Electroless plating is a chemical process used to deposit a layer of metal plating onto a part or product. As its name would suggest, this process does not utilize an electrical current like many other metal plating processes. Instead, this process requires a reducing agent. This chemical reacts with the metal ions and causes the metal to be deposited on the surface of a substrate or workpiece. The electroless plating process is most commonly used to deposit nickel alloys.
In order to utilize electroless plating, the substrate must be thoroughly cleaned in a pre-treatment process. The pre-treatment is a series of chemical cleanings which remove soils, debris, and other unwanted material from the surface of the substrate. Typically, the substrate must be rinsed multiple times between each chemical cleaning.
If this cleaning process fails to remove the debris and unwanted materials, the substrate cannot be plated properly. Once the plating process is completed, an anti-oxidation treatment is applied to the surface of the plated material followed by more water rinsing. Then the substrate is dried or baked to achieve the full hardness of the plating.
Though this process may seem very sensitive and involved, it offers many distinct advantages when compared with other plating processes. As stated before, electroless plating provides the benefit of not needing electrical power. This plating process also creates much more evenly coated surfaces than other processes and can evenly plate blind holes and recesses.
Many different finishes can also be achieved with electroless plating, including matte, semi bright, and bright finishes. Due to the wear resistance, corrosion resistance and hardness of the coatings, this process is utilized in many different industries and applications. Rotors, drive shafts, rails, valves, and mechanical tools are just a few examples of electross plated products.