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Top 5 Industries Using Electroless Nickel Plating

offshore oilrigElectroless nickel is an incredibly useful plating technique. Its advantages include corrosion resistance, uniformity of coating, and wear resistance, which are desirable attributes to a number of industries and applications. Here at NiTEC, we’ve put together a selection of the top 5 industries using electroless nickel plating as a coating, including application examples.

The Oil and Gas Industry

Components used in the oil and gas industry, especially those that are exposed to off shore environments, demand a very high level of protection and corrosion resistance. Electroless nickel plated components for pipelines and valves within this field have been used successfully for years. Electroless nickel plating on steel has excellent resistance in marine environments.

Engineering

Electroless nickel deposits are great for protecting components made of steel, aluminium, brass and alloys from abrasive and corrosive wear. As long as the plating solution can circulate freely in order to come into contact with all surfaces, it’s possible to achieve a specified thickness and even coating on the even the most complicated shaped components.

The Automotive Industry

Applications for electroless nickel plating are in abundance within the automotive industry due to electroless nickel plating’s good corrosion and abrasion resistance. For example, the plates of a viscous clutch can be coated, the parts for ABS systems can be nickel plated, as well as fuel injection pumps and carburettors.

The Textile Industry

Electroless nickel plated components are frequently used in the textile industry. Electroless nickel plating is very hard and has a high level of abrasion resistance. Therefore, heat treated deposits of electroless nickel and the use of composite coatings are perfect for extending the working life of parts that are in contact with fast moving textile products.

The Chemical Industry

Electroless nickel coatings are suitable for many applications in the chemical industry. This is because the coating is resistant to a wide variety of chemicals. It is often possible to use electroless nickel plating as a substitute for stainless steel. For example, it can be used for stirrers, valves, reaction tanks and covers.

UK Based Electroless Nickel Plating

Our high quality electroless nickel plating service is the perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items such as those used in the engineering, automotive and oil and gas industries. For more information, please call NiTEC UK on 0845 224 3571 or email info@nitec-enp.co.uk

Electroless Nickel Plated Steel for The Darwin Centre at The Natural History Museum

Although this isn’t a recent project for our electroless nickel plating specialists at NiTEC UK, it’s definitely worth talking about on our blog! We were involved in a very exciting project in conjunction with The Natural History Museum and the development of their new extension, The Darwin Centre.

the natural history museumThis building consists of a glass structure attached to the famous London museum, and stores vast collections and housing new laboratories for scientists with ‘behind the scenes’ access for visitors. Our expertise was required to electroless nickel plate a series of steel ‘spiders’ which would hold the panels of glass together that the extension is constructed from.

Environmental Architecture

Phase I of the project was designed by the architectural firm HOK and completed in September 2002. It includes storage for the Museum’s collection of 22 million zoological specimens stored in spirit, and is a great example of a new wave of environmental architecture.

The 120,000 square feet/ 11,150 square metre building is faced by a large glass solar wall, held together with the electroless nickel plated ‘steel spiders’, and is designed to reduce heat in summer and heat loss in winter. It has a ‘caterpillar’ roof made of recyclable materials, which lets in lots of natural light, and reduces the need for electricity.

HOK used zoomorphic brackets in the solar wall of The Darwin Centre. These are sun-tracking metal louvers which move and change the appearance of the building. The centre also has a triple-skin, caterpillar like inflated roof. HOK used these techniques to reflect the centre’s work and ideals.

The environmental features of The Darwin Centre follow the designer’s wish to re-create ‘architecture parlante’. This is when the external appearance of a building reflects what happens inside, an idea which Alfred Waterhouse practised on the exterior of the main building with his use of animal sculptures. The designers also wanted to provide a visual connection to the main museum building by Waterhouse. It therefore incorporates terracotta, and the steel frame echoes the blue terracotta of the Victorian building.

Electroless Nickel Plating Services

As experts in electroless nickel plating and various other metal plating techniques, we have carried out a number of special projects in the fields of architecture, sculpture and engineering. For more information about our services, please visit our metal finishing website, call us on 0845 224 3571 or Email: info@nitec-enp.co.uk

Specialist Electroless Nickel Coatings for the Automotive Industry

brake caliper nickel plating

As experts in corrosion resistant coatings, NiTEC UK have developed a range of metal plating techniques and finishes that enhance the performance and aesthetics of parts used in the automotive industry.

