A Beginner’s Guide to Electroless Nickel Plating

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The process of nickel plating without electricity involves depositing a nickel alloy coating on parts using chemical reduction. This process plates the metal without the use of the electric current required usually in the electroplating processes.

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Balancing Act

When plating using the electroless nickel plating (ENP) process for engineering, the amount of phosphorous in the mix is important. Generally speaking, anything between 2% to 14% phosphorous is present, with higher concentrations offering greater resistance from corrosion. However, this is a trade-off with the hardness of the plating, with higher phosphorous providing a softer finish.

With the global ENP market looking to grow by about 2.5% to around $233.5 million by 2025, let’s take a closer look at the process.

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ENP Benefits

The benefits of electroless nickel plating include superb corrosion resistance against common rust-causing issues such as salt, carbon dioxide, oxygen and water.

Another great benefit afforded by ENP is the natural uniformity of the finish. During the ENP process, a thin layer of uniform thickness coats the entire substrate, including difficult areas such as holes, slots and even the inside of tubing.

All elements considered, ENP is a cost-effective plating solution for a range of applications, especially on parts which are subject to wear or corrosion. ENP can help to extend the life of parts, working out as a lower-cost replacement for other corrosion-resistant treatments, particularly in cases where the carbon in steel can suffer from corrosion sports or weld corrosion.

Mitigating Factors

In order for ENP to work effectively, there are a number of preparations which must be carried out. Surfaces must be prepared properly, as rough or uneven metal surfaces will not plate effectively.

Oils, soiling or soap residue from cleaning will also cause ENP to fail, so ensuring surfaces are free from any contaminants will help the process to complete successfully. Similarly, ensuring that the plating baths are controlled effectively in terms of the pH balance, concentration and temperature will provide a quality and consistent finish on your parts.

The process of ENP can help to produce parts that are very long-lasting, even in inhospitable environments, with a hard coating that can reach all areas of materials without the use of an electric current. This cost-effective plating technique must, however, be prepared for effectively in order to succeed.

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