Apr 25

Nickel Plated Benches for Thomas Heatherwick

NiTEC have recently had the pleasure of nickel plating a number of benches for the English designer Thomas Heatherwick.

Known for his innovative designs and creative use of engineering and materials to produce public monuments and sculptures, Heatherwick was asked to design the Olympic Cauldron used at the London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies.

Famed for his adventurous and original use of manufacturing processes and materials across the disciplines of architecture, art and design, Thomas Heatherwick is also renowned for his innovative ideas at the forefront of manufacturing and design practice.

Thomas Heatherwick’s extruded benches began life in Heatherwick’s design and architecture studio when working on a project that involved manufacturing aluminium components through an industrial process called extrusion.

What is extrusion?

The process of extrusion involves squeezing heated metal through a shaped hole which is known as die. The heated metal produces straight aluminium lengths in this way, with a precisely shaped cross section.

However, extrusion is liable to produce very contorted shapes when the metal initially squeezes through the die. This is because the metal becomes snagged and warped as it struggles to fit. The form eventually straightens out and usually during this process; the contorted end is chopped off and melted back down.

However, Thomas Heatherwick considered the mutated sections to be more interesting by far than the straight parts, and set out to produce more warped lengths of extruded aluminium on a much larger scale.

The designer then wondered if it would be possible to use the extrusion process to create seating, much of which was needed at the time to furnish new airports and stations being built around the world. Heatherwick saw it as a simple but effective alternative to ordinary furniture that had to made up of several components and materials. These extruded seats could be made all in one go, with the legs and back of the seat formed all at once.

The Heatherwick studio hunted for a machine capable of making this dream a reality for more than 16 years, until they finally came across a new extrusion machine that had been built in the Far East. The machine was designed for use in the aerospace industry and had the capability of exerting ten thousand tonnes of pressure. The factory it came from could not actually guarantee the outcome of the experiment because the machine had never been used to its full capacity.

Nickel plating aluminium benches

Using this specialised die, Heatherwick and his studio staff made a series of aluminium benches with straight, extruded lengths, and contrasting raw, contorted ends. The sweeping parallel lines created through the extrusion process are contorted into random, gnarled endings and the arbitrary swirling forms of the bench are created through the initiation and termination of the extrusion process. NiTEC were asked to nickel plate the benches to provide a high quality surface that would be very resistant to wear. To view these benches, please click here to visit the Heatherwick studio website.

Heatherwick’s projects take the design process to its broadest reaches, from entire buildings to handbags, bridges to furniture, and always involve a radical approach to manufacturing processes and use of materials. Heatherwick is now working on more commercial products using this process to create components for architectural construction, facade design and mass produced seating ranges.

To find out more about our involvement in special projects, or to find out more about electroless nickel plating, please visit the NiTEC website, call our friendly team of staff on 0845 224 3571 email: info@nitec-enp.co.uk

Apr 11

7 Great Reasons to Choose Electroless Nickel Plating

Here at NiTEC, we know that no other metal coating has the fantastic combination of properties offered by electroless nickel. Here are 7 great reasons to choose electroless nickel plating!


1. Corrosion resistance and corrosion protection

One of the most common reasons for the use of electroless nickel coatings in functional applications is its excellent corrosion resistance. In the very corrosive conditions encountered in drilling and producing oil wells, for example, electroless nickel has the ability to withstand the combination of corrosive chemicals and abrasion.

2. Wear resistance

With the appropriate heat treatment, electroless nickel plating can be hardened up to 950vhn. This makes it ideal for areas exposed to friction and wear.

3. Hardness

A great feature of electroless nickel plating is its hardness. Hardness values for electroless nickel deposits are in the range of 450-750 VHN, depending on the phosphorous content of the deposit.

4. Lubricity

Electroless nickel plating has natural self lubricating properties, which eliminates the need for liquid lubricants on components.

5. Solderability and bondability

Electroless nickel-phosphorus alloys are easily soldered with a highly active acid flux.

6. Uniformity of deposit regardless of geometries

Electroless nickel plating has a completely uniform coating. It’s a perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items including defence, 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.

7. Nonmagnetic properties of high-phosphorus nickel alloy

Electroless nickel deposits containing greater than 8 percent phosphorus are considered to be essentially nonmagnetic as plated.

For more information about electroless nickel plating and more great reasons to choose nickel as your plating material, visit the NiTEC websitebecome a fan of our Facebook page, or why not follow us on Twitter?

Apr 04

Advantages of a High Phosphorous Electroless Nickel Alloy

An electroless nickel coating is a dense alloy of nickel and phosphorus. The amount of phosphorus co-deposited can range from less than 2% to more than 12%, depending upon bath formulation, operating pH and bath age.

