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Chrome Plating: Benefits, Applications & Processes

Chrome plating is a process of covering or plating an object with a layer of chromium for aesthetic and/or protective purposes.

As chromium is a naturally occurring metallic element, chrome plating an object can increase its wear resistance/strength and improve corrosion resistance; it can also alter the object’s appearance, giving it a metallic and often highly polished look.

Types of chrome plating

There are two main types – Hard Chrome Plating and Decorative Chrome Plating.

If you’re primarily looking to extend the life of an object, you’d choose Hard (or Engineered) Chrome Plating. Decorative Chrome Plating adds a thin layer of chrome for aesthetic purposes.


Chrome Plating, whether Hard or Decorative, is applied using an electroplating technique.

Electroplating is a process that uses an electrical charge to drive dissolved chromium from a solution onto an object that is submerged into that solution.

Before electroplating can occur, however, you must first clean and degrease the workpiece to ensure a uniform coating. Next, you’d completely submerge the workpiece into a bath containing dissolved chromium anhydride, before applying an electrical charge.

With Hard Chrome Plating, you need to electroplate the workpiece long enough for a relatively thick chrome layer to build up. This thickness will depend on the product specifications and can range between 0.02mm to 0.13mm.

Being for aesthetic purposes, Decorative Chrome Plating usually requires an additional step to get the best possible final finish; you would first electroplate a thin layer of nickel, copper or sometimes both, to give that smooth, shiny surface finish.

After this, you would electroplate a thin layer of chromium over the top to prevent scratching or tarnishing. The thickness of the final chrome layer for Decorative Chrome Plating is substantially thinner than Decorative Chrome Plating, ranging from 0.005mm to 0.015mm.

Once coated in chromium, you can buff or polish the workpiece to the desired finish level.


Owing to its attractive mirror-like finish, the automotive industry relies on Decorative Chrome Plating during part production. It provides items such as rims, bumpers and exhausts – the visible, decorative sections of cars and motorbikes – with a highly polished metallic finish and corrosion resistance.

Other common applications of this kind can include kitchen utensils, taps and tools.

The automotive industry also makes use of Hard Chrome Plating but for different purposes. The thicker coating provides items such as shock absorbers and engine cylinders for added wear resistance and hardness.

Other applications of this kind of coating include gears, piston heads and some aerospace applications.

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