Chrome, short for the element chromium, is being used in many industries from kitchen accessories to clothing fabrics to furniture trimmings. The largest user of chrome is the automotive industry. Trim, accessories, and parts under the hood are all being plated with chrome for a bright and shiny look.
Chrome has to be applied through an electroplating process whereas the base of which the chrome will be applied will receive a negative charge and given a "bath" in a positively charged chromium tub. This concept is very similar to an electrostatic spray painting used on car bodies except instead of a spray, the item is dipped. After this process is completed, the chrome is almost indestructible and impossible to remove.
One of the biggest attractions to use chrome in the auto industry besides its sleek finish is that it can be applied to almost any surface, including copper, iron and other metal bases making its versatility easy to use anywhere on a vehicle. In the 1970's, it was also discovered that a chrome plating could be applied to plastic. This allowed cheaper components, like plastic, to be chrome plated making it conducive for use as automotive parts and reducing production costs.
Another advantage of chrome, especially with auto parts, is the protective coating it provides. Its durability enables longevity without corroding or oxidizing; moreover, chrome is able to withstand extreme temperatures and environmental conditions. This makes it ideal for use on vehicles because they are sometimes exposed to all kinds of circumstances.
Once components are chrome plated, they can be reused. If a part is damaged or worn, the part can be refurbished and re-plated saving money spent on new parts, time looking for those new parts, and waste in the environment. Chrome plating is also convenient because it can be done at your local custom auto shop. Many auto body finishers have a good bit of experience in chrome finishing. Because this is an electrolytic process, having someone who is experiences in plating is a must. Chromium is still an element that should be given respect with discarding into the environment. In its plated form, there are not many hazards to be concerned with; however, the liquid chromic acid should be handled with caution and guidelines should be strictly followed.
Chrome's bright and shiny surface has been useful in all types of automotive parts, and its popularity is increasing in furniture, appliances and other decorative applications. The many advantages of chrome will continue to make this uniquely beautiful, popular finish for use on products far into the future.