Tag Archive for EN plating

NiTEC Electroless Nickel Plate Extruded Benches for Thomas Heatherwick

nickel plated extruded benchesNiTEC UK have been lucky enough to be involved in the nickel plating of a number of extruded benches for English designer Thomas Heatherwick.

Known for his innovative designs and creative use of engineering and materials to produce public monuments and sculptures, Heatherwick works across the disciplines of architecture, art and design.

These amazing extruded benches began life in Heatherwick’s design and architecture studio when working on a project that involved manufacturing aluminium components through an industrial process called extrusion.

Extrusion and the Production of Contorted Shapes

The process of extrusion 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.

But Heatherwick considered the mutated sections to be more interesting than the straight parts, and decided to produce more warped lengths of extruded aluminium on a much larger scale! The designer then wondered if it would be possible to use the extrusion process to create seating, much of which was needed at the time to furnish new airports and stations being built around the world. Heatherwick saw it as a simple but effective alternative to ordinary furniture that needed to be  made up of several components and materials. These extruded seats could be made all in one go, with the legs and back of the seat formed all at once.

Nickel Plating Aluminium Benches

So, the Heatherwick studio hunted for a machine capable of making this dream a reality for more than 16 years, until they finally came across a new extrusion machine that had been built in the Far East. The machine was designed for use in the aerospace industry and had the capability of exerting ten thousand tonnes of pressure. The factory it came from could not actually guarantee the outcome of the experiment because the machine had never been used to its full capacity.

Using this specialised die, Heatherwick and his studio staff made a series of aluminium benches with straight, extruded lengths, and contrasting raw, contorted ends. We were asked to carry out the electroless nickel plating of the benches in order to provide a high quality surface that would be very resistant to wear.

For more information about our recent case studies and details of other great projects that we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, check out the metal plating case studies page on the NiTEC website.

Explaining the Process of Electroless Nickel Plating

electroless nickel plated componentsHere at NiTEC UK, our metal finishing experts regularly carry out the process of electroless nickel plating. As professional electroless nickel platers, we have put together a step by step guide that will explain the process of electroless nickel plating and how it works.

Unlike electroplating, there is no need to pass an electric current through the bath of chemical solution to initiate the plating process. The metal surface instead goes through a series of cleaning and auto-catalytic reactions, described below.

Pre-treatment Process

Before the process of electroless nickel plating can begin, the surface of the substrate goes through a pre-treatment process. During this process it is cleaned with a series of chemicals which remove oils and other corrosive elements from the surface of the metal.

Activation of the Substrate

Once the substrate has been cleaned sufficiently, it can be activated with an acid etch or proprietary solution which prepares the surface for a deposit of the plating material.

Corrosion Resistant Coating

Once the plating process has been carried out, the electroless nickel coating has the result of making the component highly corrosion resistant. A coating of this type will provide superior corrosion protection in a number of environments where corrosion resistance is necessary for the longevity of the part and protection of the component. Electroless nickel acts as a barrier coating that protects the substrate underneath by providing a pore free barrier coating against the corrosive environment.

Choosing an EN Coating Based on the Nature of the Corrosive Environment

When selecting a type of electroless nickel coating for optimum performance, it’s important to consider the nature of the corrosive environment and the deposit’s resistance to corrosion through environmental factors.

Optimising the Performance of Electroless Nickel Coatings

In order for the performance of electroless nickel coatings to be optimised for maximum corrosion protection, the coating must provide a number of properties. For example, the electroless nickel coating must be continuous and free of any microporosity, roughness, nodules and irregularities within the microstructure.

UK Based Metal Finishing and Metal Hardening Company

For more information about electroless nickel plating and how it can be used to provide superior corrosion resistance, please visit the Nitec website, call our friendly staff for advice on +44 (0)845 224 3571 or email web@nitec-enp.co.uk