Why is nickel used in plating?

There are several different types of plating processes that have been used by engineering and manufacturing companies for many years. In fact, plating processes have been around since the early 1800s, when electrochemical piles were established to drive current within wires.

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Many metals can be used in a plating process, depending on the metal’s properties and what it can do to improve a surface. A common metal used in the plating process is nickel.

What does nickel have to offer in the plating process? Let’s delve deeper into understanding why nickel is used and how it can benefit a surface.

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Beginnings of nickel in plating

It was in 1837 that the deposition of nickel chloride by the action of electricity – or more simply, electrodeposition – was first explained. This procedure showed that a thin layer of nickel would be sufficient within the plating process. Not long afterward, European experiments demonstrated that nickel chloride, nitrate and nickel ammonium sulphate could also be correctly used for the plating process. For the next 70 years, this mixture became the trade standard in profitable products.

Fast forward to the last half a century, and the plating process – or nickel electroplating, as it’s known – has advanced to competently create a vast collection of industrial coatings for decorative and practical purposes.

Electroless nickel plating

Another form of plating that nickel is included in is electroless nickel plating. This process, also known as electroless nickel coating, involves a nickel covering being placed on the surface of a material using a controlled chemical method, without an applied current. Examples of products that have been through this process are engineering products such as brake cylinders, valves and pumps. More information on this type of plating can be found via sites such as https://www.poeton.co.uk/standard-treatments/electroless-nickel-plating/.

The benefits of nickel

Nickel has several benefits when it comes to its use in the plating process. According to the Surface Engineering Association, nickel is a popular finish thanks to its “bright lustre finish and hard wearing properties”. It also combines resistance of corrosion and wear and provides a high standard of adhesion for following coating layers.

Nickel is a very solid metal, so its use in the plating process is valuable as it provides durability to whatever material it’s being applied. Improved conductivity and solderability of a material or part can also be gained by using nickel in plating. As mentioned earlier, nickel plating is commonly used in many components within the engineering, chemical and electronics industries. Nickel plating is also the process used to give silver coinage its initial bright look whilst ensuring each coin becomes and remains tough and hard-wearing.

Is nickel plating for you?

Depending on what material or part you need to coat, it’s clear that nickel has a number of great benefits to improve a component’s condition and extend its life and use. If you aren’t certain about choosing nickel plating, consider seeking expert guidance.

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