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A Thintri MARKET STUDY: 2013:
Markets in Wear Coatings: Hard Chrome and its Alternatives

Thintri Inc. announces the release of Markets in Wear Coatings: Hard Chrome and its Alternatives, 2013, a new update of its study on hard chrome in wear coatings and chrome replacement. This comprehensive examination of the subject discusses the various technologies, the industries in which they will, and won’t, be used, and forecasts to 2020.

The Chrome Plating Industry

  • Health and environmental issues
  • Effects of pollution control laws
  • The industry today
  • Economic factors
  • Drawbacks in hard chrome

Chrome plating Market Analysis

  • Aerospace
  • Oil & gas
  • Hydraulics & heavy machinery
  • General industry
  • Today’s economy
  • Geographic segmentation

Chrome Plating Alternatives

  • Trivalent chrome Plasma spray
  • High velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF)
  • Twin wire arc spray
  • Electro-spark deposition
  • Electroless nickel plating
  • Electroless nickel boron plating
  • Electroless nickel composite plating
  • Electrodeposited nanocrystalline cobalt-phosphorus coatings
  • Nickel-cobalt alloy coatings
  • Plated tin alloys
  • Explosive bonding
  • Laser cladding
  • Physical vapor deposition (PVD)
  • Intensified plasma-assisted processing

Market Demand

2013 to 2020 forecasts

  • Aerospace
    • Actuator hydraulics
    • Landing gear
    • Gas turbines
    • Other Components
  • General industrial
    • Automotive
    • Agriculture
    • Pulp & paper
    • Transportation & roads
    • Mining
    • Heavy equipment
    • Oil & gas
    • Stamping and molding

Background on Wear Coatings

Used as a fundamental coating in a wide range of industries—aerospace, heavy equipment, automotive and others — hard chrome plating has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Regulations designed to protect against the health and environmental hazards of hexavalent chrome have increased the cost of chrome plating and burdened facilities performing plating services with extensive regulation and paperwork. At the same time, hard chrome’s intrinsic performance limitations have proven troublesome in wear applications where requirements are consistently more demanding. 

A number of alternatives to hard chrome are available. Chrome substitutes are dominated by thermal spray, in particular high-velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF), often favored due to its high strength and wear resistance, relatively low cost, and fast turnaround time. However, other new processes are emerging and capturing chrome and HVOF markets as well. These include electroless nickel composite plating, which can deposit highly uniform diamond-composite coatings which are not restricted to line-of-sight geometries, as is HVOF. Other emerging techniques include explosive bonding, which can be used to fabricate stainless-steel or titanium coatings, and electrodeposited nanocrystalline cobalt-phosphorus alloys specifically targeted at inner diameters. Plasma vapor deposition (PVD) can make thin, high quality coatings for less cost, in many cases, than even decorative chrome.

At one time many predicted a near abandonment of chrome plating to one or more of these new technologies but this has not happened. Indeed, in some markets, the adoption of thermal spray as an alternative to hard chrome has slowed. One reason is that some sectors, like aerospace, are almost fully converted to alternatives already. Another is that the initial enthusiasm for thermal spray as a chrome alternative has waned as its own limitations become more widely known. For that reason, while HVOF markets are still growing, many users are investigating other alternatives, including newer thermal spray processes as well as plating and vapor deposition.

The market picture is mixed and wildly uncertain. For both chrome and its substitutes, coating demand in the oil and gas sector is booming, thanks to new oilfield development techniques like fracking and horizontal drilling, while forestry and pulp & paper continue a precipitous, long term decline.     

And while industry downsizing and consolidation resulting from health and environmental legislation has led to the closure or offshore relocation of as many as half of the chrome plating shops in North America, the chrome plating market today is fairly stable. Most existing chrome plating shops, having accommodated new regulations, are now thriving and profitable. And many traditional customers have little or no interest in giving up on chrome.

