Electroless nickel

5 New Characteristics Gained by Electroless Nickel Plated Components

Electroless nickel plating, also referred to as ENP for short, is a process involving the addition of a nickel-alloy coating through chemical reduction. Traditional electroplating processes use an electric current to accomplish their goals, but this one doesn't - hence the name. Only a natural chemical reaction is used instead.

One of the most immediate benefits of this process is one of cost-savings - it's simply more economical to work with components that go through this process, but not at the expense of quality. There are also a number of notable characteristics that said components will gain that organizations should be aware of.

The Appearance of the Finish

For many clients, one of the most important characteristics gained by the electroless nickel plating process has to do with an almost unparalleled and consistent finish. The finish of a component will be totally uniform, all while avoiding an issue commonly known as dog-boning in manufacturing. This happens when too many amps per square foot are applied during a traditional electrolytic plating process. The result is an inconsistent deposit, which harms the look of the finished product.

But this consistency in the finish is important from a practical sense, too. If there are any pinholes and holidays or other interruptions present in the plate, it's only a matter of time before the underlying steel galvanizes in an effort to "protect" the nickel. This could lead to rust blooms and ultimately component failure, which could be a potential major safety issue when automotive, aerospace, or military applications are considered.

Superior Hardness

Once a component has gone through the electroless nickel plating process, it can be treated with heat to further improve its hardness in a way other techniques cannot. Under the right conditions, it can achieve roughly 90% of the same hardness as chromium - all by way of a material that is much less expensive and easier to work with.

Note that with this also comes increased durability in general. Components that go through electroless nickel plating are less likely to crack, shatter, or even break - even when subject to intense periods of stress.

Exceptional Conductivity

Electroless nickel plating will also enhance the overall conductivity of the underlying material. Control over conductivity is paramount, especially in industries like aerospace. Here, every component needs to be thoroughly tested to make sure it will meet critical specifications that guarantee certain features and functionality. An aircraft needs to be protected in the event that it should be struck by lightning, and that goes for every component on the craft itself. Conductivity is important for similar reasons for the types of advanced electronics systems being used in the military.

Therefore, electroless nickel plating becomes a way to make sure these needs are being accounted for without sacrificing the quality of the underlying component.

Excellent Corrosion Resistance

Another major benefit of the electroless nickel plating process has to do with the superior corrosion resistance that components gain. Not only are they in a better position to fend off the impact of salt water, but also other things like carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide, too. This is particularly helpful for components that will need to operate in harsh outdoor environments, which is notable for aerospace, automotive, and many military applications.

A Uniquely Consistent Thickness

While both zinc and electroless nickel plating add a thin layer of material to the component in question, it is the former that brings with it the uniquely consistent thickness that many applications demand. This layer, known as an autocatalytic coat, is great for projects with incredibly tight tolerances - again making it ideal for the rigid requirements of something like aerospace or the military.

Even a part as seemingly straightforward as a fastener can benefit from electroless nickel plating in many ways. Depending on the application, it may need the superior hardness that will allow it to stand up to even intense periods of stress, as would be true in the military. It might benefit from the exceptional conductivity that would keep people safe in an aerospace environment. Regardless, this combination of traits and plating style has a lot to offer virtually all types of customers.

If you'd like to find out more information about the many new characteristics that are gained by electroless nickel plated components, or if you'd just like to discuss your objectives in more detail, please contact us today. You can also request a quote for your project, and we can turn it around in 24 hours or less, no exceptions.

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