In the first installment of our plating series, we covered the best methods for plating aluminum: chem film and anodize. Here, we’ll explore electroless nickel plating, a versatile finishing method that works well with many metals, including steel, copper, and aluminum alloys.
Electroless nickel plating uses a chemical reduction process to deposit an alloy of 90% nickel and 10% phosphorus onto the surface of a metal part. Promising excellent durability and an attractive cosmetic appearance, RoHS-compliant electroless nickel is a popular choice for various applications.
Common Applications for Electroless Nickel Plating
Parts we commonly send to our trusted third-party vendors for electroless nickel plating services include:
- Cosmetic Parts that require durable surfaces
- Medical components
Benefits of Electroless Nickel Plating
Electroless nickel plating is a precision machine shop-friendly finishing method that boasts many benefits.
An excellent choice for parts that must withstand extreme environments, electroless nickel plating is highly resistant to salt water, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and oxygen.
Because this plating method doesn’t require electric current, it can penetrate easily into a part’s corners, edges, and recesses, resulting in a highly consistent coating. The exceptional consistency makes it a great choice for assemblies requiring soldering.
High hardness level
Nickel-plated parts have a hardness level of 48 Rockwell C, which can be increased to up to 70 Rockwell C through heat treating.
Compared to finishing methods such as anodizing, which can add an unpredictable amount of buildup to a part’s surface, electroless nickel plating adds only about 0.001” of buildup, allowing us to hold the tightest tolerances of any plating method.
Electroless nickel plating is popular for its shiny silver appearance, which makes it a desirable choice for external parts. The luxe coating has a look similar to steel for a lower price point. It also resembles chrome without requiring an electricity-based finishing process.
Considerations for Electroless Nickel Plating Services
As with all plating methods, there are factors you’ll need to consider when requesting electroless nickel plating services.
Features with internal or external threading may need to be masked to prevent buildup from accumulating on the threads. If you are unsure whether masking is necessary, just ask our team!
Although electroless nickel plating adds less buildup to parts than most finishing methods, it’s still important to plan for the 0.001” buildup it does produce. Be sure to communicate with your precision machining partner about your specified tolerances so that they can account for anticipated buildup during machining if necessary.
Choose Reata for Seamless Electroless Nickel Plating Services
Reata subcontracts plating services to well-vetted members of our vendor network. Our high-level project management capabilities ensure you’ll receive exceptional electroless nickel plating services for your precision parts without having to do the heavy lifting yourself.
Request a quote today!