Electroless Nickel Plating vs. Electrolytic Nickel Plating

Nickel plating refers to applying a layer of nickel to the surface of a metal, either to enhance its durability or for aesthetic purposes. Nickel plating serves as a barrier to protect industrial components from wear and corrosion. In the absence of protective coating, machinery’s lifespan is reduced and repair costs are increased.

The outcomes of nickel plating can differ depending on the procedure used. Electroless nickel and electrolytic nickel are two plating choices. Electrical current is what separates these two techniques. Rather than employing electricity, natural chemical reactions are used in electroless nickel plating.

Allows for greater coating thickness and brightness flexibility, as well as lower utility costs. Electroless nickel plating can be found on everything from kitchen utensils to bathroom fixtures to machinery and tools because of these reasons. Its relatively inexpensive price and wide range of applications make it is a popular choice for coating.

Electroless Nickel Plating

As there is no electric charge of catalyst required, electroless nickel plating is the more straightforward plating method available. A natural chemical reaction takes place on all exposed portions of the base material. This improves coating thickness precision and customisation.

Simple chemical chain reactions underlie the electroless nickel plating procedure. To guarantee a flawless coating, the core material or substrate is first cleansed. After that, a water-based solution is used to clean it. Both nickel salt and a phosphorous-containing reducing agent are included in the solution. There are many different types of lowering agents. To put it another way, this results in nickel sticking to the substrate.

There is no need for electricity in this method because the chemical reaction takes place naturally. Since electrolytic plating is less homogeneous, the final coating is more consistent.

Electrolytic Nickel Plating

Electrolytic nickel plating is different from electroless plating in that it uses an electric current to coat things. Two electrodes are dipped into a solution and linked to an electric circuit in order to create this sort of plating. Metal atoms are deposited as electricity travels across the circuit, resulting in a thin layer.

Cheaper materials such as plastic can be improved by electrolytic nickel plating. Electroless nickel plating, on the other hand, can also improve corrosion resistance and durability, although it does so less efficiently because of the difference in coating thickness. An uneven plating layer will result if the external electrical current has different high- and low-current locations.

The coating will be either thicker or thinner where it meets the base material at corners, edges, caves, and dips. In the end, the product is less resistant to wear and tear because of the lack of homogeneity.

Electroless Nickel Plating Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages and disadvantages of this type of plating process are detailed below. 

  • Coating irregularly shaped objects with an even layer
  • Non-conductive as well as conductive substrates can be used
  • Has the ability to reach even the most difficult-to-reach areas of complicated parts
  • Coating consistency makes it more resistant to corrosion
  • It does not use electricity, which lowers its price
  • Has a range of finishes, from matte to brilliant, that may be altered
  • Due to less nickel being wasted, it saves money

Plating sophisticated industrial machinery with electroless nickel is a great option. The chemical bath must be supplied frequently as electrons are exchanged, which is a drawback. The plating process necessitates constant monitoring in order to be effective. However, due to its uniformity and reliability, this type of plating is becoming increasingly popular.

Electrolytic Nickel Plating Advantages and Disadvantages

Electrolytic nickel plating is expensive, time-consuming, and results in a less uniform coating because it requires an external electric current. Electrolytic nickel plating has a number of drawbacks, including the fact that it:

  • Conductive materials are required for this to work
  • Due to the lack of homogeneity, it is less resistant to corrosion
  • Lacks homogeneity, which makes it less resistant to friction
  • Cracks or damage are more likely to occur
  • It May is not as pleasing to the eye as others
  • Expenses money and takes a long time
  • When the solution is disposed of, it raises questions about its impact on the environment

Electroless nickel plating is preferred to electrolytic nickel plating when uniformity is required. Electrolytic plating is a good choice if you’re plating just for aesthetic reasons. Electrolytic plating, for example, is acceptable for covering plastic tree ornaments in order to give them a more premium look.

Contact Smart Microns now to learn more about how our nickel plating services may help your company. Discover what makes us one of the world’s top nickel plating businesses!