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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive
(Hard Chrome Plating)

by Larry Zitko, ChromeTech, Inc.
March, 2002

Material Substitution in Hard Chrome Plating

Q. Where are good sources of information on material substitution, pollution prevention related to metal electroplating?

A. Thanks for submitting your question to NMFRC's "Ask the Expert" feature. Since this forum is limited to hard chromium plating, I will limit my answer to related topics.

Hard chromium electroplating has become more regulated due to the potential health risks associated with the hexavalent chromium electrolyte. It is my opinion that the process can be performed in a manner which imparts very limited risk to workers, neighbors and the environment. However, there exists a significant amount activity surrounding the concept of replacing hard chromium electroplating with less toxic alternatives. The following items may be of interest to you.

  • Several papers on the topic were presented at the Jan. 29-31, 2001 AESF/EPA Conference for Environmental Excellence (Orlando, FL). Session J: Alternative Processes features papers about Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), alloy deposits and composite deposits containing tungsten, silicon, silicon carbide, diamond, boron nitride, and other materials.
  • One of the most successful alternatives to hard chromium electroplating for line-of-sight applications has been High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF) technology. See the Hard Chrome Alternatives Team website at http://www.hcat.org/about.html.
  • The Joint Group on Pollution Prevention has several active projects relating to the replacement of hard chromium electroplating. See http://www.jgpp.com/projects/projects_index.html.
  • McDermott Technology Inc. is promoting a concept that incorporates grain-refinement and Hall-Petch strengthening techniques with cobalt-based electrolytes. An article revealing the intended implementation at U.S. Dept. of Defense rework, maintenance and manufacturing facilities may be found at http://www.serdp.org/research/PP/PP-1152.pdf.

I hope this information helps.

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