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Applications of Electroless Nickel Plating
Electro nickel plating also known as nickel electro-deposition, is becoming an increasingly popular process for a variety of different manufacturing applications. Electro nickel plating is a process that uses an electrical current to coat a conductive material, typically made of metal, with a thin layer of nickel. Other metals used for electroplating include stainless steel, copper, zinc, and platinum.
Benefits of Electro Nickel Plating
In general, electroplating improves a wide range of characteristics not inherently present in the base material. Some of these benefits include:
Nickel is considered useful for electroplating metal because it provides superior ductility, corrosion resistance, and hardness. Electro nickel plating can also improve a product’s brightness and external appearance. Different nickel-plating chemicals incorporated into the process deliver anything from a semi-bright and fully bright cosmetic effect, to matte, pearl, or satin finishes.
How Electro Nickel Plating Works
To transfer nickel onto the surface of a product properly, a negative charge must be applied to the base material. To achieve this, the product is typically attached to a rectifier, battery or other power supply via a conductive wire. Once attached, a rod made of nickel is connected in a similar fashion to the positive side of the rectifier or power source.
Current Density in the Electro Nickel Plating Process
Electro nickel plating involves a wide range of current density levels. Current density directly determines the deposition rate of nickel to the base material—specifically, the higher the current density, the quicker the deposition rate. Current density, however, also affects plating adherence and plating quality, with higher current density levels delivering poorer results. Therefore, the optimal level of current density depends on the type of base material and specific type of results the final product requires.
Strike Electro Nickel Plating
Another solution to the current density issue involves incorporating a strike layer to the initial electro nickel plating process. A strike layer, also known as a flash layer, adheres a thin layer of high-quality nickel plating to the base material. Once up to 0.1 micrometers of nickel coats the product, a lower quality current density is used to improve the speed of product completion. When different metals require plating to the product’s base material, striking can be used. In cases where nickel serves as a poor adherent to the base material, for example, copper can be a buffer prior to the electro nickel-plating process.
Pre-treatment Process for Electro Nickel Plating