Alternatives to Hard Chrome Plating

Alternatives to hard chrome plating

Hard chrome plating

Hard chrome plating roared onto the scene in the 1920s and was primarily used on motorcycles and cars to combat corrosion and wear.

Hard chrome plating provides a shiny, hard and anti-corrosive surface on existing metals. It is used in both industrial and decorative applications due to its abrasion resistance and other unique properties. From corrosion protection to resistance to sliding wear or abrasion, hard chrome plating is a favored option for appearance and strength. However, modern metallurgical science has provided thermal spray coating options with many similar wear and resistance qualities. The use of hard chrome plating is heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States because it is a known carcinogenic process. This means increased protective measures — and costs — now follow the use of the material.

Hexavalent Chromium containing material is under REACH requirement and authorization list in the EU and is heavily regulated by the EPA in the United States.  It is the most toxic form of Chromium and is a known carcinogen.  The hard chromium plating process uses hexavalent chromium based raw materials in plating tanks and emits a mist into the air that must be ducted away and removed by scrubbers. Wastes generated also must be treated and disposed as hazardous waste.  It is included in the list of chemicals that have been identified as substances of very high concern, the use of which is restricted and can only be used under authorization in Europe. 

Alternatives to hard chrome plating

While chrome (and cadmium) platings are inexpensive and easy to apply, their environmental and health risks outweigh the benefits. At Praxair Surface Technologies, our broad portfolio of coating materials and application technologies ensures you get equivalent or better performance compared to hexavalent chrome and cadmium containing platings without associated environmental regulations and employee hazards.

Whatever the problem, we have a coating solution for it. Below are some of the REACH-compliant options available as replacements for hexavalent chrome and cadmium coatings and platings. For us, each problem is a unique event, requiring a unique answer. Rather than forcing a standard solution, we’re interested in making more possible. That’s why we’ll work directly with you to understand your unique challenge and find the solution that gets you more performance from your parts and equipment.


The same performance without the risks

The coating applications and associated coatings below are developed to effectively replace chrome and cadmium plating and ultimately improve the performance of your most critical components.


Performance Characteristics


Our SermaLoy® J CF chrome-free diffusion coating offers protection against hot corrosion and oxidation attack in the combustor and turbine sections. Compatible with austenitic stainless steel and nickel- and cobalt-based superalloys, the diffusion SermaLoy J CF treatment can be tailored to each alloy and application. With a relatively low diffusion temperature, the post-coating heat treatment process is eliminated, which allows components to be refurbished without risking damage to brazed joints.

Engineered Slurries

Looking for unsurpassed protection against aqueous corrosion and heat scaling, as well as erosion and abrasion resistance? Our SermeTel™ CF chrome-free coatings systems offers that and more. SermeTel™ 2F-1 CF coating is designed to provide protection from severely corrosive conditions. Suitable applications include bearing supports, cases, shafts, compressor blades and vanes. SermeTel™ 6F-1 CF coating provides corrosion protection in high-temperature conditions and meets stringent OEM gas turbine specifications. SermeTel™ 5380 CF coating offers advanced corrosion protection with a smoother surface finish that improves efficiency for compressor components.

Thermal Spray Coatings

Tungsten carbide-cobalt chromium (WC-CoCr) and tungsten carbide-nickel chromium (WC-NiCr) coatings offer extraordinary hardness, wear protection and improved corrosion protection to that of hard chrome plating for hard face coating or dimensional restoration of many airframe components such as landing gear, flight actuators, thrust reversers and tracks. These tungsten carbide coatings along with chromium carbide and complex carbide coatings offer properties equivalent and better than hard chrome plating for many industrial and energy components like hydraulic cylinder rods, power section mud rotors, steel mill process (work) rolls, and calendar rolls used in the plastics and paper industries. And, select your level of protection based on the thermal spray application process that is right for your application: detonation gun (D-Gun) or Super D-Gun™, high-velocity oxy fuel (HVOF) or plasma.  

Our new advanced high velocity process, ExoGardTM has four coating families that address different market needs from replacing hard chrome plating for REACH-compliance to creating best-in-class coatings for wear protection. The four families are: ExoGreenTM, ExoProTM, ExoShieldTM, and ExoFilmTM.

Zinc-Nickel Plating

As a proven cadmium plating replacement, zinc-nickel plating (ZnNi) offers excellent sacrificial corrosion protection for steel and very good protection against white rust formation. The coating's high hardness combined with low hydrogen embrittlement makes it a viable replacement solution.

We don’t just offer replacement coatings. We can help you make the switch with the right materials, testing and qualification support.