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topic 0350

How to plate onto tungsten carbide


A discussion started in 1996 and continuing through 2000.
Add your Q. or A. to restore it to the "Current Topics" discussions.

1996

Q. I would like to know how to plate onto Tungsten-Carbide.

sara michaeli
Sara Michaeli sara michaeli signature
chemical process supplier
Tel-Aviv, Israel



1996

affil. link
ASM Metals Handbook Vol. 5: "Surface Engineering"
from
from Abe Books
or



or see our Review

A. Wouldn't we all, Sara . . . wouldn't we all . . .

Seriously, I hope a reader can help us!

Meanwhile, readers may wish to consult the ASM Metals Handbook, Vol. 5 as it has a chapter on activation cycles for preparing tungsten and other refractory metals for plating.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

----
Ed. note: Other threads about plating onto Tungsten-Carbide include:
Thread  0950, "Electroless Nickel Plating on Tungsten-Carbide" and
Thread 20001, "Hard Chromium Plating on Tungsten"


1996

A. Plating of WC-Co;

A lot depends on the cobalt content and distribution in the part to be plated.

HIP, or Hot Iso Static Processing will cause the Cobalt to migrate to the surface of the parts. An almost pure FCC cobalt surface can be obtained to conventional plating by using HIP processing. This can be done for almost all grades of WC-Co.

Ion implantation can be used to impart a plating like look to WC-Co and certain materials like TIC or TAC will actually improve certain surface properties.

Gordon Smith



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



Nickel plating of tungsten carbide

1996

Q. We manufacture small, precision tungsten carbide parts on a subcontracting basis. We have a long-term order to supply large quantities of electrolytic nickel -plated tungsten carbide pellets. We are looking for a plating company to provide this service, or alternatively, to purchase a small plating line for in-house production (because of the large volume and unique application). The following is a description of the part to be coated: Material: 10% cobalt-binder tungsten carbide. Dimension: 1.32 OD x 2.1 mm (0.052" OD x .083" long) The edges are slightly rounded.
Unit Weight: 0.043 gram (0.0015 oz) each. Quantity: About 2-3 million parts per month Coating: 3 to 7 micron thickness. The coating is intended to facilitate joining the pellets to a steel strip in a resistance-welding process performed in an argon environment.
The parts must go through a post-coating embrittlement relief process to improve adhesion quality. To test the adhesion quality, the parts are heated to 800 °C in a vacuum furnace and are then examined under a microscope to see whether entrapped bubbles have emerged from a void between the coating and the carbide. Such a part is considered unsatisfactory.
Our results to date with local suppliers have not been satisfactory. We still have the bubbling problem and less-than-desirable adhesion quality. Thus we are looking for new alternative solutions. We would appreciate if you could help us with experience you may have with such an application. Can you offer coating services, or preferably, could you design and provide us with a small coating line? Do you think our problem may be due to preplating preparation of the parts? Can you provide us insight into your recommendations for solving this problem? If you would like to work with us on this project, we would be happy to send you samples for testing. If you cannot, we would appreciate if you could provide us with the name of someone in the industry that might be interested.

Ethan Matlaw
microtools - Israel
outdated


1996

A. I got involved in plating on tungsten carbide a few years ago on missile parts, we found that a high chloride nickel strike (Wood's) after anodic sulphuric etching gave satisfactory adhesion, although we were plating with 0.0003"- 0.0005" ENP rather than electrolytic nickel.

Regards

Richard Guise
- Lowestoft, U.K.


1996

A. We have successfully nickel plated tungsten carbide inserts that were subsequently brazed onto machine tools. And we have successfully nickel plated small cobalt pellets used in x-ray machines. We have not, however, plated small tungsten carbide parts as you describe.

Kent

Kent Backus
Fort Worth, Texas, USA



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



Silver plating of Tungsten carbide microspheres

1999

Q. We have a challenging problem. We need to coat tungsten carbide microspheres (approx. 635 micron diameter) with silver. We have been sputter coating but adhesion is not good. Currently wondering if an initial layer of electroless nickel my act as a tie layer to get the silver to adhere. Initial cleaning/surface prep. of the tungsten carbide still a challenge Anybody out there think they have a solution? We have to coat millions of these things. Thanks.

Malcolm Heaven
medical technology - Irvine, California


1999

A. How thick a coating do you need? How many pounds of these spheres do you plate in a year? We could look into it. We use another PVD with higher energy that helps adhesion.

Mandar Sunthankar
- Fort Collins, Colorado


1999

A. Malcom

Nickel is good since it is the universal "glue layer" that alloys with silver and forms a carbide. PVD chromium is probably better since it does not have the outgassing poblems of EN.

