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Alternative to iridescent trivalent plating for brake parts

Q. We are doing trivalent plating (iridescent) for our brake parts (CAST IRON/SHEETMETAL/CARBON STEEL MACHINED). We seek alternative to trivalent plating (even coating) in a cost effective manner, but quality should be as equivalent to trivalent plating.

Thiruvengadam Dhanasekaran
Business development, VA/VE - Chennai, TamilNadu, India
July 26, 2012

A. Hi cousin Thiruvengadam,

My mentor, Joe Mazia, used to cheerfully suggest dipping in chocolate when people requested an alternative coating without explaining their reason for seeking it -- because chocolate offers moderate corrosion resistance (in cool dry environment), is completely non-toxic, easily strippable, easily repairable, very inexpensive and everyone is familiar with it. So, by focusing on exactly why chocolate isn't a good answer, we start to qualify what we actually need :-)

Zinc plating followed by chromate conversion coating (trivalent, these days) is the most widely used and most economical metallic coating there is; and as for quality, it offers both sacrificial protection and acceptable appearance whereas many other coatings don't. So it is very difficult to answer your question until you tell us what it is about zinc plating with trivalent chromate conversion coating that you find undesirable. Thanks!


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 26, 2012

A. Mr. Ted Mooney,
Thank you for your immediate reply with comments.
The cost of trivalent plating is quite a bit expensive, and also it is a polluted industry. Hence, we need a process to be free from pollution and should be a cost effective one. Thanks and I hope I clarified your points.

Thiruvengadam Dhanasekaran
- Chennai, TamilNadu, India
July 28, 2012

A. Hi, again. Thiruvengadam.

But zinc plating is expensive compared to what other plating? It is the least expensive plating that there is, around the world. But it is certainly possible that you are overpaying. How much is plating costing you (that's a rhetorical question) and how have you arrived at the conclusion that it is expensive?

And pollution-free compared to what? Zinc and chrome are both essential nutrients, unlike many other metals like aluminum that have no place in our bodies. But it is certainly possible for a plating shop to run a sloppy, polluting, operation or a relatively clean one.

There is no process that is free from pollution. Although some may strike us as better than others, it is a real chore to figure out whether land, air, or water pollution is worse, and whether heavy metals or strange new organic chemicals are better. I am not trying to give you a hard time, cousin. Just reinforcing that to clarify rather vague ideas like reduced pollution can prove very difficult and require a lot of patience.

Best of luck.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 30, 2012

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