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Help with Starting a Chrome Plating Business

My husband and I are wanting to start a chrome plating business. We are looking for a place to start. What do you suggest? Also what permits are needed for this business and where should we buy our equipment and supplies? Thank You in advance for all your help.

Clay & Ashley S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Morristown, Tennessee

There is an Understanding Chrome Plating available in our FAQs, which you will hopefully find helpful.

If you ever separate from your husband, make sure your divorce lawyer is clever enough to stick your husband with the business, Ashley :-)

Seriously, a chrome plating business is a real commitment that you don't want to enter into lightly. My suggestion is that you visit a few plating shops, then look over some used plating equipment that is for sale and investigate chrome plating businesses that are for sale, to acquire a real-world feel for it. Then you can sign up for some technical journals, buy a few books, attend a training course in plating, join the AESF, and get serious about whether this is for you or not.

The most important thing to understand is that chrome plating involves buying regulated toxic chemicals that you become responsible for forever, regardless of how much you pay to get rid of them--so buying chemicals must be the very last step in your business plan, not an early step. It would be so much better if one of you could work for a plating shop for at least a few months first. Good luck.

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

As things sit right now, I would recommend buying an existing business rather than starting a new one. You will be regulated as a new source rather that an existing source if you build instead of buy. Your regulatory limits will be much lower; this will put you at a competitive disadvantage. Of course, you could build in Mexico....

James Totter
James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida

Bad chemicals involved in chrome plating are a thing of the past. There are electroplating systems for sale by Gold Touch [a supporting advertiser]; these systems use environmentally friendly plating solutions. They offer gold or chrome plating systems from $2,000 for gold plating to around $5,000 for the latest chrome plating systems. First do some research find out how many shops of this type or in business near you, then find out what they charge; you will base your prices on this info.

Scott Bowlan
- Newport, New Hampshire

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It is certainly well to use the most environmentally benign chemicals you can, Scott. But plating chemicals are, by federal law, "categorically regulated". That means that regardless of what is in them, even if chemically indistinguishable from tap water, they are regulated hazardous wastes anyway, and you require chemical analysis of the waste water, collection and disposal of any spent chemicals, permits to discharge any waste water, and continuous environmental scrutiny.

Further, while chrome-look paint, or cobalt-based plating chemistry is an okay idea, real chrome plating, which is done in a bath of hexavalent chromium (the chemical that made Erin Brockovich a household name) is the only finish accepted by motorcycle and automobile manufacturers throughout the world -- so to say it is a thing of the past is completely inaccurate. It's one thing to apply a finish that's good enough for yourself, as a hobby; it's another thing entirely to sell a finish to someone else and guarantee it.

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

Cost to relocate plating shop

We have a plating refining shop for 63 years. My husband's parents want to sell the building and he would have to move the shop. We are trying to find out how expensive it would be to relocate and be up to code with the EPA. He use cyanide with gold, silver and copper.


Lisa Deorio
plating - West Pittston, Pennsylvania, USA

There are two issues, the decommissioning/sale of the old building and the commissioning of the new. The first step is probably what they call a "phase 1 environmental audit" of the existing shop. One result of this might be your husband's parents deciding that they don't want to sell the building after all.

Beyond that, it is difficult for anyone to hazard a guess what is involved without some real detail about what plating you are doing, and you probably would need to retain a consultant.

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

I am currently working in a plating workshop in Invercargill, New Zealand. It is a very expensive, time consuming job, the chemicals are expensive and all the equipment, rectifiers, electrodes, nickel baskets, etc. are also very expensive and everything has to be set up according to safety law. there are a lot of tickets/certificates you need to attain pre-running a plating shop. I agree with the other comments about going around other plating shops and getting a feel for it and just have a look first. Would probably be easier to buy an existing plating shop than starting one from scratch.

Christopher Gillett
- Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand

hello sir,

I would like to know were to find this things in Philippines specially the source of materials here. maybe you could recommend any outlet, shop hardware or chemical company to buy some. I'm interested to start this business on other part we have a little car repair shop and I would like to add this ..hoping for your kind response. Thanks

Geoffrey Bulaon
business - General Santos City, Philippines
September 24, 2010

You can go to [Ed. note: name of hobby plating site deleted at their request]; they sell small chrome kits for automotive parts and such. Their chemicals are environmentally safe. The only chemical not safe would be tank chrome since there is a byproduct. They use brush chrome which is the same but has no byproduct.

Bobby Norwood
- Metropolis, Illinois, USA
September 11, 2011

Hi, Bobby.

We're kind of going in circles here. But to repeat: while it is always best to use chemicals that you feel are "environmentally safe", electroplating is a "categorically regulated" business, where every drop of chemical and rinsewater from any plating shop is regulated by law regardless of how "environmentally safe" you or a vendor may feel it is. To quote the chairperson of the 9-11 commission and former NJ governor: "'Toxic' is a matter of statute, NOT opinion". Ashley and her husband need to give a lot of thought to going into the chrome plating business.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
September 12, 2011

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