For many, the question of whether chrome is a finish or a metal has a seemingly obvious answer, but that answer may be trickier than you think, even if you think you know.
Uncovering the mystery of chrome is a matter of science, language, interpretation and even marketing. What we know as chrome – that silvery metallic look on everything from <a title="Lighting Fixtures" href="http://www.atgstores.com/lighting_1122.html" target="_blank">lighting fixtures</a> and <a title="Lamps" href="http://www.atgstores.com/lamps_869.html" target="_blank">lamps</a> to tools and tailpipes – is much more than meets the eye.
<strong>Chrome … or Chromium?</strong>
Chromium – surprise, surprise – is in fact a metal … used exclusively as a finish! At atomic number 24 on the Periodic Table, chromium boasts some pretty wild characteristics, not least of which are its glittering silver color and super-high melting point.
The term “chrome” actually refers to the process of electroplating a thin coating of chromium onto another metal or even plastic. Far more than decorative, chrome plating makes objects more durable, easier to clean and less likely to rust.
Despite its amazing properties, however, it is extraordinarily rare to see anything made of solid chromium. This is due to how chromium is extracted and the fact that a chrome coating has the same benefits of solid chromium at a fraction of the cost.
<strong>Chrome Finishes: Real or Fake?</strong>
Right now, chrome is probably sounding pretty awesome to you. Sparkly! Strong! Rust Preventer! Yes, chrome is all of those things, but not everything is chrome – and that may be a good thing.
The unvarnished (un ... chromed?) truth is that the process of chrome plating is highly toxic. And while the plating itself is stable, you wouldn’t want to eat it. In any event, the increased costs associated with abiding by environmental and health regulations has made true chrome plating a very expensive prospect, so of course scientists set about creating alternatives.
There are several methods, ranging from chrome-colored paint (which has none of chrome’s benefits) to processes like thermal spraying, powder-coating, nickel-composite plating, zinc plating and something called "explosive bonding," which is about as hardcore as it sounds in terms of retaining chrome’s properties. But, when it comes to comparing these alternatives to chrome ...
<strong>How Do I Identify Real Chrome Plating?</strong>
The most reasonable answer is that you don’t – unless you want to get your hands dirty. You’ll be doing well by avoiding chrome-colored paint, which is easy enough to identify by its lack of crisp sparkle and lower sticker price. Have no doubt that you'll know it when you see it.
What stands out most about real chrome is its pure mirror reflection. A good way to test it is to hold a measuring tape up to the chrome surface. If you can clearly read the numbers several inches deep into the reflection, you’re staring into the brilliance of real chrome plating.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes this helps you know your chrome.