High phosphorous electroless nickel plating tanksAn electroless nickel coating with a high phosphorous content is extremely effective in the oil, gas and coal industry. These environments are highly corrosive and therefore require a phosphorous content of more than 10%.

Phosphorous content in electroless nickel deposits can vary from 1 – >12% by weight and the variation can be controlled to result in a number of deposit types.

High Phosphorus Deposits

  • Typically contain 10-12% phosphorus
  • Very high corrosion resistance
  • Complete lack of magnetic response.
  • Most conditions in the highly corrosive oil, gas and coal industry require deposits with a high phosphorus content (>10%).

Low Phosphorus Deposits

  • Typically contain 2-5% phosphorus.
  • Improved hardness and wear characteristics
  •  Higher temperature resistance
  •  Increased corrosion resistance in alkaline environments.
  • Best suited to the chloro-alkali industry, such as the transportation of liquid soda.
  • Enhanced solderability and bondability, especially in electronic applications.

Mid Phosphorus Deposits

  • Typically contain 6-9% phosphorus
  • Bright and aesthetically pleasing
  • Good hardness and wear resistance
  • Moderate corrosion resistance

Alkaline nickel-phosphorus

  • Plate at a relatively low temperatures (75-140°F, 24-60°C)
  • Suitable for plating on plastics and other nonconductive materials
  • Suitable for use on zincated aluminum.

If you would like to find out more about electroless nickel plating with high phosphorus nickel deposits for use in the oil, gas and coal industry, please visit the NiTEC website.

Mar 27

Eliminate Post-Plate Grinding with Electroless Nickel Plating

An electroless nickel coating can eliminate the need for post-plate grinding because of its ability to deposit a reliable, uniform coating.

The metal layer deposited by the electroless nickel plating process has an even thickness over all surfaces of the component, virtually regardless of their shape. As the components are not deformed by the plating process, the uniformity of the coating obtained by the nickel plating makes the process ideal for engineering components. Therefore, 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.

The deposition of a uniform electroless nickel coating save time, effort, and money because no processing of the part is needed after plating. Therefore, tight manufacturing tolerances can be achieved with an electroless nickel coating as it is deposited evenly on the surface of the part.

The uniform coating of the nickel plating means that the surface is very hard wearing, resistant to corrosion and durable in a variety of environments.

 

The deposition process of electroless nickel is autocatalytic, meaning that once a primary layer of nickel has formed on the substrate, that layer and each subsequent layer becomes the catalyst that causes the above reaction to continue. Thus, very thick coatings can be applied, provided that the ingredients in the plating bath are replenished.

NiTEC are also specialists in diffused nickel plating technology, the copper plating process and the process of shotblasting & heat treatment. For more information about nickel plating services in the UK, take a look at our website, or call us on 0845 224 3571.

 

Jan 14

The Uniform Coating of Electroless Nickel

There are many advantages to using an electroless nickel coating. As specialists in the process of electroless nickel plating, NiTEC are often asked about the uniformity of coating that electroless nickel can provide.

The uniformity of an electroless nickel coating makes it perfect for use on engineering components, as a component’s machined tolerances are not deformed by the process.

The coating deposited by the process of electroless nickel plating is based on a chemical reaction. Therefore, the nickel collects in equal thickness over the component, whatever its shape and size.

The uniform coating of the nickel plating means that the surface is very hard wearing, resistant to corrosion and durable in a variety of environments, making it a suitable choice for engineering components.

 

If you would like more information about the process of nickel plating, or would like to find out how the process could benefit your business, contact the team at Nitec today on (0)845 224 3571 or visit our website for more information.

Jan 09

Increase the Lifespan of Steam Turbines with Electroless Nickel Plating

Based in Derbyshire, Nitec have a wealth of experience electroless nickel plating for large multinational companies and a wide variety of industries.

As a leading provider of worldwide metal plating services, Nitec have recently worked with Elliott Turbo-Steam Turbines. Elliot steam turbines are specially built to be able to perform for years, and they have an excellent reputation as being the best in the industry.

Elliot steam turbines are very reliable and hard wearing, and by adding an electroless nickel coating, their life span can be further increased. As the addition of an electroless nickel coating is very hard, it can reduce the wear of the part when friction is an issue.

Elliot steam turbines are used in power generation and food processing,  chemical and petrochemical, pulp and paper, and the oil and gas industry.

For more information on how electroless nickel coatings can be used to increase the lifespan of components and reduce wear through friction, contact Nitec by visiting our website, or speaking to a member of our specialist team on 0845 224 357.

