Introduction

Electrodeposits of cadmium are used to protect steel and cast iron against corrosion. Because cadmium is anodic to iron, the underlying ferrous metal is protected at the expense of the cadmium plate even if the cadmium becomes scratched or nicked, exposing the substrate.

Cadmium is usually applied as a thin coating (less than 25 ^m or 1000 ^in. thick) intended to withstand atmospheric corrosion. It is seldom used as an undercoating for other metals, and its resistance to corrosion by most chemicals is low.

Besides having excellent corrosion protective properties, cadmium has many useful engineering properties, including natural lubricity. When corrosion products are formed on cadmium-electroplated parts, they are not voluminous, and there is minimal change in dimension. These two properties are responsible for the wide use of cadmium on moving parts or threaded assemblies.

Cadmium has excellent electrical conductivity and low contact resistance. Noncorrosive fluxes can be used to produce top-quality soldered sections. Steel that is coated with cadmium can be formed and shaped because of the ductility of the cadmium. Malleable iron, cast iron, powdered metals, and other hard-to-plate surfaces can be coated with cadmium, and materials used for adhesives bond very well to cadmium-coated surfaces.

Cadmium is highly toxic, and health, safety, and environmental concerns are driving the reduction or elimination of its use for many applications. See the section "Toxicity of Cadmium" in this article and the article "Cadmium Elimination" in this Volume for more information.

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