Chrome plating yourself

Chromed items are abundant in everyday life. Especially when restoring different objects, the question quickly arises as to whether you could not do the chroming yourself. In the following, we have put together a tutorial on how to do the chroming yourself.

Chrome-VI and chrome-III chrome plating

However, before we start with the instructions for chromium plating, something needs to be clarified. Galvanic plants typically use chromium (VI) salts for the electrolysis bath. However, these are highly toxic and must not be sold to private households. The toxicity is even so high that there are deliberations at the level of the European Union to tighten the laws even further and possibly completely ban chromium (VI) salt.

Chrome plating itself made with chrome III solution only

The chrome (VI) salts are what produce the typical bright color of a high quality chrome plating. The chrome plating itself can also be carried out with chromium (III) salts (chromium trioxide). This connection is less critical and may be given to private users. Chromium plating works well, but the chrome layer is slightly darker than chromium (VI) chrome plating.

The chrome plating and the preliminary work

But before you do the chroming yourself, something to the preliminary work. There are many steps to be taken before the actual chrome plating. That's why chrome plating is so costly even in contract manufacturing. The following steps would be ideal:

  • Grind, polish and degrease workpiece
  • Copper the workpiece
  • Polish and degrease the workpiece
  • Nickel the workpiece
  • Polish and degrease the workpiece
  • Activate nickel layer
  • Chrome the workpiece

From this it can already be deduced that not only the chrome plating itself contributes to the high gloss. It is in particular the surface quality of the workpiece to be chromed. The polishing must be done really intense. A good idea of ​​how hard you have to polish, provides our guide and our instructions for polishing aluminum.

High gloss polishing instead of chrome plating on aluminum

This involves the high-gloss compaction of the aluminum surface. Proceed as we describe the process, you get already by simply polishing a surface that shines no less intense than chrome. Especially with components made of aluminum, it is therefore quite worth considering to put on the high-gloss polishing instead of chrome plating.

Chrome plating yourself - what you need

The proceedings

To perform a chrome plating yourself, you need the appropriate tools, tools and fabrics. You also have to differentiate between two different plating processes: pen or tampon plating and bath electroplating.

The material

The specialized trade offers the corresponding tools for both processes. Bear in mind that anode and cathode for chrome plating must be made of graphite, and cotton is unsuitable for tampon plating and microfiber must be used.

The chromium trioxide

In addition, of course you still need the chrome III solution. These can also be purchased through specialized dealers in different container sizes. It has established a provider over the Internet, which also offers other techniques such as nickel plating, copper plating, gilding, etc. There you can also purchase all tools and aids.

Step by step instructions to make a chrome plating yourself

  • Chromium III oxide (chromium trioxide), 185 g
  • Water, 500 ml
  • Sulfuric acid (HS2SO4), 2 g
  • Caustic soda, 25 percent (250 g NaOH and 1 liter of water) or degreaser from specialist retailers
  • Sandpaper in different grain sizes (up to 800 and more)
  • Abrasive pastes (pre-polishing, polishing and high-gloss polishing) and sanding discs (flannel, cotton)
  • polisher
  • Apparatus for bath electroplating or tampon plating
  • Protective clothing (suitable gloves, safety glasses, work clothes)

1. Preparatory work

First comes the sanding, then the polishing. You can sand wet or dry. This is ultimately a personal attitude. Polish the workpiece with grain sizes of up to 800 to 1,200.

Thereafter, the workpiece is degreased. For this purpose, it is bathed in caustic soda and thoroughly rinsed off.

Then follows the copper plating. Here we show you how to copper aluminum. After coppering, the polishing follows again, followed by degreasing. Now the workpiece can be nickel plated.

The specialized trade offers everything that you can also nickel-free without electricity (without electricity). Subsequently, the now nickel-plated workpiece is again polished and degreased. This is followed by activation of the nickel layer. Now you can do the chroming yourself.

2. The chrome plating of the workpiece itself made

It depends on which method you have chosen. For tampon plating follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the device. For bath plating, hang the workpiece in the chrome III solution.

If it is a sheet metal, attach the graphite pins so that one projects into the solution at the front and one at the back. The anode (positive pole) is connected to the workpiece, the cathode (negative pole) projects loosely into the solution.

3. Current and temperature of the solution

For the current, proceed as described in the instructions of the device manufacturer. The chromium III solution must be heated to at least 30 degrees Celsius. If you start chroming at 30 degrees or less, the chrome layer will turn black. Therefore, you should be able to heat the solution to around 40 degrees and be able to hold that temperature.

Tips & Tricks

Although you can do the chrome-plating yourself, it is still relatively expensive. In addition, the first workpieces will certainly not meet your expectations, since the current and solution temperature must be exactly matched.

Video Board: DIY Home Chrome plating kit