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The Composition and Structure of Electroless Nickel Plating

Component plated with high phosphorus electroless nickelThe structure of electroless nickel is responsible for the unique properties it possesses, making it such a useful metal coating. Electrodeposited nickel typically has a crystalline structure, whereas an electroless nickel deposit is normally described as having an amorphous structure or one consisting of ultra-fine crystallites. The amorphous nature of electroless nickel deposits become more dominant as the phosphorus content increases, and phosphorus contents above 10.5% are typically considered truly amorphous.

The absence of a well-defined crystal structure eliminates the possibility of inter-granular corrosion that can be a problem with crystalline deposits, such as electrolytic nickel. Electroless nickel, therefore, provides a barrier that is more effective at protecting a substrate from corrosion.

Heat Treatment and Electroless Nickel Plating

Heat treatment can also be used to change the properties and structure of nickel phosphorus deposits. High temperature heat treatment solutions for sustained periods can be used to diffuse the electroless nickel layer into the steel, giving a degree of flexibility to the coating. This process does not affect the increased corrosion protection offered by this type of deposit.

The Composition of Electroless Nickel Coatings

The phosphorus content of an electroless nickel coating has a great effect on the properties of the deposit, and can be varied over a wide range.

High Phosphorus Electroless Nickel Coatings

For example, high phosphorus electroless nickel typically contains a phosphorus content of between 10-12%, making it ideal for applications where a uniform, hard and highly corrosion resistant coating is required. Other advantages include low porosity, pit-free deposits and a very stable and robust coating.

Medium Phosphorus Electroless Nickel Coatings

Medium phosphorus solutions contain between 6 and 10% phosphorus and produce a coating which effectively combines intermediate hardness with good corrosion resistance. Medium phosphorus coatings deposit rapidly and produce a bright or semi-bright coating.

Low Phosphorus Electroless Nickel Coatings

A low phosphorus electroless nickel coating typically contains 2.5% phosphorus. This produces a very uniform porous free coating which uniformly covers the complete surface of the component, including inside recesses. It has excellent corrosion resistance in alkaline conditions, but the coating is relatively soft, below 235VPN, and is therefore not particularly wear resistant.

Worldwide Electroless Nickel Plating Service

Contact us today on 0845 224 3571 or email us at info@nitec-enp.co.uk to talk through your electroless nickel plating requirements.

Extending the Service Life of Mild Steel with Nickel Plated Metal Coatings

Nickel coatings can be used to extend the service life of mild steel components in a variety of hostile and highly corrosive environments. From deep in the ocean to the wildest of deserts, our cutting edge metal finishing solution can provide a protective, corrosion resistant coating that can significantly increase the life of components. These metal coatings can be applied to a variety of surfaces in order to protect them from these types of conditions, meaning that there is less downtime for the repair and replacement of components, and, in turn, increased efficiency.

Metal Coatings for Marine Environments

offshore oilrigAs specialists in electroless nickel plating, NiTEC have developed a number of cutting edge treatments and techniques in the field of metal plating. Because SeaTEC 100 is a metal finishing process that can sustain harsh marine environments for thousands of hours, it is the perfect solution to the problem of marine corrosion. Marine conditions can significantly increase the rate of corrosion on parts, and SeaTEC 100 can eliminate this corrosion at a level of performance that cannot be beaten in the industry.

Our SeaTEC 100 coating can extend the life of mild steel operating in marine environments and has the advantage of being extremely cost effective. This product has been tested extensively and expertly developed by the team at NiTEC.

Metal Plating for use on Oil Rigs and Offshore Oil and Gas

SeaTEC 100 is able to protect mild steel from corrosion for many hours, so is ideal for use in sub-sea conditions. It can effectively increase the strength of items when they are at their weakest level, and is, therefore, perfect for components such as pipeline connectors. Our metal finishing experts have tested this process to ensure that the coating can withstand salt spray conditions for over 25,000 hours, making it an industry leader.

By plating metal components, valves and connectors using this process, the life of the material can be extended substantially even when used in a marine environment. Using SeaTEC is far more cost effective than other methods as the parts do not need to be replaced or repaired as often, and the finish is also available in a variety of colours.

Metal Plating Services Chesterfield

If you would like further information about this process, or more information about the other services that NiTEC offer such as electroless nickel platingcopper platingshot blasting or heat treatment, please visit our website.

Top 5 Properties of Electroless Nickel Coatings

No other metal coating has the combination of properties offered by electroless nickel, which is why it is such a popular coating for a number of industries. As specialists in the process, we’ve put together the top 5 properties of electroless nickel plating.

