Hard Chrome Plating

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Hard Chrome Plating

What is Hard Chrome Plating?

Hard chrome plating is an electroplating process in which a layer of chromium is applied to a surface to improve corrosion and wear resistance, reduce friction, and extend the life of parts used in extreme working environments. A wide range of materials, component sizes and complexity can be plated making hard chrome a popular choice for many industrial and commercial applications.

Hydraulic cylinder rods, bearing fits and seal areas frequently get damaged and worn from heavy use. When no longer functional, a part can be hard chrome plated and polished or ground back to OEM Spec. This process can be repeated multiple times reducing equipment downtime and substantial replacement costs.

Improved corrosion and wear resistance. Reduced friction. Longer part life.

Improved corrosion and wear resistance. Reduced friction.

Longer part life.

A Proven Process

Our hard chrome plating process involves submerging a work piece in an electro-chemical bath. An electric current draws chromium metal from the chromic acid solution and applies it to the substrate. The result is a completely adhered layer of chromium that will extend the life of parts and components.

Before chroming a workpiece, it is prepared for ideal chrome adherence. The work piece is cleaned thoroughly, inspected, existing chrome is removed and any damage repaired. The piece is then pre-polished to a consistent size then masked for full control of the chromed area. After plating, the workpiece is polished to a precise dimensional tolerance and desired surface finish.

Measuring Micrometer Hydraulic Cylinder Ram Hard Chrome Plating Industrial Hard Chrome Edmonton Repair Manufacture Alberta Canada

Hard Chrome Plating and Polishing

Up to 46' in length or 24" in diameter

Suitable Materials for Hard Chrome Plating

Any ferrous and most non-ferrous metals can be hard chrome plated, except for magnesium and titanium which typically require an underlay of zinc, copper or nickel. Aluminum can be hard chrome plated, although some alloys require an undercoat of copper or nickel. 

Common materials we plate are: Steel, cast iron, stainless steel, bronze, brass and copper.

Hard Chrome Plating Applications

Hard chrome can be applied in thickness of 0.0005” – 0.025” (0.012mm – 0.635mm)

Hard chrome is classified as a “cold” process where the operating temperature of 58 – 60 degrees Celsius ensures no damage to the physical or mechanical properties of the base material.

Hard chrome can be applied in thickness of 0.0005” – 0.025” (0.012mm – 0.635mm)

 

Hard chrome is classified as a “cold” process where the operating temperature of 58 – 60 degrees Celsius ensures no damage to the physical or mechanical properties of the base material.

Benefits of Hard Chrome

The success of hard chrome plating can be attributed to the many benefits and unique characteristics of the process.  The increased hardness alone would not be sufficient to secure widespread use, as a number of hard materials and hardening processes are available. It is the combination of the improved qualities below that give hard chrome plating such remarkable results.

Electro-deposited chrome is extremely hard, typically 66-70 HRC. Through hard chrome plating, the surface hardness of your component is increased without modifying its properties.

Hard chrome has a very low coefficient of friction when compared to steel. This allows a component to operate at a lower temperature during operation, extending the life of your equipment.

The high hardness and low frictional properties of hard chrome, provide excellent resistance to abrasion and mechanical contact.

Hard chrome has a very high resistance to atmospheric oxidation and a good resistance to most oxidizing and reducing agents (with the exception to Chlorides and other Halides).

Since hard chrome deposits can be removed with chemical strippers, without destructive effect to base material, the part can be stripped and re-plated repeatedly when worn.

Micro-crack characteristics of hard chrome allows for oil retention which improves lubricity of plated parts.

Benefits of Hard Chrome Plating

The success of hard chrome plating can be attributed to the many benefits and unique characteristics of the process.  The increased hardness alone would not be sufficient to secure widespread use, as a number of hard materials and hardening processes are available. It is the combination of the improved qualities below that give hard chrome plating such remarkable results.
Increased Hardness 

Electro-deposited chrome is extremely hard, typically 66-70 HRC. Through hard chrome plating, the surface hardness of your component is increased without modifying its properties.

Low Friction

Hard chrome has a very low coefficient of friction when compared to steel. This allows a component to operate at a lower temperature during operation, extending the life of your equipment.

Wear Resistance 

The high hardness and low frictional properties of hard chrome, provide excellent resistance to abrasion and mechanical contact.

Corrosion Resistance

Hard chrome has a very high resistance to atmospheric oxidation and a good resistance to most oxidizing and reducing agents (with the exception to Chlorides and other Halides).

Sacrificial Wear Layer 

Since hard chrome deposits can be removed with chemical strippers, without destructive effect to base material, the part can be stripped and re-plated repeatedly when worn.

Lubricant Retention 

Microcrack characteristics of hard chrome allows for oil retention which improves lubricity of plated parts.

Hard Chrome Plating FAQs

Hard chrome plating is great for corrosion and wear resistance and extends the life of parts, but can come with problems as well. If something goes awry in the plating process, it can cause defects such as:

  • Milky/ Dull Deposits: Dull chrome appearance from an unbalanced current density and bath temperature. 
  • Burnt Deposits: A buildup of chrome deposits form near the high current density areas from being deposited too quickly. 
  • Poor or Partial Coverage: Poor electrical connectivity or chemistry creates missed spots on a plate piece. 
  • Poor Adhesion: Chrome deposits peel, blister, or lift away when the bond between chrome and the base metal is too weak. 
  • Roughness: Another defect from poor base metal as chroming follows the metal’s contour. 
  • Pitting: Pitting is when small pinholes appear on the surface due to either the base metal or contamination of a foreign object. 
  • Excessive Micro-cracking: Increases surface roughness beyond the threshold. 
  • Mud Cracking: Cracking on the chrome’s surface ruins the finish, leading to quicker corrosion. 

Chrome and hard chrome both follow a similar process, however traditional chrome is thinner and has weaker durability than hard chrome. Hard chrome offers better corrosion and wear resistance, increased hardness, lubricant retention, and low friction compared to traditional chrome.

Chrome plating achieves its hardness by submerging a plate in an electrochemical bath. The electric current from the bath draws chromium metal from the solution and applies it to the substrate.

Any ferrous and most non-ferrous metals can be chrome plated. The most common materials are steel, cast iron, stainless steel, bronze, brass, and copper. Metals like magnesium and titanium require an underlay of zinc, copper, or nickel. Aluminum typically requires a copper or nickel undercoat.

No, as the metal has been ionically dissolved in the electrochemical bath.

Hard chroming can extend the longevity of the wear piece by decades as the piece can be hard chrome plated multiple times.

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Since 1990, RHK has been servicing hydraulic cylinders and components for a wide range of industries. Our Sales and Engineering team has extensive experience and is standing by to develop a custom solution for your application.