Chrome tough enough for harsh conditions

Apr 20, 2016

Chrome tough enough for harsh conditions

20th Apr 2016

Unless you are intimately involved in the creation of chrome plated components for the automotive industry, as Borough has been for more than 50 years, you might imagine plastic components, despite the chrome, do not have the durability of metal parts.

And this can be a problem when we talk about chrome plating plastic components. Talk of plastic chrome or chromed plastic, as some refer to it, conjures up images of thinly applied chrome on cheap plastic parts.

Even within the automotive industry there are many who do not realise the chrome plating is much the same as that used for plating metal components. These are people who do not expect the chrome to be cool to the touch, clearly believing we have somehow perfected the creation of various chrome effect finishes, without need for the element Chromium (symbol Cr and atomic number 24).

Electroplating plastic components with a layer of chromium provides corrosion resistance and increased hardness in addition to the decorative appearance. And of course for automotive designers our services deliver the added advantage of weight-saving over metal components, whilst offering greater design flexibility with modern plastics to achieve the same high quality chrome finish for decorative parts.

Plating plastic components, mostly ABS, with chrome ensures not only a high quality appearance, but durability to match. We are used to our components being fitted on some of the world’s most prestigious marques, where the quality of finish is paramount, but recently durability of some components has been the major consideration.

Headlamp bezels, created for one of the most famous truck manufacturers, are really putting the quality of our chrome plating skills to the test, as they must not only look good, but withstand harsh environments, as shown by the photographs.

The typical weather suffered on the roads of the UK by much of our output is a big enough test, but trucks can present a far bigger test and not just with the excessive miles. A multitude of impacts can be expected from stones and debris on forestry, quarry and construction sites, not to mention the chemicals often used in de-icing and snow-removal operations.

Although in the UK we typically treat roads in winter with grit, it is actually rock salt, which lowers the freezing point of moisture on the road surface to stop ice forming and causes existing ice or snow to melt. But in northern latitudes where snow and ice can be extreme, particularly in the US chemicals often added to the road treatments can cause problems for exterior components on vehicles.

We have developed an enviable reputation for our work inside and outside some of the top marques, adding highlights of luxury where needed, which plays to our artistic side. But it is our work with mirrors and headlamp bezels for mighty trucks that plays to the more macho nature of the engineering sector we represent.

So until the Ministry of Defence decides to garnish tanks with chrome embellishments for parade days, trucks will have to do as the ultimate test for the strength and resilience of our chrome plating.