote kit.
- Air makeup system.
- Anode and cathode copper, anode baskets, anode bags, lead anodes for chrome tank, bussing, rectifiers.
- Air agitation system and air spargers for all tanks requiring agitation.
- Plating racks
- Tank filtration systems for copper tanks and nickel tanks.
- Carbon purification equipment.
- Deionizer for final rinse.
- Miscellaneous accessory and auxiliary equipment.
- Initial tank charges including cleaners, acid dips, copper, nickel, and chrome plating solutions, stripping solutions, proprietary brighteners, wetting agents, levelers.
- Waste water treatment system in compliance with 40CFR413.
- Waste holding area to hold waste between manifested pickups.
- Personnel protective equipment including goggles [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], protective gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], apron [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], boots, face shields, Scot Airpak. Safety harnesses for entering tanks.
- Laboratory with Hull cells, micrographic equipment, thickness testers, miscellaneous glassware, stirrers, hotplates, etc.
I probably forgot a few things, but this is all the free consulting time you can expect until you have attended a plating school, have joined AESF, have read at least one book on chrome plating, and read one of the "must have" plating books cover to cover. Best of luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
A. Well, to do that you have to let us know what you want. Hard or engineering chrome or decorative chrome. If decorative, with copper nickel, copper nickel nickel or duplex or triplex nickel under the chrome. Large parts or small parts?
What thru put? Do you want to over build and hope to grow enough to fill it, or a more modest size with the possibility that it will be too small in a couple of years if you are really good. What level of a laboratory do you plan to have?
What method of waste treatment do you plan. What will your local, county, state and federal EPA allow you to use/do? What type of exhaust system/fume scrubber will be required for your area? Dear old air quality folks. Can you find a landlord that will rent to you if he knows that you are planning to do chrome plating. His/her liability is in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Plan on harassment from class action lawsuits as soon as you file your first title III report. On the home page, section 4, the first two books are virtually mandatory. Look for a small book by Guffie, Hard Chromium Plating. A low tech reference is Hard chrome plating--Contact Hard Chrome Consultants in Cleveland, OH. PS: the author is dead. His son has the same name.Most of these books will have several disclaimers. The last two are not really current, but have good information. A personal observation, anyone that has to ask what equipment to buy for chrome plating, has not done their homework, so I will question how wide open your eyes really are. This is not meant as a nasty comment, just a fact of life.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
Thank you very much, you have been more helpful than you realize.Jim Noel
- Lacombe, Louisiana, USA
A. Jim I live in UK and worked in electroplating for many years I have experience on bright/decorative chromium, also hard chromium. Once you have the proper setup the plating process is fairly straight forward i.e.. any polishing of base material done first, the item is then wired or jigged with care to make sure you have a firm connection put through the alkaline cleaning tanks. This is best done with soaking first then transfer to an electrolytic cleaner to remove any stubborn grease or polishing compound. After rinsing through clean flowing water, the next step is the acid dip; this is only dilute about 10% hydrochloric acid to make sure surface is clean. After rinsing again, twice in fresh flowing water, next is the cyanide copper plate. This again is to ensure surface is clean as any grease marks will show up as bare patches in copper after rinse in static dragout. Then clean rinses in fresh flowing water. The item can be plated with acid copper for extra brightness or put straight in bright nickel bath. After nickel plating to required finish, the item is again rinsed through a static dragout. Then clean flowing water and without delay put in the chromium plating tank. Making sure you get a good contact, the item is hit with a high current at first to make sure of good coverage all over as chromium sometimes struggles to get in all the nooks & crannies. The current is then reduced and, after sufficient plating, the item is again rinsed in a static dragout before thoroughly rinsing again in clean flowing water. The item is then dried after going through a hot clean rinse. There you have it, your freshly plated item. Hope this has been of help wish I could live & work over there with you, but feel free to ask if you need any more advice. SteveSteven Furmage
- Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK
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