I'm a sucker for old car and bike building programs and was watching American
Chopper the other day. It was the one where they built a bike for the Yankees
baseball team and Vinney was clearly shown turning the handlebars from solid
aluminium bar. My curiosity was piqued by the fact these bars were shown
chromed at the end of the program and I'd always understood aluminium to be hard
or impossible to chrome, is that not true ? Where can you get ally chromed in
the UK ?
Have you met Mr Google?
I've had machined aluminum microwave circuit enclosures nickel plated
cheaply enough. It's easier when they don't need a polished finish.
Nickel keeps the EMI gasket surfaces conductive longer.
Plating another metal like chromium onto aluminium is a little tricky,
but it's done routinely in many plating shops.
It is a bit specialised, and not all plating shops offer it, but it is
not that uncommon.
The process is a bit different to plating steel or brass, especially the
preparation stages, and many companies do not have or routinely operate
the many extra tanks needed - for instance, the process described below
will need 19 or 20 baths, only about 7 of which would be used in plating
more usual substrates.
Most often the surface is cleaned, stripped, polished, cleaned,
stripped, zincated, stripped, zincated again, a thin cyanide copper or
electroless nickel strike is plated on the zincated layer, then
electrical copper and/or nickel, then chrome.
It's not a job for the amateur, as you need hydrofluoric acid, cyanide
and chrome VI baths for best results (though it can be done without, and
electroless nickel can be substituted for cyanide copper with reasonable
results, but otherwise the result is not usually very good).
Note that cast aluminium alloys do not usually plate well unless they
are a special plateable grade. The same is true of some other aluminium
alloys. There are a few shops which specialise in plating these alloys,
but they are usually more expensive.
This can cause some uncertainty and distress for the plater, as some
cast aluminium alloys can wreck a very expensive electroless nickel bath
- it also means that some shops will not plate random objects which
could be made of troublesome alloys.
All this means that chrome plating aluminium is usually quite a bit more
expensive than chrome plating steel or copper alloys.
I can't recommend anyone from personal experience unless you are talking
about the large end of industrial scale (and I'm not entirely sure I'd
recommend my old firm), but most good shops should either be able to do
it themselves or know a man-who-can.
Plating aluminium onto another metal is another matter, and very
difficult and expensive. But you weren't asking about that :)
-- Peter Fairbrother
That's a strange assertion; also unclear. When you say "strength", do
you mean ultimate tensile strength in tension, yield point in bending,
or stiffness under reversible load. From your reference to Young's
modulus, I assume you mean the latter, as YM has no relevance to the
Deflection s of, say, a tubular section cantilever is given by
s = WL^3/3EI,
where W is the applied load, L is the length, E is Young's modulus of
the material, and I the moment of inertia of the cross section of the
For a tubular beam, I = 0.049(D^4-d^4),
where D is the outside diameter and d is the inside diameter.
Now tell me how that means that stiffness is not dependent on wall
Similar factors apply to failure modes, though I don't have the details
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