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Jump starting electroless nickel plating onto copper and brass


Q. We are a electroless nickel plater who wants to plate brass and copper but currently have no nickel strike. After pretreatment we introduce the racks or barrel to the bath supply current to the racks (becoming cathodic ) and begin the plating process in this manner. It works, but what I need to know, are there any negative aspects or problems I could expect?

Mark Dewitt
- Rochester, New York


A. Hi, Mark.

I can't tell you unqualifiedly that there is no downside to starting the plating of non-catalytic substrates via applying current, but I can tell you that lots of shops do it and that the technique is noted in such handbooks as Mallory & Hajdu's "Electroless Plating: Fundamentals & Applications". That volume also notes that only the hypophosphite reduced electroless nickel plating solutions have that difficulty. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. About jump starting EN on brass, etc. I have been able to jump start EN on several materials by simply touching them with a piece of Al wire, with no power supplies required.

Kirk McGlothlan, Engr.

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