Our advanced metal coatings have lead to us being trusted by worldwide automotive manufacturers, and we regularly plate components used by leading makers of cars.

Increase the Corrosion Resistance of Brake Calipers with Electroless Nickel Plating

As experts in the process of electroless nickel plating, NiTEC UK regularly plate arguably the most important part of a cars’ brake part; the brake calipers. High performance brake calipers are a key part of a modern car, and nickel is excellent for protecting steel, so is the perfect coating for applications of this sort.

As brake calipers are a necessity to allow your vehicle to stop, it is essential for them to be hard wearing and long lasting. Brake calipers are a vital part of your vehicle’s breaking system as they squeeze the brake pads against the surface of the brake rotor to slow or stop the vehicle.

Most cars on the road today have disk brakes. In a disc-braking system the car’s wheels are attached to metal discs, or rotors, that spin along with the wheels. The job of the brake calipers is to slow down the wheels of the car by creating friction with the rotors. It fits over the rotor like a clamp, and inside it is a pair of metal plates which have been bonded with friction material called brake pads.

Anti-Corrosion Coatings for High Performance Brake Calipers

nickel plated brake caliperNickel plating is the perfect solution to creating hard wearing, corrosion resistant brake calipers, and is a very effective way of coating and protecting steel.

Brake calipers are also exposed to difficult environments, for example heat, cold, summer, winter, snow and salt. Therefore, a corrosion resistant coating on these parts is very important to ensure the longevity of the cars braking system.

For more information about the variety of coating that we provide, including electroless nickel plating and nickel PTFE plating for the automotive industry, please contact us on

Electroless Plating Vs Electroplating: Which is Best?

As experts in the metal plating process, the staff at NiTEC regularly carry out the process using a variety of metals, namely nickel. We use electroless plating methods, but electroplating is also an option when it comes to plating metals. Here is a comprehensive explanation of both processes, so that you can make an informed decision on the right technique for you and your requirements.

Metal Coatings Applied Using the Electroplating Process

copper electroplatingThe process of electroplating uses an electric current to reduce dissolved metal cations so that they form a metal coating on an electrode. When current is applied to the component, it shifts the chemical composition and delivers the coating to the surface, depositing a thin layer of metal onto a metal object or component.

Multiple applications are sometimes necessary to create plating of a specific thickness. This layer can be used to provide corrosion or wear resistance, to build up worn or undersized parts, or for decorative purposes. Electroplating involves potentially dangerous equipment in order to work, and also requires clean conditions and careful procedures.

A common system involves a chemical solution with the ionic form of the metal, a positively charged anode, which may consist of the metal being plated (a soluble anode) or an insoluble anode (usually carbon, platinum, titanium, lead, or steel), and finally, a negatively charged cathode where electrons are supplied to produce a film of non-ionic metal.

Metal Coatings Applied Using the Electroless Plating Process

Electroless plating, which is also known as chemical or auto-catalytic plating, is a non-galvanic plating method that involves several simultaneous reactions in an aqueous solution. They key difference between electroless plating and electroplating is that electroless plating occurs without the use of external electrical power.

The reaction that takes place during the electroless plating process happens when hydrogen is released by a reducing agent, normally sodium hypophosphite, and oxidised, therefore providing a negative charge on the surface of the part. The component is treated with chemicals to remove oils and other corrosive elements first, and is then activated with an acid etch or proprietary solution. The application of anti-oxidation chemicals completes the process, leaving the component with high levels of resistance to corrosion and friction.

Which is Best?

For the process of electroplating to be carried out successfully, it requires complex filtration equipment and possibly dangerous battery applications. Electroless plating, on the other hand, uses no extra equipment. The chemicals can be replenished automatically, and the engineers exercise more control over the deposition process which results in a smooth, even application of the nickel plating. It is also possible to vary the thickness and volume of the plating to exact standards and specifications.

UK Electroless Nickel Plating Specialists

If you are looking for a quality company specialising in the process of electroless nickel plating, look no further than NiTEC. Talk to a member of our friendly team on 0845 224 3571 or email info@nitec-enp.co.uk for more information.

