Chrome and stainless steel may look the same to the untrained eye, but there are significant differences between the two materials.
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Here’s a run-down of some distinguishing factors.
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel and chromium. (An alloy is a mix of at least two kinds of metal.) By regulation, stainless steel must have at least 10.5 percent chromium content (by mass). Chromium is not a solid metal. Rather, it is a base metal (or base plastic) that is plated with a layer of chromium.
Stainless steel is preferable to steel in many applications because it resists corrosion better. It is also more durable than chrome and more resistant to scratches and dings.
Stainless steel is used for cookware and cutlery. It is also used in the auto industry for exhaust systems, trims, and grills. It is favored in the architectural sector because it is easily welded and low-maintenance. Stainless steel is used for exterior cladding and inside elements such as handrails. Chrome is used on car parts, tools, and kitchen utensils, to name a few applications.
Chrome is shinier than stainless steel, so it is often used to add aesthetic value to items. (Picture chromium plating on a motorcycle.) Stainless steel is duller, but easier to clean—though it’s not totally stainless as its name suggests. Chrome is prone to show watermarks and splashes.
Chromium plating weighs less than solid stainless steel.
Stainless steel is more expensive than chrome. Both are popular materials. The choice to use one over the other depends on budget and intended use.
For more information on chrome or gold plating, including automotive gold plating, visit us at GoldPlating.com.