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Hydrogen Embrittlement issues?

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  • Hydrogen Embrittlement issues?

    This article was brought up at a message board I frequent, and since they know I do chroming, I was asked an opinion about it. I'll post the relevant portion and include a link to the rest of the article for those interested. What I would like to hear is opinions from Mike, etc. about the accuracy of this article, and is it something that we as chromers should consider adding to our methods on structural items?


    "The first thing that catches the eye about a custom fork is the shiny chrome. Unfortunately, at the last stage of fork manufacture, the plating process could damage an otherwise safe front end, unless more rules are followed. And, just as unfortunate is the fact that following the rules will cost the builder more money.
    During the cleaning process and while the nickel plating is being deposited, the steel will absorb atomic hydrogen. The hydrogen penetrates the steel's molecular structure where it forms hydrides and hydrated ions, causing changes in the molecular volume. The reaction ruptures the surface layers of the steel, accumulating high stresses in the process. Unless the embrittlement is relieved the steel will snap like a dry twig.
    Relieving is accomplished by baking the piece, after plating, usually at about 375 degrees F for about three or more hours. Hydrogen embrittlement is especially destructive in steels with a tensile strength of 160,000 psi and over. So plating is an particularly dangerous process for spring steel and more critical for chromemoly than with mild steel. As I mentioned before, a potentially disastrous situation can arise when a fork is equipped with a single spring."