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.
Electroless 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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