Guide to Hard Chrome Plating and Electroless Nickel Plating Finishing
At Creatingway, we often use plating as a finishing process on a variety of metal parts. Plating essentially helps in the protection of the components from corrosion, damage and wear. It may also function to enhance the performance of that component and can even increase or decrease the conductivity of that part. Choosing the type of plating finish that is appropriate for a component may be a complex process, but here at Creatingway, we are knowledgeable enough to match the prevailing variables to the components.
We usually consider the different types of environments that the components are likely to encounter as well as their intended use. This assists us in determining which attributes are essential for the finished part. The two most common plating finishes at our disposal include hard chrome plating and electroless plating. Here is a guide that may help you better understand the uses and a comparison of the two-plating process.
Common Uses of Hard Chrome Plating
Hard chrome plating essentially refers to the use of industrial chrome in the finishing of parts to make them more functional. We also use it for decorative purposes as it offers a lot of visual and aesthetic appeal, especially on automobile and motorcycle parts. Despite being more decorative in nature, we commonly use it for engineering applications. Hard chrome happens to extend the life of the machine tools it plates. Additionally, hard chrome offers an anti-stick and release properties that allow us to use it on gears and plastic molds. These features also make it ideal for use on pistons and shock absorbers commonly found on machines and vehicles
Common Uses of Electroless Nickel Plating
In electroless nickel plating, we do not use electric current in the application of the finish like in hard chrome plating. The process utilizes an autocatalytic chemical reaction to deposit a uniform layer over the component. We normally use phosphorus in this process, and it is a major determinant of the resulting characteristics. For instance, high phosphorus plating conveys the best corrosion protection properties, but it is the least hard. On the other hand, low phosphorus plating is the hardest coating, but it conveys the least corrosive properties. We commonly use electroless plating on components that are needed for protection from harsh conditions like fuel injectors, pipe fittings, and cylinder pumps. We also plate hard drives and circuit boards to protect the processors for corrosion over time.
Similarities Between Hard Chrome Plating and Electroless Plating
Both work well on various substrate materials as the plating process deposits evenly on all surfaces of the component. This makes them ideal for plating irregularly shaped surfaces and those that may have indentations and holes. They are also able to cover a variety of metals, namely brass, copper, stainless steel, and even some plastics. They both offer extreme durability and happen to last a considerably long time despite constant mechanical contact. Additionally, they have excellent corrosion resistant features and sliding properties that significantly reduce the friction between parts.
Differences Between Electroless Nickel and Hard Chrome Plating
By availing the differences between the two plating processes, you may be able to choose which one suits your project. There are a few criteria that you should consider.
- Wear- How long will the part last over time if it experiences the same conditions such as length of use and the times it comes into contact with other machinery.
- Corrosion- How well does the plating convey protection against corrosion over time
- Environment- The environmental conditions that the component is likely to encounter such as heat, moisture and cold
- Motion- Is the component meant to be a moving one.
Hard Chrome Plating
It offers a better degree of hardness than electroless plating and, therefore, its parts wear the least. Hard chrome also retains oil excellently and has a considerably lower coefficient of friction.
In terms of protection against corrosion, electroless plating is exemplary. Since it offers a smooth and even finishes, this form of plating does not leave any room for moisture to penetrate it. Hard chrome plating often requires polishing in certain areas to provide a more even covering. This thus makes electroless nickel plating the ideal finish for parts with indentations, holes, and irregularities.
In summary, as with most pros and cons comparisons, it really does mainly rely on the end-use application and specific purpose of the component. Electroless nickel plating may be generally more acceptable as the better all-inclusive finish even in situations where hard chrome plating offers better hardness and a lower friction coefficient. Be sure to make contact with us a Creatingway to get further insight into these two specific finishing processes and you are certain to get the help you need to complete your next project.
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