Chrome plating – As you must know, this is one of the electroplating processes in CNC machining. It is a popular finish for metal objects. But if you need to change the color or appearance of the desired metal, you will need to remove the chrome in advance. How to remove it? After reading this article, you will get 3 effective ways to remove chrome plating.
Before you start, you need to know that removing chrome plating is not an easy thing, because of requiring professional help. This is because some removal methods require special equipment or chemicals, which may pose a safety hazard if not performed professionally. Without further ado, let’s start now!
What is chrome plating?
We said at the beginning that chrome plating is a kind of electroplating. So, before we understand what chrome plating is, you need to learn what electroplating is.
Electroplating is the process of depositing metal or other materials on the surface of a part through an electrochemical reaction. In layman’s terms, it is the process of adding a surface layer of one metal to another.
Once you understand what electroplating means, you’ll see that chrome plating is essentially adding a surface layer of metallic chrome plating to other metals so that you can achieve the purpose of decoration, corrosion resistance, easy cleaning, or increased surface hardness.
Types of chrome plating
Next, we need to address the type of chrome plating. Different chrome plating methods will produce different effects, and understanding the differences between them will help us choose the correct chrome plating technology to complete our design. Here we have compiled 2 types of chrome plating for you.
Hard chrome, also known as industrial chrome or engineered chrome, is used to reduce friction, increase durability through wear and abrasion resistance, and minimize the wear of parts to return to their original dimensions. The standard thickness range of Hard Chrome is 20 -40 μm.
As the name alone tells us, decorative chrome is the type of chrome used on materials with an aesthetic quality. This also means that it will be much thinner than Hard Chrome. Its thickness ranges from 0.05-0.5 μm, but is usually 0.13-0.25 μm.
Extra tips: Chrome plating usually can be applied in different industries according to material type and usage. At the same time, the application of decorative chrome and hard chrome will also be different. In the automotive industry, for example, hard chrome is often used in engineered components that require strength and durability, such as shock absorbers. If parts require aesthetics, such as wheel rims, body parts, etc., decorative chrome plating is used.
Why do you want to remove chrome plating?
The removal of the chrome plating is not an easy thing to do, so under normal circumstances, it is not easy to remove the chrome plating. But in some cases, you have to. For example, if the metal under the chrome plating is damaged, or the chrome plating is worn or scratched, you will need to remove the chrome plating first, and then repair or apply a new coating.
3 ways to remove chrome plating from metal
Finally arrived at the point of this article, How to remove the chrome layer? In this part, we will introduce you to 3 effective and safe ways to remove chrome plating. let’s start!
Method 1: Use specialized machinery to remove chrome plating
Under this method, you can remove the chrome plating using 2 specialized machines – An abrasive blaster and an ultrasonic cleaner.
Use an abrasive blaster
In the previous article, we introduced the sandblasting process, which refers to the process of grinding materials with a jet of tiny particles. Therefore, in auto repair shops or construction companies, sandblasting machines are used to remove the chrome plating of objects. However, when using it, the following points need to be paid attention to:
- When blasting chrome, a relatively fine-grained medium needs to be chosen to prevent damage to the underlying metal.
- Airborne dust and deposits created when blasting machines chip off tiny chrome flakes can be toxic. Therefore, when operating, it is necessary to wear face or mouth protection.
- This operation does not necessarily reach all areas of the object 100%. Therefore, it needs to be inspected after completion, and repair work should be carried out on the hard-to-reach areas of the object.
Use an Ultrasonic cleaner
Ultrasonic cleaner is also one of the special equipment for removing chrome plating. Just place the chrome directly into the basket of your ultrasonic cleaner, dip it in the cleaning solution, and let it run according to the cleaner’s instructions. But like using a sandblasting machine, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The cleaning solution can use a solvent that dissolves chrome plating instead of water, which can enhance the ability of ultrasonic cleaners to remove chrome plating. However, it needs to be ensured that the solution will not corrode or react in any way with the cleaner.
- While ultrasonic cleaners come in a variety of sizes, they usually only hold smaller objects such as jewelry, nuts, etc.
- Not all chrome can be removed with an ultrasonic cleaner, just some, such as when the chrome has been loosened by other means.
Method 2: Use chemical Solutions to remove chrome plating
Also, you may choose to use some chemical solutions to remove the chrome plating. Here, we will introduce to you several chemical solutions commonly used to remove chrome plating.
As we all know, hydrochloric acid is a strong corrosive acid, which can be used to remove chrome plating at a certain high concentration (30%-40%). How to do it?
- Mix one part hydrochloric acid with two parts water in a vat used for chemical mixtures to create a 30% acid solution. Or directly buy an acid solution of sufficient concentration.
- Dip a chrome-plated object in an acid solution until all the chrome is removed.
- Wash objects thoroughly with soap and water when finished and rinse before drying.
Sodium hydroxide is a highly corrosive and alkaline chemical that can easily dissolve various electroplating layers, including chrome plating. However, it should be noted that sodium hydroxide will have a strong chemical reaction with aluminum, so it cannot be used for objects with aluminum as the base material. How to do it?
- Mix approximately 227ml-355ml of sodium hydroxide with 1 gallon of water in a bucket of neutral material.
- Then immerse the chrome-plated object in the chemical solution until the chrome-plated layer falls off completely.
- Finally, wash the item thoroughly with soap and water and rinse before drying.
Method 3: Use household materials to remove chrome plating
We can also use some household materials to remove the lighter or fake chrome plating. Here, we will introduce you to those household materials that can be used to remove chrome plating.
Homemade abrasive: One of the easiest and most beginner-friendly ways to remove chrome is to use a homemade abrasive. You can do this by mixing baking soda or a solid household cleaner with water to make an abrasive paste and rubbing it onto the chrome with a soft cloth until the chrome starts to come off. However, this method is only suitable for particularly thin and weak chrome plating, and will cost lots of manpower.
Oven cleaner: Some types of chrome can be removed with a commercial-grade oven cleaner, especially the fake plastic variants that may be found on model cars.
Household bleach: Using bleach to remove chrome plating is a common method among model car enthusiasts. However, this method does not necessarily remove the chrome plating, and it takes a long time.
Brake fluid: Standard car brake fluid acts like paint thinner and can remove chrome from plastic objects. However, it should be noted that this method takes a long time and requires correct handling of toxic brake fluid, which has certain potential safety hazards.
You now know how to remove chrome. At the same time, you can also choose a suitable method to remove the chrome plating according to the above guidelines. Of course, if your need is not to remove chrome plating but to chrome your items, then you can choose a professional manufacturer to do it for you, such as Want.net.