Head to Head: Hard Chrome Plating vs. Electroless Nickel Plating


It’s no secret that plating machinery, parts, and tools go a long way toward extending the life and increasing the output of your equipment. The protective finish will battle corrosion and wear, and often looks great too.

Manufacturers most commonly opt for either Hard Chrome plating or Electroless Nickel plating, which can adhere to most metals. They’re both unmatched in their ability to coat an array of surfaces evenly. They’re hard, durable, and resist wear because of their low friction.

Using an electric current to bind to the material, Hard Chrome plating isn’t the same as what they use for decking out motorcycles and cars. Hard Chrome is industrial grade, engineered for its hardness, durability, and friction resistance.

Electroless Nickel plating is just that -- electroless. A chemical reaction causes the plating to adhere to the surface. It’s superb for corrosion resistance and its smooth, uniform coating, limiting moisture interaction.

The main things you’ll want to consider when choosing the right plating are how you’re going to use the equipment, and where you’re going to use it. We’ll compare the two, so you’ll have a better idea of which one suits your needs.

Harsh Environments - Knowing where the equipment will be used is critical in choosing the right plating. While Hard Chrome is harder than Nickel, Nickel is less affected by extreme temperatures and moisture environments. Hard Chrome thrives in moderate environments, while Nickel can withstand wildly varying conditions.

Durability - Hard Chrome and Electroless Nickel plating are so popular because they dominate in durability. Due to its extreme hardness, Hard Chrome is slightly more durable than Nickel. It will generally wear less and is best suited for high-friction conditions. As stated above, extreme environments will affect Hard Chrome’s hardness and durability.

Corrosion Resistance - While both offer superior resistance to corrosion, Nickel has the edge. The smooth finish resulting from the chemical process makes it all but impossible for water to penetrate the coating, let alone the vital parts.

Irregular Shapes - Another reason Hard Chrome and Electroless Nickel plating are the most widely used coatings is their ability to plate irregularly-shaped objects evenly. Nickel has the advantage with irregular shapes and holes, as Hard Chrome will often need additional polishing to achieve a smooth, uniform finish.

Hard Chrome is the stronger, more durable plating. Electroless Nickel, however, is popular for its simpler application process.

Every situation is different, and our professionals can help you figure out which plating is the right one for your job. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.