Engineering Partnerships That Outperform

Alternative Coatings

Alternative Coatings For

• Hard Chrome
• Electroless Nickel
• HVOF
• Nitriding

For more info on TriCom

U.S. Chrome’s sister company, USC Technologies, is an industry leading eco-friendly, corrosion and wear resistant electrocoating company providing alternative coatings. USC Technologies developed TriCom, which is a breakthrough family of economical, electrolytic coatings.

TriCom is a novel electroplating technology based on a composite microstructure consisting of a binary or tertiary alloy matrix. TriCom acts as an alternative coating option for hard chrome, HVOF, and electroless nickel and is poised to take over the alternative coatings market with its significant advantages in the field.

Features & Benefits of TriCom

  • Excellent corrosion resistance
  • Improved sliding wear resistance
  • Fully dense & crack free
  • Superior ductility
  • Uniformity & build up thickness ≥ 0.020″
  • Plating to non-line-of-sight geometries
  • Near net shape coating
  • Self-lubricating
  • Plating on all metal surfaces

No hazardous waste stream, reduced energy requirements, reduced CO₂ emissions and free of hexavalent chrome.

alternative coatings from USC Technologies

USC Technologies

We have been helping engineers find solutions to surface coating challenges for over 80 years.

What is TriCom?

To stay ahead of the global push for eco-friendly plating solutions, and while looking to the future, our research and development team set out to invent an environmentally safe, advanced metal finish. The original goal was to create a solution that provided similar benefits to industrial hard chrome, without the hazardous waste, and could replace it in the field. What was created, was the most innovated coating technology that, with minimal effort, can be tailored to fit the protective requirements of the parts and components it would be applied to. Essentially, a new family of coatings, TriCom, that will replace hard chrome, electroless nickel, HVOF, nitride, and many other surface finish technologies.

 

TriCom is based on a composite microstructure that consists of either a binary or tertiary alloy matrix, depending on the application needs. This environmentally benign electrocoating can be engineered for different applications by changing the electrolytic process parameters, bath chemistry, and/or heat treatment. This provides manufacturers with complete control over what protective properties they need. With new environmental regulations continuing to be introduced, more and more manufacturers are learning about the advantages of TriCom and shifting their production to USC Technologies.

TriCom vs. Hard Chrome

Manufacturers have been looking for a competitive alternative to hard chrome for decades. Restrictions on hard chrome, from OSHA (US) and RoHS & REACH (EU), due to its chemical toxins, have made its use complicated. TriCom is a viable alternative to hard chromium plating due to its excellent wear resistance, superior ductility, and ability to achieve a similar hardness through heat treatment.

 

Superior sliding wear characteristics are achieved from the ceramic particles that are dispersed within the alloy matrix. Mating materials “ride” on the hard particles, giving surfaces treated with TriCom up to 5x longer life when compared to hard chrome.

 

In addition, TriCom offers superior oxidation resistance compared to chromium. Chromium begins to soften and lose its oxidation resistance around 400° to 425° C eliminating it as a wear coating when exposed to conditions over this threshold. TriCom exhibits excellent oxidation resistance at sustained temperatures of 650° C (with limited exposures up to 800° C) while retaining its excellent wear resistance.

TriCom vs. Electroless Nickel

Electroless nickel plating offers excellent corrosion resistance, heat mitigation, and coating uniformity. As a result, electroless nickel has been widely used as a surface finish when these characteristics are required. TriCom coatings have these same benefits but provide a substantial improvement in each category.  

 

As a single layer barrier coating, TriCom exceeds the current corrosion protection that electroless nickel offers. The surface coating is fully dense and crack-free which eliminates the possibility of elements reaching the base material to corrode the application. Each coating is applied uniformly, even on complex shapes with slots, holes, and small inner diameters. In addition, TriCom has a lower long-term cost due to the price of materials and reduced plating time.

TriCom vs. HVOF

TriCom coatings are frequently used as a replacement for HVOF coatings. One of the main reasons why TriCom is preferred over HVOF is because of the coatings ability to be applied to non-line-of-sight (NLOS) areas such as the inner diameter of a component. Unlike HVOF, and other thermal spray technologies, TriCom can be coated to near net shape with no distortion of the component during the coating process. It is widely used as an anti-fretting, oxidation resistant wear coating on delicate thin-walled static seals used in gas turbine engines.

What makes TriCom corrosion protection better?

Coated as a single layer barrier, TriCom is fully dense and crack-free. The layer of coating will bend and deflect with the part that it is applied to, therefore reducing the chance of delamination. This results in a significantly reduced chance of corrosion and increased life in the field.

What is the TriCom plating process?

TriCom coatings are applied using an electroplating process which has a deposition rate 4x faster than hard chrome. This results in 1/5 the energy consumption and reduces CO₂ emissions by the same. A rack holds the part that is to be coated and is immersed in an aqueous bath. An electrical current is then applied at the contact points.

 

The process is capable of coating net form shapes including external and internal diameters/surfaces. As with other electroplating processes, TriCom tends to lightly build up on sharp edges and fade in deep corners.

What industries use TriCom?

USC Technologies innovative TriCom coatings and processes have been able to solve several unique issues within the electroplating industry. Our chemical engineering team creates variations of TriCom that are tailored to enhance our client’s needs. While TriCom is used on applications in every industry, the major industries that we work within are Aerospace, Agriculture, Alternative Energy, Hydraulics, and Marine.

What testing has been completed on TriCom?

TriCom has been examined after thousands of tests including pre-qualification testing, Taber wear testing, ASTM G65 abrasive wear testing, ASTM B368 and ASTM B117 salt spray corrosion testing.

 

In ASTM B117 testing, TriCom lasted 2500 hours with zero degradation. In ASTM B368 testing, TriCom lasted 330 hours. Both tests were terminated at these points due to time, not due to any failure.

What are the environmental impacts of TriCom?

When compared to other popular hard surface coatings, TriCom reduces CO₂ emissions, reduces energy demand, and creates zero hazardous waste streams.

Where is TriCom Plating Offered?

U.S. Chrome’s sister company, USC Technologies, offers TriCom plating services at their Connecticut and Wisconsin locations. Each location is strategically located for fast and efficient delivery to anywhere in the United States and across the globe.

We're ready to work with you.

We’re confident US Chrome will be your best option for your plating applications because of our engineering approach, exceptional customer service, and regional locations. Contact us now with your questions or coating challenges.
We’ll help you find the right answer.