How Long Does It Take To Chrome Plate?

Whether you are looking to chrome plate a metal part or a motorcycle wheel, there are a number of factors that will affect how long it takes. Plating is a labor intensive process that can require days for even simple parts. While you may be tempted to attempt a do-it-yourself project, it is best left to professionals. The chemicals used in the chroming process are toxic and must be handled correctly to avoid injury or pollution. If you try to use these materials at home, you could run into trouble with your local environmental agency as the waste from this process is highly regulated.

The first factor that limits how long it takes to chrome plate is the size of the item that needs to be plated. The item must fit inside the chroming vat and be able to be immersed in the solution for several hours. Additionally, if the piece is large or heavy, it may require multiple dips to ensure a uniform coating.

Another factor is how much chrome is required. The amount of chrome on the item must be controlled to prevent blistering, burned deposits and cleavage points. Blistering is caused when nitrogen and hydrogen expand inside the pores of the plating. This can cause the material to split along structural planes, reducing toughness. This can be prevented by thoroughly cleaning the surface before plating. Burned deposits are formed when chromium plates quickly, often around edges or ends of the part. These areas will turn black and are a sign of bad workmanship.

Lastly, the amount of time it takes to plate is affected by how well the item is prepared. This includes buffing, polishing and cleaning the item. It also involves dipping the item in acid, adding zinc and copper plating and, for show chrome items, two to three layers of nickel. These steps need to be repeated to achieve a high-quality finish. Salespeople often talk about triple-chrome plating, but this is just marketing terminology and means nothing more than a thin layer of chrome on top of nickel and copper.

There is an alternative to chemical solutions to strip chrome, but it should only be attempted by professionals familiar with electricity and chemicals. This is called reverse electroplating and it uses a live current, sulphuric acid and chromic acid. These are the same chemicals that made Erin Brockovich famous and they must be disposed of correctly to prevent poisoning the environment. This is why shops that use these substances have exhaust scrubbing systems, fume suppressants and workers undergo frequent blood tests for absorbed chromium. This is why it is so dangerous to attempt chrome plating at home – even dropping a beaker of chromic acid on the garage floor would likely get you arrested.