The technique of nickel plating is also known as nickel electroplating, and it has a wide variety of commercial applications.

In this article, we wanted to go a bit deeper and explain what nickel plating is, its benefits, and where it is commonly applied.

The Definition of Nickel Plating

The process of nickel plating involves electrolytically depositing a layer on a metal surface.

However, there is also the process of electroless nickel plating which is an auto-catalytic reaction where you deposit the coating onto a substrate. There’s no need for an electric current as in nickel electroplating. Electroless nickel plating is more advantageous in the sense that it’s free from power supply issues and flux density. It’s also ideal in preventing corrosion and wear.

The result of both forms of nickel plating is usually a very smooth surface that’s also dull gray in its appearance.

Additionally, there are also other processes of nickel plating like:

  • Bright nickel plating – a form of nickel electroplating where bright nickel is used. The result is a smooth and remarkably leveled glossy surface. It offers good conductivity but not enough corrosion resistance.
  • Zinc-nickel plating – is a combination of zinc and nickel in this form of plating. It offers excellent corrosion resistance and creates an excellent base for painting or other types of coating.

The Benefits of Nickel Plating

The benefits are many, and they all stem from several distinct properties of nickel:

  • Wear resistance – whenever you add a layer over a material, it keeps its appearance and brightness over very long periods
  • Corrosion resistance – usually obtained from matte and bright nickel which possess excellent corrosion resistance qualities
  • Magnetic qualities
  • Hardness and strength
  • Lubricity
  • Diffusion barrier properties – this makes it suitable as a barrier between the material on which it’s placed and the second layer of coating with another metal like gold and silver

What Is Nickel Plating Used for?

First of all, nickel layers are easily applied to several common metals and alloys like copper and copper alloys, aluminum, mild steels, titanium, hardened steel, stainless steel, brass, zinc die-cast, and plastic.

Some of these materials require special treatment before performing the nickel plating. Also, before plating, the product needs to be free of grease, scale, oxide, and oil.

The uses usually depend on the type of nickel involved.

  • Engineering nickel usually is for non-decorative applications
  • Bright Nickel is a standard for the automotive industry and the making of hand tools and household items

When it comes to more specific uses, nickel plating is usually applied as a base plating layer because of its excellent adhesion properties with other materials. Nickel plating is used in:

  • Chemical equipment
  • Food processing equipment
  • Electronic applications
  • Aerospace applications
  • Automotive industry applications
  • Anodes and cathodes
  • Heat shields

All in all, nickel plating is a beneficial form of plating when wear and corrosion resistance is required, as well as strength and durability. If you find it useful for your business as well, feel free to contact us, and we’ll see how best we can help you.