Uniform Thickness

nickel plating technical figureElectroless nickel coatings can be applied in a variety of coating thicknesses. Electroless nickel can be deposited uniformly, with minimum variation from point to point. Regardless of the size and shape of the part, including recesses, holes, and complex dimensions, the uniformity of the coating can still be maintained. The range of thicknesses for electroless nickel coatings in commercial applications is 0.1 to 5 mils, however deposits as thick as 40 mils can be achieved.

Corrosion Resistance

One of the main reasons why electroless nickel plating is such a popular coating is the fact that it provides incredible corrosion resistance and corrosion protection. This property makes components coated with electroless nickel commonplace in functional applications. It is able to effectively withstand the combination of abrasion and corrosive chemicals, even in the most corrosive environments such as those encountered in drilling and producing oil wells.

Density

The density of electroless nickel coatings decline with increasing phosphorous content. That means that the higher the phosphorous content, the lower the density of the electroless nickel coating.

Adhesion

The surface preparation and activation of the electroless nickel plating is one of the most important factors for producing excellent adhesion. Electroless nickel deposits provide excellent adhesion to other substrates, for example steel, aluminium, copper and copper alloys. Heat treatment at a low temperature is commonly used to improve the adhesion of electroless nickel on all metals, especially on light metals such as aluminium or titanium. During this heat treatment, diffusion can occur between the atoms of the coating and the substrate.

Hardness

The hardness of electroless nickel coatings depends on the phosphorus content, and can be increased by heat treatment which will in turn increase wear resistance. Generally, low phosphorous electroless nickel coatings have a high hardness of 700-750 VPN and medium phosphorus electroless nickel has a hardness of 500-550 VPN. High phosphorous coatings are not usually heat-treated, but left as-plated for their superior corrosion protection.

Metal Plating Company in Derbyshire, UK

Here at NiTEC UK, we are experts in the process of electroless nickel plating. To find out more about our electroless nickel plating and other metal plating services, please call the NiTEC team on 0845 224 3571, email info@nitec-enp.co.uk or get in touch via our contact page.

Latest Photos of New Electroless Nickel Plating Factory Building

As you can see from the latest photos, the structure for the new factory extension is well on the way. As readers of our blog will know, it’s all part of a massive expansion phase for NiTEC UK, which will create 4 new plating electroless nickel plating lines and room for plenty more heat treatment processes.

Biggest Plating Line in Europe

The new factory extension will create an extra 3,000 square foot of space and will allow us to handle components of up to 30 tonnes. We think that this will make NiTEC the proud owners of the biggest plating line in Europe, making us industry leaders in the process.

Electroless Nickel Plating Services

We have more than 30 years of experience specialising in the electroless nickel plating process and we also offer a variety of surface treatments including diffused nickel plating, copper platingnickel PTFE, nickel diamond, tin plating and nickel boron. For more information, please call us on 0845 224 3571 or email info@nitec-enp.co.uk

Further Electroless Nickel Plating for Designer Thomas Heatherwick

nickel plated extruded benchesAs readers of our blog will know, NiTEC UK had the pleasure of electroless nickel plating a number of extruded benches on behalf of the English designer Thomas Heatherwick. Heatherwick’s recent projects have included the Olympic Cauldron for the London Olympics and the Garden Bridge across the River Thames. These projects, and several others, have meant that Heatherwick’s popularity and exposure has increased dramatically over the past few months, boosting his profile as an incredibly well respected and admired designer.

Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge across the Thames

The Garden Bridge followed Transport for London’s tender for proposals to improve pedestrian links across the Thames. Thomas Heatherwick and British actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley developed an idea for a pedestrian ‘Garden Bridge’ across the river. The bridge would connect the North and South of the city with a garden, adding to London’s diverse horticultural heritage.

Nickel Plated Extruded Benches

Since the rise in Heatherwick’s profile, many pieces of work created by the designer have become very desirable. This includes his famous benches, which involve manufacturing aluminium components through an industrial process called extrusion.

The process involves squeezing heated metal through a shaped hole which is known as die. The heated metal produces straight aluminium lengths with a precisely shaped cross section. Extrusion often produces contorted shapes when the metal initially squeezes through the die because the metal is inclined to snag warp as it struggles to fit through the gap. The form eventually straightens out and usually during this process; the contorted end is chopped off and melted back down.

We are, of course, delighted to be electroless nickel plating further benches on behalf of Thomas Heatherwick, and also excited about the future of his design career. His recent projects have all been notable, and received positive feedback from many, so it’s great to be involved in another of his projects.

UK Electroless Nickel Plating Service

Contact us today on 0845 224 3571 or email us at info@nitec-enp.co.uk to talk through your electroless nickel plating requirements and see how NiTEC can provide high quality processes at a cost to suit your business.