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An Updated Thintri MARKET STUDY: 2009:
Chrome Plating Alternatives: Thermal Spray, Electroless Plating, and Others

Thintri Inc. announces the release of Chrome Plating Alternatives, 2009, a new update of its study on alternatives to traditional chrome plating and their markets. This comprehensive examination of the subject discusses the various technologies, the industries in which they will, and won’t, be used, and forecasts to 2014.

Chrome Plating Industry

  • Health and Environmental Issues
  • Effects of Pollution Control Laws
  • The Industry Today
  • Drawbacks in Hard Chrome
  • Economic Factors

Chrome Plating Target Market Analysis

  • Decorative
  • Aerospace
  • Industrial
  • Today’s Economy

Chrome Plating Alternatives

  • Trivalent chrome
  • Plasma spray
  • High velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF)
  • Twin wire arc spray
  • Electro-spark deposition
  • Electroless nickel
  • Electroless nickel boron plating
  • Electroless nickel composite plating
  • Electrodeposited nanocrystalline cobalt-phosphorus coatings
  • Nickel-cobalt alloy coatings
  • Plated tin alloys
  • Explosive bonding
  • Laser cladding
  • Physical vapor deposition (PVD)

Market Demand

forecasts through 2014

  • Decorative
  • Aerospace
    – Actuator hydraulics
    – Landing gear
    – Gas turbines
    – Other components
  • General industrial
    –Marine transportation
    –Steel processing
    –Plastics manufacture
    –Heavy equipment
    –Oil & gas
    –Stamping & molding

Background on Chrome Plating Alternatives

Used as a fundamental coating in a wide range of industries—aerospace, heavy equipment, automotive, papermaking, and others—chrome plating has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Regulations designed to protect against the health and environmental hazards of hexavalent chrome have increased the cost of chrome plating and burdened facilities performing plating services with extensive regulation and paperwork.

A number of alternatives to chrome plating are available. Chrome substitutes are dominated by thermal spray, in particular high-velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF), often favored due to its high strength and wear resistance, relatively low cost, and fast turnaround time. However, other interesting new technologies are now establishing their own markets as well. These include electroless nickel composite plating, which can deposit highly uniform diamond-composite coatings and is not restricted to line-of-sight geometries. Other emerging techniques include explosive bonding, which can be used to fabricate stainless-steel coatings, and electrodeposited nanocrystalline cobalt-phosphorus alloys specifically targeted at inner diameters. Plasma vapor deposition (PVD) can make thin, high quality coatings for less cost, in many cases, than decorative chrome.

At one time many predicted an abrupt changeover from chrome plating to one or more of these new technologies. This has not happened. Indeed, in some cases such as aircraft landing gear, the adoption of HVOF as an alternative to chrome has nearly stalled. A key point of dispute is the notion held by some in airline companies that as aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus manufacture all their landing gear using thermal spray, the coatings will outlast the aircraft themselves, thus relieving airlines of the need to invest in thermal spray shops to perform repairs. This opinion is not, of course, common among thermal spray experts but the question has not yet been resolved. In other important markets, including hydraulics and general industry, adoption of chrome alternatives continues.

And while industry downsizing and consolidation have led to the closure or offshore relocation of as many as half of the chrome plating shops in North America, the chrome plating market today is fairly stable:

  • Many chrome plating shops, having accommodated new regulations, are now thriving
  • Many customers have little or no interest in giving up on chrome
  • Promoters of chrome substitutes still face hurdles in customer education
  • The legislative push toward restricting chrome plating has stabilized in North America
  • Europe is ambivalent and Asia is largely unconcerned with regulating chrome plating

Suppliers of alternative coating technologies are facing highly segmented markets where some chrome plating users are resistant to making large capital investments in new coating technologies, while others have embraced alternatives. Yet all face highly uncertain markets in the current economic climate, buffeted by wild swings in the cost of raw materials and an overall severe recession.