The History of Electroless Nickel Plating

The process of plating metal, including nickel plating, has been used to strengthen metal against corrosion and wear for hundreds of years. It has also been used to enhance the appearance of metal, which otherwise may be quite dull and not so pleasing on the eye. There are various methods of plating that have been used over the years, and still are today, including electric and chemical methods of dispersing the layer of metal coating onto a substrate.

An Historical Overview of Electroless Nickel Plating

The electroless nickel plating of metallic nickel from an aqueous solution in the presence of hypophosphite first occurred as a chemical accident by Wurtz in 1844. Progress in the field of electroless nickel plating didn’t progress much until after World War Two, when in 1946, Brenner and Riddell developed a process for plating the inner walls of tubes with nickel-tungsten alloy, which was derived from the citrate based bath using an insoluble anode, bringing out the unusual reducing properties of hypophosphite.

An Alternative Process to Conventional Electroplating

early electro platingDuring the 1954-59 period, Gutzeit at GATC (General American Transportation Corporation) worked on full scale development of electroless plating by chemical reduction alone, as an alternate process to conventional electroplating.

A study was then conducted in 1966, in which the co-deposition of particles was carried out for electrodepositing Ni-Cr by Odekerken. The study revealed that an intermediate layer consisting of finely powdered particles such as aluminium oxide and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin were distributed within a metallic matrix.

This meant that a layer in the electroless coating was composite, but that other parts of it were not. The first commercial application of their work occurred in 1981, when they used the electroless Ni-SiC coatings on the wankel internal combustion engine and another commercial composite incorporating polytetrafluoroethylene (Ni-P-PTFE).

The Co-Deposition of Diamond and PTFE Particles in Electroless Nickel Plating

The co-deposition of diamond and PTFE particles was proven to be more difficult, and The feasibility to incorporate the fine second phase particles, in submicron to nano size, within a metal/alloy matrix has initiated a new generation of composite coatings.

Composite Coatings of Electroless Nickel

Here at NiTEC UK, we provide a number of electroless nickel composite coatings including nickel diamond plating, nickel PTFE and nickel boron. For more information about the composite nickel coatings offered by NiTEC UK, contact us on 0845 224 3571 or email us at info@nitec-enp.co.uk. Our staff will formulate the right solution for your application, providing advanced nickel composite plating services to meet your needs.

6 Reasons to Use Electroless Nickel Plating for Engineering Applications

Electroless nickel plating is an incredibly functional finish that can offer massive advantages in the field of engineering. As experts in the process, we’ve put together our top 4 advantages of electroless nickel plating, which we feel prove that this method is superior over conventional plating processes.

nickel plating technical figure1. Uniform Deposition of Electroless Nickel

Electroless nickel coatings provide a uniform deposition on the surface of the component.

2. Strong, Chip Free Coating

With electroless nickel plating, there is no need to worry about the strength of the coating.

Electroless nickel coatings do not chip, peel, flake or rub off like some coatings do, such as paints and lacquers. It can also be applied on its own without any other pre-surface treatments.

3. The Ability to Plate Irregular Shapes

In addition to the uniform deposit of electroless nickel, it is also able to plate irregular shapes uniformly. This means that should a part have recesses and crevices, the coating will be deposited on these parts evenly, regardless of the shape.

4. Heat Treatment to Increase Hardness

Another advantage of electroless nickel coatings is that they can be treated with heat in order to further increase the level of hardness of the deposit.

5. Corrosion and Erosion Barrier

Electroless nickel provides a barrier against corrosion and erosion in especially demanding applications in the marine and offshore industry, and the petroleum industry.

6. Release Properties

Electroless nickel coatings also provide exceptional release properties due to its anti-stick surface. This self lubrication also reduces the wear of a component, which means that there is very little coating weight loss from friction between parts.

Electroless Nickel Plating Services

Here at NiTEC, we provide a range of metal finishing and metal plating services. Our high quality electroless nickel plating service is the perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items such as those used in the defence, healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries. For more information, please call NiTEC UK on 0845 224 3571 or email info@nitec-enp.co.uk