Decorative trivalent chromium processes Has been used in the decorative market globally for over 40 years. With the upgrading of the hazard level of hexavalent chrome processes as a CMR source, a comparison of the processes is of interest. The major benefit of Trivalent chromium processes is that they are much more versatile. These benefits are summarized below:
- All trivalent chromium processes have complete tolerance to current interruption. If the power goes off when plating in a hex bath you need to strip and replate, with tri you can just continue.
- Due to the processes higher efficiency, low current density areas are covered more completely.
- Barrel plating with trivalent chrome is possible, you cannot do this with hexavalent chrome.
- Distribution is much more uniform.
- Used with ion exchange, the process offers excellent resistance to metallic contamination.
- Chemical purification along with dummy plating are also methods used widely to control contaminants.
- More wear and corrosion resistance compared to hexavalent processes - ~ 20% more in both areas
- Lower hardness than hexavalent chrome - 600-800 against 700-950 Hv
- Good performance in automotive corrosion protection - In excess of 450 hrs NSS and 72 hours CASS from well managed process
- Trivalent deposit appearance is different to hexavalent chrome - Slightly darker and not as blue
- But there is now a process in the market that is almost identical in color to hexavalent chromium
See below 2 pictures depicting the different appearance of the deposits:
Spectral image of the comparison between Hexavalent and Trivalent chrome using Hunter Labs ColorQuest XE Colorimeter: