Aloha, fun & authoritative answers -- no cost, no registration, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub  Where the
world gathers for metal finishing
Q&As since 1989


Chrome Plating Alternative and Substitutes

Interested in a coating system looking like chrome plated for metal furniture.

- Sweden

Hi, Lennart. There has been some use of acid zinc plating, followed by a clear lacquer, for such things as bicycle rims. But really, nothing is going to look like nickel-chrome plating except nickel plating either with real chrome or a chrome substitute topcoat.

So you can perhaps use trivalent chromium, or a cobalt-based substitute for chromium, but all the preliminary steps, including nickel plating, remain. Good luck.

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

Cobalt nickel alloy gives a good substitute for chromium plating.

sara michaeli
sara michaeli signature
Sara Michaeli
Tel-Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Maybe, Sara. I've heard some platers rave! But I also saw this finish on large parts at SUR/FIN this week. And on large parts it seemed to look pretty "yellow" and nickel-like to the three people in my group.

We can probably get used to it, and maybe we ought to for ecological reasons, but "it ain't chrome".

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

You could try an acid tin with brightener or a zinc cyanide, copper cyanide with tin chloride, caustic stock.

Good luck,

David Guleserian
- Rhode Island

A substitute that works real well for color is the Aurolyte process, a Tin/Cobalt process.

Richard Zuendt
- Garfield, New Jersey

<-- note the age of this entry; there has been some progress since!

Nothing that I've seen, and I just came back from Sur-Fin where these kind of alternatives were displayed, Richard, really looked like chrome to me. If it did, I think the suppliers would be giving us spectrographic analyses.

Personally, I think the thing to concentrate on is performance -- and just let us all get used to whatever color performance happens to come in.

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

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

Zartan - a substitute for chrome plating?


Zartan G.I. Joe Figure

affil links)

Q. I am looking for information about a barrel plating process I remember reading about some years back (15 years ago?) It must not have turned out to be very popular if it is not currently available. Perhaps I'm wrong but it seems the product name was "Zartan". It was very similar in appearance to chrome plating but quite easily done in a barrel. I do remember fasteners being available in this finish and that it was next to impossible to strip the coating using normal strips for nickel or chrome. I don't know if the process is still available but would appreciate any help or information that anyone could pass on.

George Paton

I'm interested by the Zartan process.
I would like to try it to do some tests.
Do you know where I could find some information about it?

Thank you for your help.

Best regards,

- Rennes, FRANCE

A. We have been using Nickel Zartan for years. It is a cost effective alternative to Chrome, it looks good and holds up well. It works well on small parts as it is a barrel process. Parts are first coated with nickel, then the Zartan. The nickel is the rust preventative, like chrome the Zartan is for looks.

Donovan K. Norton
- La Verne, California
November 17, 2008

A. Hi, Donovan. Thanks for the real-life experiences with Zartan. Very helpful! However, it is not fully accurate that chrome plating is for looks. It symbiotically contributes to the corrosion resistance of the finish -- for example, nickel-chrome plating with microcracked or microporous chrome have repeatedly been found to be substantially superior in corrosion resistance to non-micro chrome. (Readers may be interested in our Introduction to Chrome Plating).

This is not to imply that Zartan doesn't contribute as much to corrosion resistance -- I don't know. Thanks again.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
June 2, 2009

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

Zartan as chromium substitute


Hi! Everybody, we are locking for a chromium substitute, I think is named SARTAN or something like that, I know that I wouldn't get the same as the chrome, I only need to match the chrome color and 300 hours at salt spray, somebody knows about something that I can use?

Thanks a lot!

SR.Guadalupe Gonzalez.
- Tecate Baja California, Mexico

Hi, The only metal that resembles the color of chromium plating is aluminum but it normally has to be vacuum metallized and is very thin, so it may not withstand 300 hrs. salt spray. For durability and a shiny look, the closest inexpensive metal would be high phosphorous electroless nickel but it will have a yellowish/brownish deep color. Good luck

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

Zartan was a cobalt-tin topcoat, but I believe it is not made anymore. The major suppliers do have chromium substitutes based on cobalt alloys, and there is also tri-chrome, of course.

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

The alternate is tin cobalt alloy deposit ( sulphobrite process ) which will give you a topcoat same in colour as chrome.

Anil Basrani
- Mumbai, India

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - 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?

ARAVINDHAN [returning]
- 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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - 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

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
January 2, 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
May 1, 2008

Óxido de cobalto-cromo (Cr2CoO4)

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 22, 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 - Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 2018

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
Consult'g, Train'g
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"