Nickel plating offers a one-of-a-kind mix of corrosion protection and wears resistance. In addition, it can add radiance, shine, and attractiveness. Nickel is frequently used as an “undercoat” for other coatings, such as chromium, because it has excellent adhesive capabilities for subsequent coating layers.

Electroplating with nickel

Electroplating, also known as surface treatment, is the process of depositing a thin layer of metal or metal alloy to a surface. The goal is to increase the longevity, aesthetics, and performance of the products being plated by changing the technical or physical attributes of the surface, such as electrical conductivity.

Nickel electroplating technology has advanced significantly over the last 50 years, allowing for the efficient production of a wide range of industrial coatings for both ornamental and functional uses. Electroplated nickel is an economically important material, with upwards of 150,000 tonnes deposited each year worldwide.

Nickel’s favourable characteristics and adaptability as a coating material are reflected in its widespread application. Nickel Electroplating has the advantage of being able to tailor the properties and appearance of nickel to specific needs by changing the electrolyte composition and working conditions.

Nickel electroplating is widely used to improve the usability, value, and aesthetic appeal of produced goods such as consumer goods. Other nickel coatings are used to improve physical qualities like wear resistance, heat resistance, and corrosion resistance. The nickel coating provides the dual aim of producing a bright, appealing surface while also imparting better corrosion resistance or other functional features in many critical applications.

The increased application of durable nickel-chromium coatings on plastics and aluminium components has been one of the most remarkable recent breakthroughs in nickel plating. 

Nickel plating without the use of electricity

A nickel coating is deposited on a surface by a controlled chemical process, or ‘reduction,’ that does not rely on an applied current in electroless nickel plating. This is why electroless nickel coatings remain remarkably uniform even when applied to goods with complex shapes. For example, hard disc drives are the most common application for computers, but other examples include metallising plastics for electroplating, automotive brake cylinders, pumps, valves, and other industrial goods.

In addition, electroless nickel plating offers good adhesion to all metals with resistance to wear and corrosion. Metals like aluminium, which is becoming increasingly significant in the automotive and aerospace industries due to its lightweight, fall under this category.

Electroless nickel coatings are the top choice for corrosion protection in tough conditions, such as automobile fuel systems, turbochargers, gearbox parts, and braking systems. In addition, electroless nickel is used to coat electrohydraulic servo valves, compressor blades, engine mounts, landing gear, and other critical components in aviation.

Electroforming

Nickel sulpha mate and nickel chloride are used in electroforming, which is an essential industrial technology. It’s an ‘additive manufacturing’ process involving electroplating nickel onto a mandrel, a pre-formed pattern or mould. After that, the mandrel is removed, leaving a nickel product that is identical to the form and texture of the original substrate. Security printing for banknotes, postage stamps, official documents, CD, DVD, hologram stampers, rotary textile printing screens, nickel foams for batteries, and radar waveguides are just a few of the applications.

In coinage, nickel electroplating is employed

Bright and durable silver currency is made from nickel-plated steel, signalling value to people. Governments also prefer plated coinage because of its low cost and long lifespan. Mints like the way nickel surfaces take die impressions, resulting in exquisite clarity and detail that lasts for decades. Vending machine makers and operators use the magnetic signature of the nickel to verify coinage and allow only actual sales. The nickel and steel in the coins are recycled when they reach the end of their useful lives, and a new cycle of use begins.

In the automotive sector, nickel electroplating is used

Plating and coating are particularly significant in the automotive industry, where coating innovation is rapidly expanding, and nickel is required for safety and longevity. Zinc-nickel electroplating is extremely good in protecting bolts, fasteners, and components from corrosion, such as salt spray, and is therefore in great demand for automotive bolts, fasteners, and parts. Hydraulic systems, shafts in various engine sections, parking brakes, and automatic gearboxes all employ it. In addition, nickel is required for the plating of polymers.

 

For the automotive industry, a high-performance coating is required

Zinc-nickel plating is utilised in applications that demand a high corrosion and heat resistance level while maintaining a thin deposit thickness. This is why it is the material of choice in the automobile sector for high-performance coatings on bolts, fasteners, and brake parts. A zinc-nickel layer typically comprises 12-15 per cent nickel. Zinc-nickel can also be used on aluminium and magnesium substrates, which are becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry.

In the aerospace sector, nickel electroplating is used

In terms of safety and reliability, the aerospace sector has the most stringent technological standards. All materials, coatings, and maintenance techniques for aeroplane components are subject to exacting standards, and all are thoroughly evaluated and tested before use.

Nickel electroplating is crucial in aerospace applications because of its unique functional features. For this reason, nickel, zinc-nickel, and electroless nickel coatings are becoming more popular in the aerospace industry.

Aircraft maintenance on-site

Brush plating is a specialised technique for electroplating machine parts on-site. Instead of removing and transferring the parts to an industrial plating facility, brush plating can be applied with mobile devices that can be carried to the aircraft’s location. This might save a lot of money when it comes to aeroplane maintenance. 

In electronics, nickel plating is used

Electronics are becoming increasingly important in the world. These are especially important in applications where reliability is vital, and failure would have disastrous effects, such as automobiles, planes, trains, and energy. Nickel electroplating is commonly used to assure functionality and dependability in electronic components such as connectors, contacts, microprocessors, and integrated circuits.

Nickel electroplating is essential in the electronics industry due to the stringent criteria for such components. It resists corrosion, has a high solderability, generates a barrier layer to prevent metal migration, and helps prevent ‘whiskers,’ which can cause short circuits.