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Chrome plating facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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Decorative chrome plating on a motorcycle

Chrome plating (less commonly chromium plating), often referred to simply as chrome, is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal or plastic object. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease cleaning procedures, or increase surface hardness. Sometimes a less expensive imitator of chrome may be used for aesthetic purposes.


Chrome plating a component typically includes these stages:

  • Degreasing to remove heavy soiling
  • Manual cleaning to remove all residual traces of dirt and surface impurities
  • Various pretreatments depending on the substrate
  • Placement into the chrome plating vat, where it is allowed to warm to solution temperature
  • Application of plating current for the required time to attain the desired thickness

Various linishing and buffing processes are used in preparing components for decorative chrome plating. The overall appearance of decorative chrome plating is only as good as the preparation of the component.

The chrome plating chemicals are very toxic. Disposal of chemicals is regulated in most countries.



Decorative chrome is designed to be aesthetically pleasing and durable. Typical base materials include steel, aluminium, plastic, copper alloys, and zinc alloys. Decorative chrome plating is also very corrosion resistant and is often used on car parts, tools and kitchen utensils.


Hard chrome finish
Hard chrome plating

Hard chrome, also known as industrial chrome or engineered chrome, is used to reduce friction and improve durability. Hard chromium plating is subject to different types of quality requirements depending on the application.

Automotive use

Most bright decorative items affixed to cars are referred to as "chrome," meaning steel that has undergone several plating processes to endure the temperature changes and weather that a car is subject to outdoors. Triple plating is the most expensive and durable process, which involves plating the steel first with copper and then nickel before the chromium plating is applied.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cromado para niños

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