What is Electroless Nickel Plating?
Electroless nickel plating deposits a nickel alloy onto a part without electricity–it’s a simple chemical reaction. It provides excellent corrosion and wear resistance to metal parts and is so good that designers can use cheaper types of metal and still get the corrosion resistance of costlier metals, like stainless steel.
Electroless nickel plating deposits are free from the common bumps, fisheyes, and unevenness of traditional electrolytic deposits and can cover even extremely complex geometries with excellent uniformity.
Common applications are automobiles, aircraft and personal and industrial electronic devices, as well as chemical processing operations. Companies in the oil and gas industry also use electroless nickel plating for superior corrosion protection in harsh operating environments.
Electroless nickel plating is offered in three different phosphorus content weights: Low Phosphorus, Mid Phosphorus, and High Phosphorus. The phosphorus content affects how the part behaves against corrosion and wear and affects the hardness of the part. HeyScottie offers mid-phosphorus plating (but if you need other types, please give us a call!).
Electroless nickel is generally applied to a thickness range of 0.0005” to 0.001” and does not usually require additional surface finishing, machining, or grinding after plating. The coating fills any minor imperfections in the substrate.
HeyScottie does electroless Nickel Plating to the MIL-C-26074 spec, which has been retired but is widely used in the plating industry.
What is Electroless Nickel good for?
E-less Nickel plating produces a nickel-phosphorous coating that enhances corrosion and wear resistance and can increase surface hardness. It leaves a more consistent finish than other types of plating.
Electroless Nickel’s (or e-less Nickel) outstanding corrosion resistance means it is virtually unaffected by petroleum products, alkalis, weak acids, and many other organic liquids. It is nontoxic nature and is used extensively in the food prep and handling equipment industries.
- Excellent corrosion resistance
- Typically does not require any further surface finishing, machining, or grinding after plating
- Very uniform coating–conforms to the shape of the part with little to no edge buildup
- Can make a non-conductive part conductive
- Increases the hardness of the part
Not so good things
- Not as hard as chrome plating
- Not as durable as chrome plating
- More expensive than chrome plating
What types of Electroless Nickel Plating are there?
There are many types of e-less Nickel Plating. Different types yield different corrosion resistance. The most common ones are:
- Low phosphorus (1 to 4% weight phosphorus): provides excellent wear resistance, fair corrosion resistance in alkaline conditions and has a high melting point. More expensive than medium and high phosphorus electroless nickel. Not good in acidic environments.
- Medium phosphorus (5 to 9% weight phosphorus): semi-bright to bright, magnetic, good corrosion resistance, not recommended for rough applications. Not as hard as low phos. Most common.
- High phosphorus (10 to 13% weight phosphorus): semi-bright appearance, non-magnetic, high thickness; excellent corrosion resistance, ductility and stain resistance. High phosphorus electroless nickel solders easily and is very polishable. Not as hard as medium phos.
HeyScottie offers medium phosphorus as a default. If you need another type, please call us!
What Materials can be Electroless Nickel Plated?
HeyScottie can e-less Nickel plate almost any metal or metal alloy.
- Ferrous: mild steel, stainless steels, hardened steels including tool steels
- Cuprous: pure copper as well as copper alloys like tellurium, beryllium, and brass
- Aluminum: all kinds including wrought, cast and others
- Exotics: many kinds, like Nickel 200, Inconel, Kovar, Monel, and lead
What can’t be E-less Nickel Plating Tips?
With HeyScottie, only send in metal parts to be e-less Nickel plated. Assemblies which contain non-metal parts such as plastic, glass or organic substances (e.g., rubber gaskets), will not be plated. They can be affected by the pretreatment or not behave well in the ovens.
Clean parts only!
Make sure your parts are clean! Surface oils may or may not come off in the first anodizing stage. Having greasy or oily parts messes with the powder’s adhesion. Dirty parts make it difficult to apply masking for screw holes and such.
Smooth Parts, please
Please send in smooth parts. Burrs and other unevenness cannot be effectively plated. All burrs, knife edges, or weld spatter should be smoothed. If you don’t want to, we can do it, ask HeyScottie!
Fresh parts only!
Don’t send in parts that have been previously plated, the old finish needs to be blasted off. If you have those needs, contact HeyScottie – we can discuss options.
Each piece must be disassembled. Any item that contains rubber, plastic or wiring requires disassembly before coating. If any non-metal components remain, they will probably melt during the heat curing process, creating an enormous mess.
