Chromium is used in electroplating for glossy chrome plating, hard and black chromium plating, as a catalyst in the chemical industry but also in steel production. Chromium is one of the most important alloying elements for producing rustproof and heat-resistant steels.

Uvarovite | Chromium bearing garnet

Chromium is one of the most important alloying elements for producing corrosion and heat resistant steels. it is added to steel to make it oil- or air-hardenable. Chromium is a carbide former in alloys. These carbides significantly increase cutting properties, resistance to wear and also high-temperature strength. To achieve corrosion resistance, at least 10,5% chromium must be added to the steel.

Chromium influences the mechanical properties of steel as follows:

Property Influence Degree
Rust resistance Improvement + 3
Hardness Improvement + 2
Strength Improvement + 2
Yield strength Improvement + 2
Elasticity Improvement + 1
Heat resistance Improvement + 1
Carbide formation Improvement + 2
Wear resistance Improvement + 1
Nitratability Improvement + 2
Strain Decrease - 1
Reduction of area Decrease - 1
Notched Impact Strength Decrease - 1
Forgeability Decrease - 1
Scaling Decrease - 3
Machinability no bearing 0


The French chemist and pharmacist Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin discovered the element as early as 1798 and called it chromium because of the many colours of its salts. Traces of the element can also be found in precious stones such as rubies and emeralds.

In the 19th century it was mainly used for colour pigments and in the tannery for leather production. One of the best known pigments is chrome yellow, the identification color of the German Post.

See also

Accompanying Elements

Steel does not only consist of iron and carbon. Other elements can influence the properties of steel.

Read more
Alloying Elements

There is a large number of different alloying elements. Each one influences the material properties.

Read more

Here you can find out why aluminium was discovered so late and how aluminium can be produced.

Read more

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