Electroless nickel plating and galvanisation are both effective metal finishing techniques for the prevention of corrosion and rust on the surface of metal. If you’re trying to decide which would be a better coating for your application, we’ve put together a bit of information comparing the processes so that you can make an informed decision.
Protecting Metal Using Galvanisation
When a metal is galvanised, a protective zinc coating is applied to it. This zinc coating is applied to steel or iron in order to prevent the surface of the metal from rusting. Galvanisation is an effective way of preventing the ferrous item from rusting, as the corrosion resistance of zinc is much higher than iron or steel. It is also a cheap process, easily applied and has a long, maintenance free service life.
Hot-dip galvanisation is the most common method of galvanisation. During this process, the steel parts are submerged in a bath of molten zinc. This process is also achievable through electrochemical and electro deposition processes but there are some differences between them.
Hot-dip galvanisation produces a grey, matte coating to the surface of the metal, which is very thick and durable. Electroplated coatings are less durable and unsuitable for outdoor applications because of the thinness of the deposit. This can be overcome to some extent, however, by painting the surface which slows down zinc consumption, therefore delaying the corrosion and extending its durability.
Electroless Nickel as an Alternative to Galvanisation
The electroless nickel plating process is a high quality, cost effective solution to coating metals such as mild or stainless steel and can substantially extend the life of a component. It is an excellent alternative to galvanisation as it is both durable and aesthetically pleasing. Not only does electroless nickel plating provide enough corrosion resistance to be used in harsh environments, the uniform coating it creates can be a perfect solution for critical high-end engineering items such as those used in the defence, healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries.
Electroless nickel plating is also much cheaper than you would imagine, considering the extent of its durability, and the wear resistance of the surface can be increased by using heat treatments. This makes it an ideal specialist plating where friction and wear may be problematic with regard to the use of the component.