Cost Drivers for E-less Nickel Plating
All prices include chemical pretreatment and rinse, masking of all threads, preparation, and e-less Nickel plating to your requirements.
Class – determines process steps based on material type
There are 4 different “classes” of e-less Nickel Plating, and these are dependent on the type of material to be plated and whether the parts need a heat treatment for hardening. Different metals need different treatment steps to achieve all of e-less nickel plating’s benefits.
Class 1: Default process. For steel and other metals. Not heat treated (however, it is heated a little – but only for hydrogen embrittlement relief which is not considered heat treatment).
Class 2: For steel and other metals needing a bake in order to ensure part hardness. In addition to plating, the parts are heat-treated for hardness. May be used on all metals (except aluminum) not affected by heating to 500F and above for 30 minutes to 4 hours.
Class 3: For non-heat-treatable Aluminum and Beryllium alloys (any that can’t go above 500F); heat treated to improve adhesion of the nickel deposit.
Class 4: For heat-treatable Aluminum alloys. An additional step is needed to improve the nickel deposit’s adhesion.
Grade – specifies the Thickness
The thickness of the plating is determined by what is being plated; a thicker plate is more expensive than a thin one.
- Grade A 0.0010” minimum deposit thickness for Aluminum alloys
- Grade B 0.0005” minimum deposit thickness for Copper, Nickel and Cobalt alloys
- Grade C 0.0015” minimum deposit thickness for Ferrous alloys
After the type plating, the next most important cost driver is the size of the part needing plating. Surface area determines the total amount of material that the plating operation uses. Sometimes weight is a factor if the part is heavy to move. For sheet metal or larger jobs, finishers will quote a price based on the square footage of the surface area. For jobs like fences and railings the price will be by the linear foot.
If your parts are old or used, they will need to be pre-treated so the material will plate correctly. This is a manual process and adds cost. Pre-treatments include:
- Burn-off to remove old finishes
- Chemical cleaning for degreasing
- Sandblasting for removing old finishes
How to Request an Electroless Nickel Quote
HeyScottie needs the following information to process an Electroless Nickel Quote Request.
We need your contact information. Please double check that this is correct. This will be our primary means of communication. We do not need your phone number, but it will make communication easier if you share. It will only be used as a last resort for time-sensitive requests.
We need the following information about your part:
HeyScottie’s automatic pricing engine can give you an instant quote for e-less nickel plating alloys of aluminum, copper, nickel, cobalt, titanium, beryllium, and steel, as well as Stainless Steel, Invar and Covar. Contact HeyScottie (link) for a quote for other materials.
Specify whether the parts need heat treatment to improve hardness. HeyScottie offers electroless Nickel Plating to the MIL-C-26074 spec, see that spec for details on heat treatment. You are responsible for determining if your parts are able of being heat treatable.
We price our services by the number of holes needing masking. We define a hole as being less than or equal to 1” deep and 0.062” diameter. Anything larger requires a manual quote, please use the contact us for your request.
We will need your CAD file. HeyScottie values your privacy and data security! As always, you own your data, and HeyScottie only uses it to view, estimate and process buyer-specific projects. Buyer data is not shared outside of HeyScottie’s services. The servers and network where data is stored are isolated by a firewall and only one person has access to it. HeyScottie conducts regular security scans to look for vulnerabilities. Data is encrypted on the server and in transit.
Projects that are fulfilled by HeyScottie’s Manufacturing Partner’s are given unique internal ID’s, which anonymize the buyer. Manufacturing Partners are held under HeyScottie’s NDA agreement, and conform to HeyScottie’s non-disclosure and service agreements.
When you submit, you will next be taken to a form to confirm your order: part, quantity, service, your contact details, and your shipping address. If that looks good, you will be asked to confirm your free shipping. Once confirmed, you will be asked to enter your billing information. You will also have the opportunity to confirm the order one last time before submitting.)
How much does E-less Nickel Plating cost?
All prices include cleaning and rinsing, masking of all threads, preparation, e-less Nickel Plating and heat treating (if specified).
It’s a batch process business, with significant setup work (cleaning, masking). Minimum charges range from $220 to $325. Price per piece ranges from $0.01 for screws and washers, to $2000+ for a machine housing.
HeyScottie has a network of over 60 e-less Nickel plating partners around the country to help with your plating needs. We’ve made it easy to get a quick quote and get your parts plated right and on time. Request a quote today and see how easy it is to do business with HeyScottie.