There are many advantages to using electroless nickel plating as an alternative to hard chrome.
Hard chrome is a common choice where the hardness and wear resistance of a component are important. The hardness of hard chrome is in the region of 800 – 1100 VHN.
The hard chrome deposit, however, is applied electrolytically. Metal coatings applied electrolytically generally create an uneven coating which may need post plating machining. The difference in coating uniformity between electrolytic and and electroless nickel plating is illustrated in the image below, and the same theory can be applied to hard chrome applied eloctrolytically and electroless nickel plating. Another disadvantage to hard chrome is that it tends to soften with heating.
Electroless nickel deposits form a perfectly uniform coating, unlike hard chrome. Although electroless nickel does not give the same level of hardness, the process of heat treatment can be used to harden it. Some electroless nickel deposits can be harder than 1000 VHN, making the hardness of electroless nickel plating comparable to that of hard chrome.