Hard chrome, also known as industrial chrome or engineered chrome, is used to reduce friction, improve durability through abrasion tolerance and wear resistance in general, minimize galling or seizing of parts, expand chemical inertness to include a broader set of conditions (especially oxidation resistance, arguably its most famous quality), and bulking material for worn parts to restore their original dimensions.[5] It is very hard, measuring between 65 and 69 HRC (also based on the base metal’s hardness). Hard chrome tends to be thicker than decorative chrome, with standard thicknesses in nonsalvage applications ranging from 0.2 to 0.6 mm (200 to 600 µm), but it can be an order of magnitude thicker for extreme wear resistance requirements, in such cases 1 mm (1,000 µm) or thicker provides optimal results. Unfortunately, such thicknesses emphasize the limitations of the process, which are overcome by plating extra thickness then grinding down and lapping to meet requirements or to improve the overall aesthetics of the “chromed” piece. [2] Increasing plating thickness amplifies surface defects and roughness in proportional severity, because hard chrome does not have a leveling effect.[6] Pieces that are not ideally shaped in reference to electric field geometries (nearly every piece sent in for plating, except spheres and egg shaped objects) require even thicker plating to compensate for non-uniform deposition, and much of it is wasted when grinding the piece back to desired dimensions.

Modern “engineered coatings” do not suffer such drawbacks, which often price hard chrome out due to labor costs alone. Hard chrome replacement technologies outperform hard chrome in wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and cost. Rockwell hardness 80 is not extraordinary for such materials. Using spray deposition, uniform thickness that often requires no further polishing or machining is a standard feature of modern engineered coatings. These coatings are often composites of polymers, metals, and ceramic powders or fibers as proprietary embodiments protected by patents or as trade secrets, and thus are usually known by brand names. [7]

Hard chromium plating is subject to different types of quality requirements depending on the application; for instance, the plating on hydraulic piston rods are tested for corrosion resistance with a salt spray test.