Chrome lightsabers feature a chrome finish, or chrome-like finish, in order to create a shiny, reflective and glossy appearance. Often applied to an aluminum hilt, the bright and vibrant finish gives a lightsaber hilt a high-end, premium vibe like a hot rod.
The eye-catching attractiveness of the shiny finish makes chrome a favorable finish for certain hero or idealized versions of a lightsaber hilt. Additionally, a black chrome finish variation provides a dark, smooth, smoky alternative.
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Nickel Plated and Nickel-Chrome Plated Lightsabers
Lightsaber hilts with a chrome-like appearance are typically nickel plated or nickel-chrome plated. The two finishes are extremely similar in appearance. A nickel plated finish has a slight yellowish tint while a nickel-chrome finish has a slight bluish tint.
Both finishes entail the process of nickel-plating the hilt first. The nickel-chrome finish then plates a thin layer of chrome on top of the hilt’s nickel plated underlay (the chrome layer adds the blue tint). The smooth and shiny nickel plated or nickel-chrome plated surface is scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean.
Drawbacks of Chrome Lightsabers
Shiny finishes easily show fingerprints, smudges, and water spots. Although some some lightsaber enthusiasts covet the shiny, ‘hot rod’ vibe of a chrome finish lightsaber, others prefer a subtler, grittier or raw finish.
Avoid low quality chromed items. A poorly applied nickel plated or chrome plated finish can ultimately deface the crisp, clean, and otherwise uniform appearance of a chromed lightsaber hilt. If the chrome blisters or peels, for example, this is usually due to poor adhesion of the chrome to the base surface. Common causes of a poorly applied finish are: improper technique and poor base surface quality/cleanliness prior to plating.
PVC Lightsabers and Chrome Stickers
Sometimes PVC lightsaber hilts use chrome car detailing stickers in order to make the plastic hilt, or parts of the the plastic hilt, look metal.
LEGO Chrome Silver Lightsaber Hilts (Non-Metal)
LEGO used to manufacture a lightsaber hilt, sized for LEGO minifigures, with a chrome silver exterior (non-metal). The decorative chrome silver color coats the plastic lightsaber hilt. LEGO stopped manufacturing chrome silver lightsaber hilts around 2007, likely in order to cut costs and possibly due to the chrome layer flaking off the lightsaber hilt over time. The company replaced the chrome silver hilts with a non-flaking metallic silver colored hilt.