The Effects of Cadmium Plating 304 Stainless Steel

by James Croxon; Updated September 26, 2017

Electroplated cadmium is a corrosion resistant cyanide coating, according to the Chem Processing Inc. Plating 304 stainless steel with cadmium gives the steel a number of advantages over uncoated stainless steel. These benefits include added corrosion resistance, malleability and non-reaction to aluminum. These attributes make it an attractive material for the aerospace industry but environmental concerns over the material's toxicity make it less sought- after than other coatings.

Corrosion Resistance

According to the "Engineer's Companion," cadmium is widely used in the aerospace industry for its corrosion resistance. Even though stainless steel has an inherent resistance to corrosion, cadmium increases the resistance making it ideal for aerospace parts that may be hard to monitor for corrosion. Cadmium plating also increases the corrosion resistance of stainless steel in salt environments, such as coastal areas.

Production Benefits

Cadmium is a good choice for aircraft production, due to its increased solder-ability, low reactivity to aluminum and low coefficient of fiction. This means that soldering cadmium-plated stainless steel parts to aluminum parts, one of the most common materials in the industry, is relatively easy and inexpensive. Additionally, the fact that it has a low reactivity to aluminum and a low coefficient of friction means routine inspections and removal of the parts produce very little wear. The parts resist corroding in the presence of aluminum.

Toxicity Concerns

The primary concern with coating stainless steels such as the 300 series, with cadmium, is the toxicity of the metals. According to, cadmium is a known carcinogen and the cyanide coating process creates additional health concerns even in small amounts. Because of this cadmium coating of stainless steel is largely limited to the aerospace industry, despite it having potential performance advantages in other industries.

About the Author

Writer, photographer and world traveler James Croxon is a jack of all trades. He began writing in 1998 for the University of Michigan's "The Michigan Times." His work has appeared in the "Toronto Sun" and on and Croxon has a bachelor's degree in English from the American Military University.

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