Apr 15

Choosing Between Electroplating and Electroless Nickel Plating

What is electroplating?

Electroplating is a process that uses an electrical current to dissolve metal so that a metal coating is deposited on an electrode. This process is called electrodeposition. The part that is to be plated is called the cathode and the anode is made of the metal which is to be plated onto the component.

The parts to be plated are then placed in a solution called an electrolyte, which contains metal salts and ions which allow the electricity to flow through it. The power supply then directs the current to the anode, which oxidises the metal atoms that comprise it and allows them to dissolve in the solution.

 

Then, the dissolved metal ions plate onto the cathode from the electrolyte solution. The rate at which the cathode is plated is always equal to the rate that the anode is dissolved.

What is electroplating used for?

Electroplating is used to change the surface properties of an object. For example, electroplating may be used to build up the thickness on a part that is slightly undersized, or to form objects by electroforming.

Electroplating may also be used where abrasion, wear resistance, and corrosion protection are an issue, to increase lubricity and for aesthetic purposes. Unlike electroless nickel plating however, the process of electroplating makes the component subject to changes in the density of the current. This results in variations in the thickness of the electroplated deposit.

What is electroless nickel plating?

Electroless nickel plating is an auto-catalytic reaction which is used to deposit a coating of nickel on a substrate. The metal is deposited when a reducing agent reacts with metal ions. Unlike electroplating, it is not necessary to pass an electric current through the solution to form a deposit.

What are the advantages of electroless nickel plating over electroplating?

Electroless nickel plating has a completely uniform coating. This means that it is a perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items including defense, healthcare, automotive and aerospace.

Electroless nickel can be deposited to produce a wide range of coating thicknesses, with uniformity and minimum variation from point to point. This uniformity can be maintained in plating both large and small parts and on components that are fairly complex, with recessed areas.

Electroplating of such parts, on the other hand, would produce thickness variation and possible voids in the plating when coating holes and inside diameters. Also, with the proper pre-plate catalyst, electroless nickel plating can deposit on non-conductive surfaces.

What is electroless nickel plating used for?

Electroless nickel plating is a plating technique commonly used to prevent corrosion and wear. The electroless nickel plating process is a high quality, cost effective solution to coating metals such as mild steel or stainless steel and can substantially extend the life of a component.

Electroless nickel plating is extremely resistant to corrosion and will therefore extend the life of everything it coats.  This makes it ideal for coating parts exposed to harsh environments such as those operating in the marine, oil and gas and defense industries. Therefore, it can also reduce the cost of repair and replacement parts.

If you would like more information about the process of electroless nickel plating as an alternative to electroplating, visit the NiTEC website, call our team of expert staff on 0845 224 3571, or email info@nitec-enp.co.uk

Mar 25

Electroless Nickel Plating: Perfect for Replacing Stainless Steel

Electroless nickel plating is an excellent alternative to stainless steel. Stainless steel can be very expensive, especially when making large components. Making large parts out of cast iron and then electroless nickel plating them afterwards is a much cheaper and quicker solution.

Stainless steel can be used in environments where corrosion resistance is important and where the levels of hardness of the metal are also important. However, despite its name, stainless steel is not actually fully stain proof.

Unlike ordinary steel, it doesn’t corrode, rust or stain easily with water. But under certain conditions, for example, where there are low levels of oxygen, high levels of salt or poor circulation, stainless steel will stain and in some circumstances will even corrode.

Electroless nickel plate: alternative to stainless steel

Mild steel that has been electroless nickel plated can actually be more effective than stainless steel. With regards to levels of hardness and corrosion resistance, an electroless nickel coating can exceed the benefits offered by stainless steel. Stainless steel is a lot more expensive than mild steel or cast iron that has been electroless nickel plated.

It is far more cost effective to electroless nickel plate parts made of mild steel or cast iron for the ultimate levels of corrosion resistance. Electroless nickel is not only a more cost effective solution, it is also a much more efficient solution to the problems of corrosion, wear and hardness.

As leading specialists in the electroless nickel plating field, we have the facilities to electroless nickel plate large components as an alternative to stainless steel. The equipment and methods used at NiTEC mean that even the most difficult large part can be plated correctly and consistently.

For more information about replacing stainless steel with electroless nickel plating to increase corrosion resistance of the component and keep costs down, visit the NiTEC website, or call our friendly team of staff on 0845 224 3571.

 

 

Dec 10

Electroless Nickel Plating as an Alternative to Stainless Steel

The electroless nickel plating process is a cost effective solution to coating metals such as mild or stainless steel.

And despite the lower price, electroless nickel coatings still maintain a high level of quality.

Advantages of electroless nickel plating

The metal layer deposited by the electroless nickel plating process has an even thickness over all surfaces of the component, virtually regardless of its shape. This uniform coating is the perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items such as those used in the defense  healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries.

 

How corrosion resistant is electroless nickel?

Electroless nickel is perfect for parts that are regularly exposed to harsh environments such as the marine, oil and gas and defense industries. Nickel plating is very resistant to corrosion and will therefore substantially extend the life of a component. Therefore it can reduce the cost of repair and replacement parts.

How hard is electroless nickel?

When electroless nickel plating is used in association with an appropriate heat treatment, it can be hardened up to 950vhn. Electroless nickel plating is therefore ideal in areas where friction and wear are issues.

If you would like to find out more about nickel plating as an alternative to stainless steel, contact NiTEC on (0)845 224 3571, email us at web@nitec-enp.co.uk, or visit our website for more information.