It is common for people to find fault with the materials used in manufacturing. In some instances, their criticisms are accurate and warranted. In others, the critics are simply misinformed.
An example of the latter is the chromium coatings that can be applied to stainless-steel parts, tools, and equipment. Chromium provides a long list of benefits to the companies that produce metal items and the people who use them. Still, some make unfounded or inaccurate claims about it.
Addressing Chromium Misconceptions
One criticism leveled against chromium has to do with its ecological impact. People say that it harms the environment. Chromium can indeed be harmful to ecosystems if manufacturers handle or dispose of it carelessly. However, the same is true of many other substances used in manufacturing.
And there are also several chemicals commonly found in the home that can be harmful to the environment if not used properly. The expectation is that manufacturers, like consumers, will follow the applicable guidelines for handling chemicals. When they do, chromium does not do any ecological harm.
Another undeserved criticism of chromium centers on its effectiveness. Some people see it as a substance that is “past its prime.” Companies loudly proclaim that newly developed materials are the “strongest” and “most durable yet”—often without substantiating their claims—causing people to believe that chromium does not protect as well as they do.
The fact is that chromium provides tremendous strength and is very durable. In addition, due to its “veteran” status, product designers, manufacturers, and coatings companies have a deep understanding of its properties and characteristics and consequently know how to use it to great effect.
Stakeholders who understand how chromium can and should be used know it is the ideal material for protective coatings. And if they follow best practices for handling chromium and the other substances they use, their processes do not cause any environmental damage.
The Benefits of Chromium Coatings
While chromium is a chemical element in nature, its properties make it seem like it was created specifically for coating metal items! Its many benefits include:
- Increasing the hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance of surfaces
- Increasing scratch resistance
- Simplifying the cleaning of metal items
- Reducing surface friction,
- Increasing the temperature range in which items can be used (–70 °F to 1000 °F or –57 °C to 427 °C)
- Increasing pressure tolerance
- Slowing radiation absorption
And perhaps most importantly, in many instances, chromium can extend the life of underlying materials by anywhere from 2 to 10 times.
The items above are the physical benefits of chromium coatings. There are also business benefits. For example, chromium extends the lifespan of metal items so companies do not have to replace them as often. That saves them money. They also save on maintenance and repair work, which they do not have to perform as often.
In addition, coated items function more smoothly. As a result, companies that use them can produce better work.
Chromium Sales Tell the Story
Another way to assess chromium’s value to stakeholders is to look at how the chromium coatings market continues to grow. By some estimates, it will be $21 billion by 2029.
If chromium coatings did not provide safe and effective protection for metal assets, that number would be much lower.
Go With What You Know
There will always be companies looking for the “next big thing” when it comes to protecting stainless-steel parts, tools, and equipment. And they have every right to roll the dice. But it would take decades of impeccable performance for a material to prove its worth and displace chromium at the top of the coatings ladder.
Until then, companies that prefer not to gamble choose chromium!