Electroless Nickel Plating

ATF provides electroless nickel plating to various companies in aerospace, medical, military & defense and the transportation industries.

electroless nickel plating

Electroless nickel plating, or ENP, is an auto-catalytic (self-sustaining) chemical process used to deposit a coating of nickel on a solid surface for increased wear, lubricity, and corrosion protection without the use of electrical current. The plating process relies on the presence of a reducing agent which reacts with the metal ions to deposit metal. Metal plating has a variety of applications in aerospace, medical, military & defense and the transportation industry.

  • Wide range of plating thicknesses from 0.00001 to 0.0020 inches
  • Precision thickness
  • Uniform plating – no dogboning as is typical in electroplating
  • Low, mid and high phosphorus content for different corrosion resistance, hardness and appearance characteristics
  • Baking after plating can yield hardness as high as RC70
  • MIL-C-26074
  • ASTM B733
  • AMS 2404
  • Pretreatment blasting
  • Hydrogen embrittlement relief baking
  • Nondestructive testing and salt spray testing
  • Selective masking available
  • Normal turn time is three to five working days (without masking)
  • Masking may increase turn time
  • Expediting available when possible for an additional fee

Let us know if you have questions about electroless nickel or nickel electroplating. If this is unclear, feel free to ask us for further details.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nickel Plating

The Process of Plating

The process of electroless nickel plating involves depositing an even layer of nickel-phosphorus alloy onto the surface of a solid such as metal or plastic. The way that this process is carried out is through dipping said solid into a water solution that contains nickel salt and hypophosphite salt – it doesn’t involve any sort of electric current passing through the water solution or the solid the plating is being coated onto. This process is carried out entirely through chemicals.

No matter what surface the nickel plating is being coated onto, it will create an even layer of metal to match its shape. Unlike electroplating, a different process entirely, nickel plating assimilates to the surface’s geometric shape and keeps an even density throughout.

There are a few reasons as to why nickel plating is used. It can be done purely for decoration and aesthetics, and it can also prevent corrosion of the metal or the wear and tear that happens to metal over time. It can also be used to apply composite coatings.

Before nickel plating an object, we make sure that the surface of it is clean and free of any dirt or debris. Most mistakes occur in nickel plating after a surface has been inadequately prepared. We also give the object a chemical bath, rinsed with water after each round. This is essential for nickel plating – the last thing you want is something trapped under the coating, because that ruins the plating in the long run. After the cleaning and plating bath are finished, we work on surface activation – making the surface of the object hydrophilic. This ensures that the object is made with a metal with catalytic activity, and if it’s not, we put a thin layer of said metal onto the object via a different process. After the plating is finished, we coat the object with an anti-tarnish solution, rinse it, and dry it to make sure there are no lingering stains. In some cases, it might be necessary to bake the object under heat to ensure the metal’s strength.

Benefits of Nickel Plating

  • It conforms to the shape of any object – this includes ridges, holes, and varying sizes
  • It creates an even coating in thickness and in volume
  • It doesn’t call for electrical power

If done right, electroless nickel plating creates a coating that is less porous than most (this means it has a higher chance of being resistant to corrosion)
It can produce coatings that do not include mechanical stress

You have options when it comes to the finish of your nickel plating – you can choose from either matte, semi-bright, or bright, depending on how you want the surface of your object to look.

Along with looking pretty, nickel plating also increases the strength of the item that it has coated.

Examples of Where Plating Benefits Are Common

The following are only a sample of potential uses and are not all the potential industries:

  • Oilfield valves
  • Rotors
  • Drive shafts
  • Paper handling equipment
  • Fuel rails
  • Doorknobs
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Varying household tools
  • Office equipment
  • Hard disk drives

As you can see, there’s no specific field that nickel plating sticks to – it’s versatile, and can be utilized in many different situations. Whether you want to strengthen a piece of equipment or simply create a uniformed look in your kitchen, consider electroless nickel plating in order to get the job done.