Preparing Your Metal For Chrome Plating That Will Last

Posted on: 19 March 2020

Chrome plating is often used to make a metal product look good, but it is also extremely durable. If you are looking for a way to protect and limit wear on metal, chrome may be your best option, and when done right, chrome can outlast many other materials.

Metal Preparation

The preparation of the metal you are applying the chrome to is critical. To get a high-quality chrome finish, the base metal must be smooth and clean so the finish adheres to the material, is smooth, and will not crack or peel.

Cleaning the metal to remove oils and grease from the surface with a cleaner that will not leave a residue on the metal is essential. Once the surface is clean, the metal is ground and polished to near perfection. 

While grinding may start with a course wheel to remove imperfections in the metal, you will need to work your way down to a very fine wheel and then potentially buff the surface with a buffing compound and wheel until you have a smooth finish. Clean the part again to remove buffing compound and metal shavings from the part when you are happy with the finish. 

Any material, even tiny metal shavings that are left on the part, will end up under the plating and will look like a large imperfection on the surface. Clean the piece several times if you need to and make sure that there is nothing on it before it goes to the plating process. 

Nickel or Copper Plating

Many times before applying chrome to the base metal, nickel or copper plating goes on to the material as a base plating. Nickel is extremely corrosion-resistant and can help protect the metal if the chrome has a small crack or micro fissure in it after application. Copper can help protect the metal as well, and it gives the chrome a unique color as some of the copper's color shows through the chrome. 

Both metals are optional, but the durability and longevity of the chrome are significantly increased for an application that wears or stresses the chrome. In an industrial environment, the chrome may be less about how the part looks, and more about the performance of the equipment or machine that the chrome-plated part goes into.

Chrome Plating

Once the preparation is complete, the part gets the chrome plate applied to the surface. If you are concerned about the durability of the chrome, have several layers applied to increase the thickness of the coating. But remember, the more plating that is used, the more the dimensions of the part can change. Too much chrome can be just as bad as not enough, so defer to the chrome plater to determine how much chrome you need.

For more information, contact a metal finishing industry in your area. 


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