Hexavalent Chromium vs Trivalent Chromium Plating

Chromium plating is the coating of choice for many metal finishing applications, primarily due to its superior wear resistance, surface hardness, and bright aesthetics when compared to other metal finishes. The compound Hexavalent Chromium (CR6) has been part of the metal finishing industry since chrome electroplating was first commercialized. From those humble beginnings, the chrome plating industry has grown to thousands of businesses, producing tens of billions of dollars in revenue.  Most of this growth took place long before the EPA released its toxicology review (3) concerning the harmful effects of Hex Chrome. Almost eighty years after the Chrome Plating Industry was born in 1924 (1), OSHA identified hex chrome (CR6) as carcinogenic (2) and therefore harmful to employees when exposed to its fumes. Since then, scientists have set out to find a safer alternative to hexavalent chromium that would deliver equivalent results. 

Hexavalent Chromium vs Trivalent Chromium

Aqueous based (non-ionic liquid) trivalent chromium plating solutions have been tested and fielded in some plating shops across the US for over three decades now, with limited success.   The investment in equipment for many of these businesses as been substantial. The costs required to transition to a Trivalent Chromium solution has prevented many chrome plating shops from converting over. Also, the inferior performance issues of several existing aqueous Trivalent products have prevented chrome plating shops and OEM companies from taking action and making the switch.

Enter SAFE Chrome®. Trion Coatings has developed what we believe to be the best alternative to hexavalent chromium and existing aqueous trivalent chromium chemistries on the market today. SAFE Chrome® uses ionic liquids to electroplate chromium onto various components at a faster rate with less consumption of electricity and chemistry.

Why SAFE Chrome®

We can adapt a SAFE Chrome® solution to your application for decorative, thin dense, and functional purposes. Select the application below that works best for your operation to display the most relevant answers to your question, “Why”. Or just request a Demo of SAFE Chrome® by registering here

How Does

Reach and RoHS Compliance Apply to Metal Plating?

Hexavalent chromium is widely documented and listed as a known carcinogen and hazardous waste material by several agencies and industry groups.  Metal finishing companies and their customers have been searching for decades for alternatives to processes using chromium trioxide and chromic acid that generate hexavalent chromium. The European Chemicals agency created a directive called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) to regulate chemicals and their safe use. Chromium trioxide and chromic Acid are listed by REACH as a Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). REACH places a restriction or ban on supply chain usage of chemicals that produce hexavalent chromium.

RoHS is the Restriction of Hazardous Substances. It restricts the use of hexavalent chromium in electrical and electronic equipment.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is proposing a ban on decorative and functional chromium plating processes that contain hexavalent chromium. 

SAFE Chrome is REACH Compliant, RoHS Compliant, and considered by CARB as an allowable alternative.