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Chromate conversion coating

Chromate conversion coating is a type of conversion coating applied to passivate aluminium, zinc, cadmium, copper, silver, magnesium, tin and their alloys to slow corrosion. The process uses various toxic chromium compounds which may include hexavalent chromium. The industry is developing less toxic alternatives in order to comply with substance restriction legislation such as RoHS. One alternative is trivalent chromate conversion which is not as effective but less environmentally damaging.

Chromating is commonly used on zinc-plated parts to protect the zinc from white corrosion, which is primarily a cosmetic issue. It cannot be applied directly to steel or iron, and does not enhance zinc's anodic protection of the underlying steel from brown corrosion. It is also commonly used on aluminium alloy parts in the aircraft industry where it is often called chemical film. It has additional value as a primer for subsequent organic coatings, as untreated metal, especially aluminium, is difficult to paint or glue. Chromated parts retain their electrical conductivity to varying degrees, depending on coating thickness. The process may be used to add color for decorative or identification purposes.

Chromate coatings are soft and gelatinous when first applied but harden and become hydrophobic as they age. Curing can be accelerated by heating up to 70C, but higher temperatures will gradually damage the coating over time. Some chromate conversion processes use brief degassing treatments at temperatures of up to 200C. Coating thickness vary from a few nanometers to a few micrometers thick.

The protective effect of chromate coatings on zinc is indicated by color, progressing from clear/blue to yellow, gold, olive drab and black. Darker coatings generally provide more corrosion resistance. Chromate conversion coatings are common on everyday items such as hardware and tools and usually have a distinctive yellow color.

Phosphate coatings on iron and steel may also be treated with a chromic acid rinse to enhance the phosphate coating.

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Article/information contributed by.............. Let's Finish it Team

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