Like other metal plating processes, nickel coating is used to create a protective layer on and alter the properties of the surface of other materials and parts. Nickel is a particularly valuable plating material due to its hardness and shinier finish. This means that it can be used to improve wear and corrosion resistance and can even be used for decorative purposes.
Nickel plating is generally accomplished in one of two ways. The first is through the electroplating process. Electroplating utilizes a solution of ionic nickel along with a negatively charged cathode and positively charged anode, usually comprised of the metal being plated. The ionic nickel is then supplied with electrons from the cathode which then produce a non-ionic metal film on the surface of the substrate or item of interest.
The other nickel plating method is called electroless nickel plating. This method of plating differs from the first in that it does not utilize the external electrical components, the anode and cathode. Instead this process utilizes a series of chemical reactions involving a reducing agent. These reactions cause the nickel to form the desired coating.
Of these two processes, electroless nickel plating is more commonly used due to the advantages it provides. This method generally results in a more even coating across the part’s surface and the coating can be evenly applied in surface recesses and in blind holes. This method also provides flexibility in the thickness of the plating. Regardless of the method used, nickel plating is a very useful and valuable process utilized in many industries. It is used in the aerospace, petrochemical, automotive, electronics, and commercial industries.