Understand the Markets

Success for chrome plating alternatives will depend almost completely on a balance of cost and performance that will be highly application-specific. Many, if not most, chrome substitutes like thermal spray will require higher up-front costs, usually in the form of equipment purchases. However, longer lifetimes and reduced frequency of repairs can lead to significant long-term savings, not to mention the benefits of improved performance. Other alternatives offer a crossover benefit that depends on the scale of implementation or other factors. For example, PVD is more expensive than chrome for small lots but can be significantly less expensive in large-scale production. Most alternatives also offer a large advantage in reduced hazardous waste management costs compared to hexavalent chrome. Thintri’s market study Chrome Plating Alternatives examines each of the leading alternative technologies in detail: its capabilities, limitations and applications. The report also explores the potential in major target markets and forecasts markets to 2014.

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Report Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Executive Summary

Chapter 2: Introduction

Chapter 3: The Chrome Plating Industry

3.1     Chromium           
3.2     Chrome Plating           
3.3     Health and Environmental Effects           
3.4     Effects of Pollution Control Legislation           

3.4.1   OSHA’s Proposed PEL        

3.5 The Industry Today           

Chapter 4: Market Drivers and Target Markets

4.1 Overview: The Need for Chrome Plating Alternatives           
4.2 Target Markets in Chrome Plating           

4.2.1  Decorative Chrome Plating Markets        
4.2.2  Hard Chrome Plating Markets Aerospace Markets for Hard Chrome Plating Actuator Hydraulics Landing Gear Gas Turbines Other Aircraft Components  Oil Field, Heavy Equipment, and General Industrial Markets for Hard Chrome        

4.3  Drawbacks in Using Hard Chrome           
4.4  Economic Factors           

Chapter 5: Chrome Plate Alternative Technologies

5.1  Trivalent Chromium           
5.2  Thermal Spray           

5.2.1 Thermal Spray Technologies Today        
5.2.2  Plasma Spray        
5.2.3  High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF)        
5.2.4  Twin Wire Arc Spray        
5.2.5  Powders        
5.2.6  Line of Sight, Inner Diameter Issues        
5.2.7  Stripping and Grinding Issues        
5.2.8  Health & Environmental Issues in Thermal Spray        

5.3 Plating Alternatives to Chrome           

5.3.1 Electroless Nickel Plating Electroless Nickel Boron  Electroless Nickel Composite Plating        

5.3.2  Electrodeposited Nanocrystalline Coatings        
5.3.3  Plated Nickel-Cobalt Alloys        
5.3.4  Plated Tin Alloys        

5.4 Electrospark Deposition           
5.5  Explosive Bonding           
5.6  Laser Cladding           
5.7  Vacuum Techniques           

5.7.1  PVD        
5.7.2  Intensified Plasma-Assisted Processing        

Chapter 6: Market Forecasts

6.1   Target Markets, Penetration          
6.2   Industrial Demand and Forecasts        

6.2.1  Oil Field Applications        
6.2.2  General Hydraulics        
6.2.3  Other General Industry       

6.3  Aerospace Demand and Forecasts         

6.3.1  Commercial vs. Defense Demand      
6.3.2  Opportunities in Overhaul and Repair vs. Manufacture  
6.3.3  Landing Gear       
6.3.4  Aircraft Hydraulics      
6.3.5  Gas Turbines Aircraft Gas Turbines IGTs      

6.3.6  Other Aerospace Applications      

6.4  Thermal Spray Supplier Markets and Forecasts       

6.4.1  Wear Coatings Markets     
6.4.2  Markets for Services        
6.4.3  Cost Issues        
6.4.4  Geographic Segmentation     
6.4.5  Powder Providers and Markets 
6.4.6  Equipment Providers and Markets 
6.4.7  HVOF vs. Plasma vs. Wire Arc

