What is the difference between chrome plating, nickel plating and zinc plating?

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What is the difference between chrome plating, nickel plating and zinc plating?

What is Electroplating?

What is Electroplating?

Electroplating is the process of using the principle of electrolysis to coat a thin layer of other metals or alloys on the surface of certain metals. Such as rust), improve wear resistance, electrical conductivity, reflectivity, corrosion resistance (copper sulfate, etc.) and enhance aesthetics and other functions

Electroplating is further divided into specific processes such as copper plating, gold plating, silver plating, chrome plating, nickel plating and zinc plating. In the manufacturing field, zinc plating, nickel plating and chrome plating are the most widely used. So what is the difference between chrome plating, nickel plating and zinc plating?

01-zinc plating

Definition: Galvanizing refers to a surface treatment technology that coats a layer of zinc on the surface of metals, alloys or other materials for aesthetics and rust prevention.

Features: low cost, general anti-corrosion, silver-white color.

Applications: Screws, circuit breakers, industrial supplies, etc.

02-Nickel plating

Definition: A method of plating a layer of nickel on metal or some non-metals by electrolysis or chemical methods, called nickel plating.

Features: beautiful, can be decorated, high price, slightly complicated process, the color is silver white and yellow.

Applications: energy-saving lamp caps, coins, hardware, etc.

03-chrome plating

Definition: Chromium is a kind of bright white metal with a slight bluish color. It is a method of plating a layer of chromium on a metal or some non-metal by electrolytic or chemical methods, which is called chrome plating. 

Features: There are two kinds of chrome plating, the first one is for decoration, the appearance is bright, the wear resistance is better, the rust resistance is not as good as galvanized, and it is worse than oxidation; the second is to increase the hardness and wear resistance of metal parts, etc. , which is the functionality of the part. 

Application: Bright decorative parts, tools, faucets, etc. on home appliances, electronics and other products.

The most basic difference between the three types of electroplating

1: “Chromium plating is mainly to improve surface hardness, beautiful appearance and rust prevention. Chromium plating has good chemical stability and does not work in alkali, sulfide, nitric acid and most organic acids, but it is soluble in hydrohalic acid ( Such as hydrochloric acid) and hot sulfuric acid. Because chromium does not change color, it can maintain its reflection ability for a long time and is better than silver and nickel. The process is generally electroplating.

2: Nickel plating is mainly wear-resistant, anti-corrosion, anti-rust, generally thin, and the process is divided into two categories: electroplating and chemical.

3: Galvanized is mainly beautiful and rust-proof. Zinc is an active metal that can react with acids, so it has poor corrosion resistance and is the cheapest of the three.

The difference in cost is that chrome plating is the most expensive, nickel is second, and zinc is the cheapest. Among them, rack plating, barrel plating, etc. are also distinguished. Rack plating is expensive, and barrel plating is cheaper.

If the purpose is to prevent rust, zinc or cadmium can be used; if the focus is to prevent wear, nickel or chrome is the best choice.

Author: Mose Li

Author: Mose Li

Director of Project Engineering at 3Q Machining

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