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Zinc Plating vs Cadmium Plating – What’s the Difference

Zinc Plating vs Cadmium Plating

When it comes to protecting metal components from corrosion, two popular methods are zinc plating and cadmium plating. Both offer a protective barrier, but there are distinct differences between the two that should be taken into consideration when selecting the right coating for a project. To help you make an informed decision, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of zinc plating vs cadmium plating.

Difference Between Zinc Plating and Cadmium Plating

Benefits of Zinc Plating

Zinc is often used as a sacrificial coating because it corrodes more quickly than many other materials. It forms a thin layer on the surface of the metal, protecting it from rusting or degrading due to exposure to water or air. Additionally, zinc plating is affordable and can be applied in multiple thicknesses depending on your needs. The process is also relatively simple, making it an easy choice for DIY projects or small-scale production runs.

Drawbacks of Zinc Plating

One drawback to zinc plating is that its protective capabilities are limited by its own corrosive nature; once the zinc has been corroded away, the underlying metal will not be protected any longer. Additionally, if exposed to certain chemicals like lye or ammonia, zinc can become brittle and crack over time. Finally, due to its weaker bond with steel relative to other types of plated metals, such as cadmium, zinc will wear away faster than some other coatings under certain conditions.

Benefits of Cadmium Plating

Cadmium offers superior protection against corrosion compared to zinc since it creates a harder coating on metal surfaces that won’t break down as quickly as zinc does when exposed to water or air. It also has a higher melting point than zinc, so it can withstand high temperatures better than many other coating materials. Finally, since cadmium forms an extremely strong bond with steel surfaces, it isn’t easily removed during machining processes like grinding and sandblasting, making it ideal for use in parts that need additional protection against wear and tear.

Drawbacks of Cadmium Plating

The primary downside to cadmium plating is its cost; due to its superior protective properties and durability compared to other coatings such as zinc, cadmium costs significantly more per square foot than other options available on the market today. Additionally, due to its toxicity levels when inhaled or ingested in large doses (which can occur if proper safety protocols aren’t followed during application), some jurisdictions may have regulations prohibiting its use in certain applications where workers may be exposed directly or indirectly through contact with finished products containing cadmium-plated components.

  • Zinc plating is less expensive than cadmium plating.
  • Zinc plating is more durable than cadmium plating.
  • Zinc plating is more resistant to corrosion than cadmium plating.
  • Cadmium plating is more toxic than zinc plating.
  • Cadmium plating is more difficult to apply than zinc plating.
  • Zinc plating provides better protection against wear and tear than cadmium plating.


When choosing between zinc plating vs cadmium plating for your project’s needs, there are several factors that should be taken into account, including cost-effectiveness versus performance requirements as well as local regulations regarding toxic substances such as cadmium which may limit its use in certain applications where workers may come into contact with finished products containing these components. By understanding both the benefits and drawbacks associated with each type of material before you begin your project, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which material best fits your specific needs and budget constraints without sacrificing performance quality or safety standards for yourself or those around you who could come into contact with these materials over time.

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