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Removing chrome plating from plastic (ABS) parts for recycling


A discussion started in 2005 and continuing through 2017 . . .

(2005)

Q. We are a plastic recycler trying to remove chrome plating from ABS parts. It appears that a copper layer has been applied to "hold" the chrome layer on.

If this is correct, how is the copper layer first applied to the plastic.

Does anyone have a method by which to remove the plating safely.

Thanks,

Andy Hoehn
plastic reclaiming - Mt Vernon, Indiana, USA


(2005)

A. Try Ferric Chloride solution 20-30 Be preferred, or nitric acid 50% by vol.which will not be as safe and will fume.


Geoffrey Whitelaw, retired chemist
- Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


(2005)

A. Most companies find it more expensive to strip ABS than it is to scrap it. Disposal cost of spent chemicals make a difference now and ABS is fairly cheap.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


A. Hi Andy. The most common plating sequence is probably electroless nickel plating, copper plating, semi-bright nickel plating, bright nickel plating, chrome plating -- but there are variations.

Regards,

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



February 3, 2013

Q. Hi,

How do I remove chrome coating on ABS part?

Sibel Dogan
- Bursa, Turkey


March 8, 2013

A. Hi Sibel. Do you wish to remove only the chrome flash, but leave the nickel in place, re-activate it and chrome plate? Or do you mean you want to remove the nickel and chrome plating layers, and all the other layers, and get back to raw plastic?

Unfortunately, it isn't easy to answer a too-brief question, and the best removal method may depend on what you want to do next. More details please, including whether it's a single part or truckloads. Thanks!

Regards,

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


sidebar

Are chrome plated parts hazardous waste?

June 17, 2014

Q. Looking back to the first question, I have another question for the recyclers: are chromed parts considered as hazardous waste? or does it depend on the type of chrome (e.g. Chromium +6)?

Rob Morais
- Ipanema, Brazil


June 2014

A. Hi Rob. Chrome plated parts have a layer of chromium METAL on them (valence state 0) regardless of whether the original plating solution was trivalent or hexavalent. I don't know enough to be able to comment on individual regulations around the world, but chrome plating is not only non-hazardous, many people have eaten off of it. Here's a many decades old copper-nickel-chrome plated steel tablespoon ...

copper-nickel-chrome plated spoon

... and many knives, serving spoons, trays, etc., have been and are used for food. Good luck.

Regards,

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



August 8, 2016

Q. I hope whoever reads this understands my writing. I have plastic (mostly PP and ABS), that is coated with chromium. How can I remove the chrome so I can get raw PP and ABS to be recycled? Thanks a lot for the answer.

surya hendra
- jakarta, indonesia


August 2016

A. Hi Surya. Unfortunately, the cost of the stripping chemicals plus their disposal will probably exceed the value of the plastic plus its disposal cost. Second opinions are welcome, but I have not heard to the contrary yet.

Regards,

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


September 8, 2016

Q. Hi,
If the costs of stripping/disposal significantly outweigh the efforts to recycle the raw plastics, have you observed any other practices in which chrome plated plastics are effectively recycled?
Would there be any chance of creating a closed loop recycling system? or would we need a new economical technology to be invented?

Rhys Connick
- St Kilda, Victoria, Australia


February 9, 2017

Q. Hello! I want to remove chrome on a car grill completely to have it painted instead. Best way to do it?

Bertil Johansson
- Trollhattan Sweden


February 2017

A. Hi Bertil. You probably can't blast a plastic grill, so you'll be limited to chemical means. I think you should send it to a shop for removal of the chrome, nickel, and copper layers because it involves expertise, not just toxic chemicals. If available, a new unplated grille will probably be a cheaper and better start. Good luck.

Regards,

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

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