Nickel chrome plating also called decorative chrome plating is the most general plating technique used in metal decorative plating. A layer or multiple layers of nickel will be electroplated on an object before a thin chrome layer is plated on the object. The layer of nickel exhibits its properties of high smoothness, high reflectivity and corrosion resistance. The chrome layer that deposits on the top of the nickel layer is a very thin layer which measures in the millionths of an inch. The chrome layer is bluish while the underneath nickel layer is yellowish. The function of the chrome layer helps to provide scratch resistance (abrasion resistance) and tarnish resistance. In addition, it will also enhance corrosion resistance and provide low frictional coefficient. Hence, without applying the additional nickel layer, the finish will not manifest its decorative, reflective and rust resistance properties. Due to the aforementioned properties, nickel chrome plating is extensively used in automotive parts, motorcycle parts, kitchen utensils and sanitary hardware.
Although decorative chrome plating is able to achieve durability and shiny surface, there are a few of disadvantages using traditional chrome plating technique. The uniformity of the deposited layer is not good and the hexavalent chromium is toxic and hazardous. However, the spray chrome method can be used as an alternative to the traditional decorative chrome plating.
Most people have misunderstanding of difference between chrome plating and nickel chrome plating. Chrome plating is usually referred to hard chrome plating which involves heavy depositions of chromium in order to provide high wear resistance, oil retention ability. The hard chrome plating is used as functional purpose to add durability of the parts instead of decorative purpose. Hard chrome plating is mainly applied to the parts which will be subjected to a very high degree of wear (thicker layer is required), such as piston rings, piston rods, motor shafts, fasteners, machinery parts, etc.