6.5  Markets For Decorative Chrome Alternatives           

Tables and Figures


  • Fig. 3-1   California Statewide Air Toxics Summary, Chromium Emissions  
  • Fig. 4-1   Worldwide Chrome Plating Demand, Hard vs. Decorative, 2009  
  • Fig. 4-2   Geographic Distribution, Hard Chrome Production  
  • Fig. 4-3   Global Hard Chrome Market Breakdown, 2009  
  • Fig. 4-4   Aerospace Chrome Plating Market Segments, 2009  
  • Fig. 4-5   Aerospace Hard Chrome Markets, Commercial vs. Defense, 2009  
  • Fig. 4-6   Hard Chrome Demand Segmentation in Gas Turbines,Aerospace vs. IGT, 2009  
  • Fig. 6-1   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Oil and Gas Applications  
  • Fig. 6-2   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Oil and Gas Sector  
  • Fig. 6-3   Thermal Spray Services Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Oil and Gas Sector  
  • Fig. 6-4   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, General Hydraulics Applications  
  • Fig. 6-5   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, General Hydraulics  
  • Fig. 6-6   Thermal Spray Services Forecast, General Hydraulics  
  • Fig. 6-7   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Other General Industry Applications  
  • Fig. 6-8   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Other General Industry  
  • Fig. 6-9   Market for Services, Other General Industry  
  • Fig. 6-10   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Aerospace Applications  
  • Fig. 6-11   Hard Chrome Aerospace Target Market Forecast, by Sector  
  • Fig. 6-12   Defense vs. Commercial Aerospace Demand, Thermal Spray Powder in Chrome Replacement  
  • Fig. 6-13   Defense vs. Commercial Aerospace Demand, Thermal Spray Services  
  • Fig. 6-14   Aerospace Thermal Spray Opportunities in Chrome Replacement, Manufacture vs. Repair  
  • Fig. 6-15   Aerospace Overhaul & Repair, Outsource vs. In-House  
  • Fig. 6-16   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Landing Gear  
  • Fig. 6-17   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Landing Gear
  • Fig. 6-18   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Aircraft Hydraulics
  • Fig. 6-19   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Aircraft Hydraulics 
  • Fig. 6-20   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Gas Turbines  
  • Fig. 6-21   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Aircraft Gas Turbines  
  • Fig. 6-23   Hard Chrome Target Market Forecast, Other Aerospace Applications 
  • Fig. 6-24   Thermal Spray Powder Forecast, Chrome Replacement, Other Aerospace  
  • Fig. 6-25   Thermal Spray Services Forecast, Overall Aerospace  
  • Fig. 6-26   Overall Thermal Spray Market Forecast, All Applications 
  • Fig. 6-27   Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coatings Consumables Market Forecast  
  • Fig. 6-28   Thermal Spray Wear Coatings Market Forecast Confined to Chrome Replacement  
  • Fig. 6-29   Cost Breakdown, Thermal Spray Coatings  
  • Fig. 6-30   Evolution of HVOF Carbide Powder Prices, Combined Average for WC-Co 
  • Fig. 6-31   Geographic Segmentation and Forecast, Thermal Spray Powders, Chrome Replacement  
  • Fig. 6-32   Geographic Segmentation and Forecast, Thermal Spray Equipment  
  • Fig. 6-33   Thermal Spray Powder Market Segments  
  • Fig. 6-34   Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coating Powder Forecast  
  • Fig. 6-36   Market Share, Carbide Powder Producers  
  • Fig. 6-37   Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coating Equipment Market Forecast 
  • Fig. 6-38   Market Share, Thermal Spray Equipment Producers  
  • Fig. 6-39   Market Share, Plasma Spray Equipment Producers  
  • Fig. 6-40   Market Share, HVOF Equipment Producers  
  • Fig. 6-41   Market Share, Wire Arc Equipment Producers  
  • Fig. 6-42   Chrome Replacement Thermal Spray Segmentation and Forecast, Consumables  
  • Fig. 6-43   Thermal Spray Segmentation, Equipment  
  • Fig. 6-44   Thermal Spray Segmentation and Forecast, Equipment  
  • Fig. 6-45   Forecast, Decorative Metallic Coatings Market  
  • Fig. 6-46   Decorative Coating Market Segmentation and Forecast  


  • Table 3-1   Domestic Sodium Dichromate & Chromic Acid Production, US  
  • Table 3-2   Typical Process Parameters for Chrome Plating, Conventional Baths  
  • Table 3-3   Symptoms of Hexavalent Chromium Exposure Among Chrome Plating and Chromium Chemical Workers  
  • Table 6-1   Realistic Hard Chrome Target Markets 
  • Table 6-2   Time Study Results, HVOF vs. Chrome Plating on a Landing Gear Piston  

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