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Chrome Plating - Alternative


An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2007 ...


Q. Is there any alternative for Cr plating in aesthetic look with basic properties?

Process Engr - Chennai, TN, India


A. Hi, Aravindhan. Chromium is one of the 92 naturally occurring elements, and what distinguishes one from the other is their basic properties. So the answer to all such inquiries is: no, there is no alternative to Cr plating with all of the same basic properties; but, yes, it may be possible to substitute another material depending on which of those properties you need. There are alternative decorative topcoats for nickel plating which have found some use including trivalent chrome plating, and other proprietaries based on cobalt and other metals. To my knowledge none is yet a 100% satisfactory replacement, such that automobile and motorcycle manufacturers still use hexavalent chrome plating.

The crux of the matter is two things: first, what the part is, and what it needs in terms of wear resistance, corrosion resistance, aesthetic requirements, etc; and second, why you want to replace the chrome -- i.e., what perceived downside are you trying to ameliorate, so we can help you evaluate whether the substitution will do that or make things worse.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. The details are as follows.

1.Part - MS tube - Used in Bike Handle Bars
2.Rqmt - Corrosion, Wear resistance & Aesthetic look.

We look for the alternatives to overcome Cr (VI) pollution issues & high Ni cost. Also in India Cr(III) chemicals are not easily available.

I have another query to get clarified: Can any other metal give same aesthetic look & other properties as Ni in Nickel - Cr plating?

- Chennai, TN, India


A. You can substitute a trivalent chromium plating process (although you say this is difficult to obtain in your area); some say the overall cost will be reduced, others say it won't. You can substitute a proprietary chrome replacement plating based on cobalt or tin-cobalt; the major vendors of plating processes offer trivalent chrome processes and chrome substitutes. These substitutes, whether trivalent chrome or otherwise, are not generic formulations, but higher technology processes that you buy from suppliers.

There is no substitute for nickel plating, although the suppliers do offer alloys like nickel-iron that can reduce the cost; and 'white bronze' has been used in place og nickel on jewelry but not yet (to my limited knowledge) on motorcycle parts.

A completely different approach, which doesn't really match the quality of nickel-chrome plating, but may be good enough for the bicycles/motorcycles in question, is bright acid zinc plating followed by clear coating. Try to align yourself with a reputable supplier and you should be able to get help with all of these alternatives. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Nothing will work as well as chrome. Electroless nickel will come close, but it fingerprints extremely easily and does not have quite the same blue tint as chrome, although it can be quite bright. EN will probably cost more.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

January 2, 2008

A. Please consider an outstanding and a very new process called trialloy. It is a ternary alloy of nickel-cobalt-boron. Some suppliers have just offered the alloy as decorative for its similar features comparing to Cr III (aspect, hardness, corrosion resistance).

- Warsaw, Poland

May 1, 2008

A. Have you considered a PVD alternative. Depending on the application it is viable. The technology is environmentally friendly and is showing excellent durability. Currently parts such as wheels, manifolds tubes such as your handle bars are being coated.

Brian Boley
- Mentor, Ohio, US

Óxido de cobalto-cromo (Cr2CoO4)

March 22, 2018 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi, I have a question:
Solution chromithing content Chromiun 3 and cobalt in yor composition, before or after treatment for hydrogen remove can presentation in your layer Óxido de cobalto-cromo (Cr2CoO4)?

Rogerio Rosenzweig
- Sao Paulo, Brazil

March 2018

? Hi Rogerio. Sorry, but I do not understand your question, perhaps due to language difficulties ...

You seem to be saying that you must do baking for hydrogen relief, and it concerns you that this baking might oxidize the Cr2CoO4? Where is the hydrogen coming from? I am not familiar with a Cr2CoO4 plating solution, but am I understanding that you are plating something with such a solution? More words please!


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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