Nickel plating is the process of depositing a thin layer of nickel onto another substrate, such as metal or plastic. The two primary purposes for nickel coating are to provide additional material protection from corrosion and wear, as well as to endow the substrate being plated with advantageous characteristics of nickel. In addition to having multiple purposes, there are multiple methods by which nickel can be plated. One way is by electroplating, and the other way is by electroless plating.
Quick links to Nickel Plating Information
Applications of Nickel Plating
Nickel coating is commonly used in these applications and industries:
- Food Processing
- For plating of such items as kitchen utensils and cookware.
- Industrial Manufacturing
- In which plating is performed to protect facility equipment and supplies, such as storage tanks, from corrosion.
- For the plating of household appliances and fixtures, such as bathroom door knobs.
- Used to plate essential components, such as oilfield valves and fuel rails.
- For plating of power transmission parts, such as drive shafts.
Methods of Nickel Plating
The two previously mentioned methods of nickel plating differ in several ways. However, there is one vital distinction being that electroless accomplishes nickel deposition without the use of an electrical current, which is something that is required by the electrolytic nickel plating method. Nickel is the most common material used in electroless plating processes, and there are a variety of ways in which nickel can be electroless plated.
For instance, there are two main nickel alloys that are used in electroless nickel plating processes: nickel-phosphorus and nickel-boron. In addition, there are three main types of nickel-phosphorus: low phosphorus, medium phosphorus, and high phosphorus. Some characteristics of low phosphorus electroless nickel are uniform thickness and high corrosion resistance, particularly in alkaline environments.
Medium phosphorus electroless nickel, conversely, has the characteristics of high stability and the ability to be offered in various degrees of brightness, including very bright and semi-bright. Lastly, high phosphorus electroless nickel features the beneficial characteristics of low porosity, high stain resistance, and extremely high corrosion resistance. Also, there are two main ways in which nickel can be electroless plated: barrel plating or rack plating. In barrel plating, numerous small pieces are plated at once, while rack plating is used for large, fragile, or complex parts.
Nickel Plating Standards
Specific standards that certain types of nickel plating must adhere to are set by organizations, such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the Aerospace Material Specification (AMS).