Suppliers of alternative coating technologies are facing highly segmented markets where some chrome plating users resistant making large capital investments in new coating technologies, while others have eagerly embraced alternatives. Yet all face highly uncertain markets in the current economic climate, buffeted by wild swings in the cost of raw materials and lingering effects of the sluggish economy.

Understand the Markets

Success in wear coating markets will depend almost completely on a balance of cost and performance that will be highly application-specific. Many, if not most, chrome substitutes like thermal spray will require higher up-front costs, usually in the form of equipment purchases. However, longer lifetimes and reduced frequency of repairs can lead to significant long-term savings, not to mention the benefits of improved performance. Other alternatives offer a crossover benefit that depends on the scale of implementation or other factors. For example, PVD is more expensive than chrome for small lots but can be significantly less expensive in large-scale production. Most alternatives also offer a large advantage in reduced hazardous waste management costs compared to hexavalent chrome.

Thintri’s study Markets in Wear Coatings: Hard Chrome and its Alternatives examines each of the leading alternative technologies in detail: its capabilities, limitations and most promising applications. The report also explores their potential in major market segments and forecasts markets to 2020.


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Report Table of Contents:

Executive Summary   1

E.1 Introduction   1
E.2 Hard Chrome Wear Coatings   1
      E.2.1 Health & Environmental Hazards, Legislation   1
      E.2.2 The Hard Chrome Industry Today   2
      E.2.3 Hard Chrome Markets   2
      E.2.4 The Need for Chrome Alternatives in Wear Coatings   5
E.3 Primary Chrome Alternatives 6
      E.3.1 Thermal Spray   6
          E.3.1.1 HVOF   6
          E.3.1.2 Plasma Spray   7
          E.3.1.3 Twin Wire Arc Spray   7
      E.3.2 Thermal Spray Consumables   8
      E.3.3 Plated and PVD Alternatives to Chrome   8
          E.3.3.1 Trivalent Chrome   8
          E.3.3.2 Electroless Nickel and its Variations   9
          E.3.3.3 Nanocrystallline Alternatives   11
          E.3.3.4 Physical Vapor Deposition   11
      E.3.5 Electrospark Deposition   11
      E.3.6 Explosive Bonding   12
E.4 The Market Outlook for Alternatives   12

Chapter 1: Introduction   17

Chapter 2: The Hard Chrome Plating Industry   19

2.1 Chromium   19
2.2 Chrome Plating   20
2.3 Health and Environmental Effects   22
2.4 Effects of Pollution Control Legislation   23
      2.4.1 OSHA's PELs   23
      2.4.2 EPA Rules   25
      2.4.3 Europe   27
2.5 The Industry Today   28

Chapter 3: Hard Chrome Markets and Market Drivers   32

3.1 Overview: Chrome's Dominance in Wear Coatings   32
3.2 Today's Hard Chrome Plating Markets   33
       3.2.1 Aerospace Markets for Hard Chrome Plating   37
       3.2.2 Aircraft Actuator Hydraulics   38
       3.2.3 Landing Gear   39
       3.2.4 Gas Turbines   39
       3.2.5 Other Aircraft Components   41
       3.2.6 Oil Field, Heavy Equipment, and General Industrial Markets for Hard Chrome   42
3.3 Drawbacks in Using Hard Chrome   43
3.4 Hard Chrome Market Conditions Today   45
3.5 Hard Chrome Market Forecasts   46
       3.5.1 Introduction   46
       3.5.2 Aerospace   46
       3.5.3 Industry   47
           3.5.3.1 Oil & Gas   47
           3.5.3.2 Hydraulics & Heavy Machinery   48
           3.5.3.3 Other General Industry   51