Jan 09

Electroless Nickel Plating for Rutherford Appleton Laboratories

Rutherford Appleton Laboratories approached Nitec with the prospect of nickel plating a laboratory vacuum chamber. As specialists in the process of electroless nickel plating, the staff at Nitec gladly took on the project.

Thousands of scientists and engineers have used the lab to carry out their research in lots of areas, including astronomy, physics and light sources. With such important research in mind, electroless nickel plating specialists Nitec had to meet all the relevant regulations in order to comply with the high standards requested by Rutherford Laboratories.

The equipment requiring surface treatment was a vacuum chamber, used by the laboratory to carry out tests and experiments  The iron from the chamber walls was a concern for Rutherford Laboratories, as it could affect the results of tests. The lasers which are used in experiments such as these actually had the power to burn through the paint, therefore the chamber needed to be coated with a thin layer of electroless nickel to prevent this happening.

Nitec have a large amount of experience in plating unusually shaped objects and equipment. The expert staff at Nitec had to manufacture tanks to fit each part of the vacuum chamber, as the chamber came in several sections. Some of the parts weighed more than 20 tonnes.

The chamber itself was built like a small room, and had many portals, doors and windows which presented Nitec with the problem of gas traps formed by the recesses. Therefore, the chamber itself, which was originally going to be used as the plating tank and filled with the electroless nickel plating solution, had to be sheeted over and internally shot blasted.

Blanking plates were made for each section of the chamber, and each one was fitted with an air pipe which fed up and outside the chamber in order to remove any excess solution and gas. This process ensured that the vacuum chamber was completely covered by the electroless nickel coating, meeting the high standards of quality required by the laboratory in order for all tests and experiments to be accurate and successful.

To find out more about how Nitec can help your business with their electroless nickel plating needs, even if the object is particularly large or unusually shaped, why not visit our website and take a look at the projects we have embarked upon recently. If you would like to speak to one of the electroless nickel plating experts at Nitec, don’t hesitate to call our friendly team on 44 (0)845 224 3571.

Dec 21

Use Electroless Nickel Plating to Replace Hard Chrome

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.

As well a electroless nickel plating, NiTEC also specialise in diffused nickel plating finishes, copper plating as a process, shotblasting and heat treatment.

To find out more about electroless nickel plating visit the NiTEC website.

Dec 19

Cheaper Alternatives to Stainless Steel

As specialists in electroless nickel plating, NiTEC are passionate about promoting the advantages of the process over using other metals, such as stainless steel.

Stainless steel is very resistant to corrosion, and can therefore be used when the levels of hardness of the metal are important. But using electroless nickel plating as an alternative to stainless steel has many advantages. Mild steel or cast iron with an electroless nickel coating is a much more cost effective way of achieving high levels of hardness and corrosion resistance.

Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, rust or stain easily with water as ordinary steel would do, but despite its name, stainless steel is not actually fully stain proof.  Stainless steel will in fact stain and even corrode in conditions where there are low levels of oxygen, high levels of salt or poor circulation.

If you are interested in the process of  electroless nickel plating as a cheaper alternative to stainless steel, contact NiTEC on 0845 2243571 or email web@nitec-enp.co.uk and we’ll show you how much you can save.

For more information on the many advantages of electroless nickel plating including hardness and corrosion resistance, please visit out website.

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Dec 10

Large Capacity Electroless Nickel Plating

NiTEC are leading specialists in the process of electroless nickel plating. 

As a plating company established in 1978, we have developed a wide range of techniques and developed leading technology within the plating industry.

High end plating services, cost effective price

NiTEC are able to provide a high-end nickel plating service at a cost-effective price. We have a total of 5 production lines with a standard lead time of just 5 days. The number of production lines in operation means that our capacity is efficient, our prices reasonable, and our turn around fast.

How big are our electroless nickel plating tanks?

At NiTEC, we have tanks up to 10 metres in length. In addition to these large tanks, we also have a lifting capacity of up to 20 metric tonnes, meaning that we can plate very large objects with ease.

The size and lifting capacity of the facilities at NiTEC are unique in the UK, as the maximum competitive solution is only 3 metres in length. We can plate parts of all sizes, from small pins to large applications such as oil pipelines.

Our onsite laboratory facilities ensure that all our metal plating processes are closely controlled, maintaining a consistently high level of quality.

If you have a large component that you need nickel plating, but are concerned about size restrictions or weight, contact NiTEC on (0)845 224 3571, email us at web@nitec-enp.co.uk, or visit our website for more information. We have the capacity to plate very large components and are rarely defeated!