What conjures up in your mind when I say the term “chrome”? Chrome, in the eyes of the general public, is a highly desirable metal. Conjures up mental pictures of ever-new, mirror-polished metal. Chrome is often seen as a miracle material by manufacturers since it increases the strength and longevity of their products. Electroplating adds a thin layer of chrome to most chrome items, not the entire product. The addition of this layer can greatly improve the look and functionality of a product.
The widespread adoption of chrome plating is not surprising. In this article, we will trace the history of chrome plating from its inception to the present day.
Beginnings of Chrome Plating
The discovery of electroplating in the early 19th century is necessary to pinpoint the exact moment that chrome plating was first used. Submerging metallic objects into a solution of dissolved gold and applying a charge with a Voltaic pile led the gold to cover the surface of the objects, as discovered by an Italian chemist named Luigi Brugnatelli. A voltaic pile was the first battery that could reliably power an electrical circuit without recharging.
In 1805, Brugnatelli published his findings in a Belgian scientific publication.
Moreover, his work was not widely accepted at the time. Napoleon Bonaparte worried that the procedure could be used by the working class to obtain luxury items normally reserved for the upper classes. Many years passed before electroplating was rediscover and put to widespread use again. A wide variety of items, including jewelry, antiquities, and more, could be made to look expensive without actually costing that much. Nickel plating and other types of metal plating joined gold plating as fashionable alternatives.
When wheels and tire packages Although the concept of electroplating was invented in the early 19th century, chromium plating did not begin until the early 20th century. George J. Sargent, an early innovator in the field of chromium plating, received his Ph.D. in 1912 for his research on chromium deposition. After ten years of research, Colin Fink and Charles Eldridge created a viable chromium plating technique.
The Chemical Treatment Company in New York and the Chromium Products Corporation in New Jersey both advertised their chromium plating services by the mid-1920s. A swift merger resulted in the formation of the Chromium Corporation of America. United Chromium, Incorporated was created in 1927 when the Chromium Corporation of America joined with the General Chromium Corporation in response to patent interferences.
These pioneering businesses obviously bet big on chromium plating, and they were correct to do so. The use of chromium plating quickly gained in popularity. Customers knew that chromed products would last longer and be less likely to rust or corrode because of their bright, sophisticated appearance.
The Evolving State of Chrome Plating
It’s easy to see why chromium plating, or “chrome,” became so popular among businesses and consumers. Chrome plating could be applied to almost any surface to make it more attractive and long-lasting. Autos, bicycles, and motorcycles all featured shiny chrome accents when they first hit the market.
Metals like chromium were somewhat rationed during World War II, but their use picked back up once the conflict ended. In fact, in the years following World War II, the French government established the Center of Information on Hard Chromium, which published the first complete textbook on the subject in 1952.
Chrome was a common design component of numerous things in the 1950s. Try to envision a diner from the 1950s. Chrome was frequently used for bar stools, table and counter trim, and architectural details on the outside of the structure. From the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, chrome has been widely used as a decorative accent on a wide variety of products. Including automobiles, doorknobs, and sink faucets. Although chrome isn’t as ubiquitous. As it was in the ’50s, its streamlined aesthetic is unlikely to ever go out of style.
Whenever chrome is applied for no other reason than to improve visual appeal. The process is known as ornamental chrome plating. The process of hard chrome plating, also known as engineering or functional chrome plating. Differs from the process of decorative chrome plating. When chrome is used for aesthetic purposes, it goes on in a much thinner layer than when it is meant primarily for practical purposes. Hard chrome plating is commonly applied to components and tools that need to hold up to a lot of wear, like hydraulic cylinders, for example.
Since its inception in the 1920s
The practice of chrome plating has undergone numerous changes. Originally, hard chromium plating was done by methodically estimating. The surface area of an object to be plated and giving the right quantity of current to obtain the requisite current density at a known speed. The method was questioned by Marvin J. Udy, who claimed that the same voltage could be used for all chromium plating.
Along with Phil Hale, Udy set out to confirm his concept by attempting to plate multiple sections all at the same time with the same current to all of them. He found that “if you have a specific known electrode spacing and apply a constant voltage, the current density will be constant. Reversible Rack 2 Bus Bar System was coined by a successor named Clarence H. Peger, who also contributed to the system’s widespread adoption.
H. Webersinn, about the same time, was trying out the trivalent procedure of chrome plating. Which he hoped would be superior to standard hexavalent baths. The approach was, in reality, easier and more cost-effective. However, it resulted in a darker, less attractive surface appearance. Trivalent chromium more nearly resembled stainless steel. Another problem was that the chromium was porous and so not very durable, especially in the larger layers.
The “recipe” for plating with trivalent chromium has been tweaked and improved throughout the years. To get the desired shade, most modern businesses rely on chemicals. It is now common practice to employ either trivalent or hexavalent solutions for chrome plating, depending on the specifics of the application. Most demanding tasks still favor the use of hexavalent solutions.