Chapter 4: Alternative Technologies to Hexavalent Chrome Plating   54

4.2 Thermal Spray   54
       4.2.1 Thermal Spray Technologies Today   54
       4.2.2 High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF)   55
             4.2.2.1 D-Gun   56
             4.2.2.2 HVAF   56
        4.2.2.3 HVOF vs. Chrome   57
        4.2.3 Plasma Spray   59
        4.2.4 Twin Wire Arc Spray   61
        4.2.5 Powders   62
        4.2.6 Stripping and Grinding Issues   63
        4.2.7 Health & Environmental Issues in Thermal Spray   65
4.3 Plating Alternatives to Conventional Hard Chrome   65
        4.3.1 Trivalent Chrome   65
        4.3.2 Electroless Nickel Plating   69
            4.3.2.1 Electroless Nickel Boron   71
            4.3.2.2 Electroless Nickel Composite Plating   72
        4.3.3 Electrodeposited Nanocrystalline Coatings   75
        4.3.4 Plated Tin Alloys   79
4.4 Electrospark Deposition   80
4.5 Explosive Bonding   82
4.6 Laser Cladding   84
4.7 Vacuum Techniques   84
        4.7.1 PVD   84
        4.7.2 Intensified Plasma-Assisted Processing   86
4.8 Line of Sight, Inner Diameter Issues   87

Chapter 5: Markets for Chrome Alternatives   89

5.1 Target Hard Chrome Markets, Penetration by Alternatives 89
5.2 Markets and Forecasts for Non-Chrome Plated and Vapor Deposition Solutions   91
5.3 Industrial Demand and Market Forecasts, Thermal Spray   92
        5.3.1 Background: Industrial Thermal Spray in Today's Economy   93
        5.3.2 Oil Field Applications   96
        5.3.3 Hydraulics and Heavy Equipment   98
        5.3.4 Other General Industry   102
5.4 Aerospace Demand and Forecasts   106
        5.4.1 Commercial vs. Defense Demand   108
        5.4.2 Opportunities in Overhaul and Repair vs. Manufacture   110
        5.4.3 Landing Gear   112         5.4.4 Aircraft Hydraulics 116
        5.4.5 Gas Turbines   117
            5.4.5.1 Aircraft Gas Turbines   118
            5.4.5.2 IGTs   119
        5.4.6 Other Aerospace Applications   121
5.5 Thermal Spray Supplier Markets and Forecasts   123
        5.5.1 Wear Coatings Markets   123
        5.5.2 Markets for Services   125
        5.5.3 Cost Issues   126
        5.5.4 Geographic Segmentation   129
        5.5.5 Powder Providers and Markets   132
        5.5.6 Equipment Providers and Markets   135
        5.5.7 HVOF vs. Plasma vs. Wire Arc   139

Tables and Figures

Table 2-1 Domestic Sodium Dichromate & Chromic Acid Production, US   20
Table 2-2 Typical Process Parameters for Chrome Plating, Conventional Bath   21
Table 2-3 Symptoms of Hexavalent Chromium Exposure Among Chrome Plating and
    Chromium Chemical Workers   22
Figure 2-1 Sources of Hexavalent Chromium Emissions, 2005   27
Figure 3-1 Worldwide Chrome Plating Demand, Hard vs. Decorative, 2013   33
Figure 3-2 Geographic Distribution, Hard Chrome Production, 2013    36
Figure 3-3 Geographic Distribution, Hard Chrome Production, 2020    36
Figure 3-4 Global Hard Chrome Market Breakdown, 2013   37
Figure 3-5 Aerospace Chrome Plating Market Segments, 2013   37
Figure 3-6 Aerospace Hard Chrome Markets, Commercial vs. Defense, 2013   38
Figure 3-7 Hard Chrome Demand Segmentation in Gas Turbines, Aerospace vs. IGT, 2013   40
Table 3-1 Industrial Hard Chrome Applications  42
Figure 3-8 Overall Hard Chrome Market Forecast   46
Figure 3-9 Aerospace Hard Chrome Markets Forecast   47
Figure 3-10 Hard Chrome Market Forecast, Oil & Gas   48
Figure 3-11 Overall Hydraulics & Heavy Equipment Hard Chrome Market Forecast   49
Figure 3-12 Hydraulics Markets: Mining & Earth Moving vs. Forestry & Logging   49
Figure 3-13 Market Forecasts: Agriculture, Waste & Recycling   50
Figure 3-14 Market Forecasts: Construction, Concrete & Asphalt   50
Figure 3-15 Market Forecasts: Defense & Government, Freight Transport   51
Figure 3-16 Hard Chrome Market Forecast: Overall General Industry   52
Figure 3-17 Forecasts: General Industry by Market Segment   52
Table 5-1 Realistic Hard Chrome Target Markets, Global   90
Figure 5-1 Overall Market Forecast, Plated and PVD Alternatives   92
Figure 5-2 Market Forecasts for Plated and PVD Alternatives by Segment   92
Figure 5-3 Thermal Spray Equipment vs. Consumables Market, 2013   96
Figure 5-4 Thermal Spray Powder Market Forecast, Oil and Gas Sector   98
Figure 5-5 Thermal Spray Services Market Forecast, Oil and Gas Sector   98
Figure 5-6 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Mining & Earth Moving, Forestry & Logging   100
Figure 5-7 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Agriculture, Waste & Recycling   100
Figure 5-8 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Construction, Concrete & Asphalt   101
Figure 5-9 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Defense& Government, Freight Transport   101
Figure 5-10 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Overall Hydraulics and Heavy Equipment   102
Figure 5-11 Forecast, Thermal Spray Services, Overall Hydraulics and Heavy Equipment   102
Figure 5-12 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, General Industry by Segment   105
Figure 5-13 Forecast, Thermal Spray Powder, Overall General Industry   105
Figure 5-14 Forecast, Thermal Spray Services, Overall General Industry   106
Figure 5-15 Defense vs. Commercial Aerospace Demand, Thermal Spray Powder,
    Wear Coatings, 2013   109
Figure 5-16 Defense vs. Commercial Aerospace Demand, Thermal Spray Services,
    Wear Coatings, 2013   110
Figure 5-17 Aerospace Thermal Spray Powder Demand, Manufacture vs. Repair   111
Figure 5-18 Aerospace Overhaul & Repair, Thermal Spray Outsource vs. In-House, 2013    112
Figure 5-19 Thermal Spray Powder Demand Forecast, Landing Gear   116
Figure 5-20 Thermal Spray Powder Demand Forecast, Aircraft Hydraulics   117
Figure 5-21 Thermal Spray Powder Demand Forecast, Aircraft Gas Turbines   119
Figure 5-22 Thermal Spray Powder Demand Forecast, IGTs   121
Figure 5-23 Thermal Spray Powder Demand Forecast, Other Aerospace   122
Figure 5-24 Thermal Spray Services Forecast, Overall Aerospace   122
Figure 5-25 Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coatings Consumables Market Forecast   124
Figure 5-26 Overall Market Forecast, Thermal Spray Services   125
Table 5-2 Time Study Results, HVOF vs. Chrome Plating on a Landing Gear Piston:   127
Figure 5-27 Geographic Segmentation Forecast, Thermal Spray Powders, Wear Coatings   130
Figure 5-28 Geographic Segmentation Forecast, Thermal Spray Equipment, Wear Coatings   130
Figure 5-29 Thermal Spray Powder Market Segments by Coating Type, 2013   133
Figure 5-30 Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coating Powder Market Forecast   133
Figure 5-31 Market Share, Carbide Powder Producers, 2013   135
Figure 5-32 Overall Thermal Spray Wear Coating Equipment Market Forecast   136
Figure 5-33 Market Share, Thermal Spray Equipment Producers, 2013   136
Figure 5-34 Market Share, Plasma Spray Equipment Producers, 2013   137
Figure 5-35 Market Share, HVOF Equipment Producers, 2013   137
Figure 5-36 Market Share, Wire Arc Equipment Producers, 2013   138
Figure 5-37 Thermal Spray Segmentation and Forecast, Consumables   139
Figure 5-38 Thermal Spray Segmentation and Forecast, Equipment   140  



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