Donald M. Mattox
Society of Vacuum Coaters
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Ed. note:
            Mr. Mattox is
            the author of -->




2000

Q. Is it possible to achieve similar results to Tungsten Carbide plating by using the proper welding rod, if surface finish is not an issue.

Stacey J Walker
- New Iberia, Louisiana


A. Hi Stacey. I think that requires some clarification. At very best the idea of covering a tungsten carbide surface with some other metal by slathering it with welding rods of that other metal sounds highly impractical to me.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha



2001

Q. I've spent many a late night researching plating on your site and can say confidently that it is the most informative and liberal source of information I have found. I read that many others feel the same and I thank you for the time you selflessly dedicate to the requests of others.

I have one question for you and it does not include a plea for process or constituent. Is it possible in your experience to copper or nickel plate tungsten carbide?

I thank you for your time.

Dean T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Sydney, NSW, Australia


2001

A. Thanks so much for the kind words, Dean, they are really appreciated. But 'selfless' is way too strong -- this is my job, and although the posters don't pay for the postings or answers, we get revenue to run the site from our supporting advertisers and affiliate links :-)

Tungsten and other refractory metals can be plated, but only with substantial difficulty. Volume 5: Surface Engineering of ASM's Metals Handbook offers the methods.

I recognize that you actually asked about tungsten carbide. Transactions, vol. 66, page 144 (1988) has an article on "Nickel Electroplating onto Tungsten Carbide Powder", and the Shop Problems column in the July 1980 issue of Metal Finishing magazine describes an expired patent on anodic treatment at 1-5 ASI, 68-140 °F, 100-250 g/L sodium pyrophosphate to etch the surface before rinsing and nickel plating.

And we combined your posting with other threads on the subject which suggest that a Wood's nickel strike following anodic sulphuric acid etching, among other things, can work.

Caution! Be very careful in attempting to apply any technology to plating onto powder though (if that is your situation)! The huge surface area of powders can make the processes extremely active -- even explosive. Just as powdered metal can explode in air because of the high surface area, it can react in liquids far differently than a solid chunk of metal would. Best of luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



Nickel plating on WC alloy

2004

Q. I have a problem in nickel plating. Nickel plating on WC (Tungsten Carbide) alloy easily goes off from the surface. I'd like to know the possible reasons. The WC alloy includes some Cobalt (Co).

I would appreciate it if you could let me know some ways to have longer lifetime of the nickel plating on the WC alloy.

Hiroaki Yamasaki
Sales person - Osaka, Kinki, Japan


2004

A. The WC is inert ---the plating will sit on the surface but has no bond strength. The surface must be activated.

What is your cleaning / activation cycle.I have successfully coated Tungsten in the past but it is an involved activation process.

Allan Bennett
- Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


2005

A. What is your plating approach? What it temperature when nickel drops off?
I think there are tow possible reason. First one, nickel do not wet surface of Tungsten Carbide and second case thermal expansion coefficient of WC and Ni enough large.
I think you can solve problem if will add a little some salt for change wet character of nickel.
Or use any metal with nickel which thermal expansion coefficient placed between thermal expansion coefficient of WC and Ni.

Hayk
I Chemical Physics - Yerevan, Armenia



To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)



February 27, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. What is the best way to electroplate Nickel to Carbide? It also needs to adhere very well for the after process.

Rick Shornak
Plating shop employee - Novi, Michigan, United States


A. Hi Rick. We appended your inquiry to an earlier thread. I can't say what's "best", and have never done it, but it sounds like Wood's Nickel Strike after anodic sulphuric etching is a good method to try. Good luck.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha



April 3, 2012

Q. Can I use heat treatment for electroless nickel coating on WC-Co substrate to improve adhesion by solid state diffusion? Knowing that the process will involve heating and cooling.

Hassan Abdelkarim
PhD student - Johor-Malaysia



February 25, 2014

Q. I am using a woods Ni Strike to plate a 6% cobalt Tungsten Carbide.
After alkaline cleaning the parts are rinsed, and placed in 25% HCl, rinsed in DI water, then into the Ni strike.
Should the surface be activated using HCl or H2SO4 prior to the strike?

Following the activation, product is rinsed in DI water, then into the Nickel Chloride strike.
After the nickel strike we rinse in water, then into electrolytic Ni sulfate; following this rinse in DI water and then into electrolytic gold.
Should there be an activation prior to the electrolytic nickel and an activation following this prior to gold?

Rob Sachs
- Morrisburg Ontario Canada


February 27, 2014

Q. If you use H2SO4 as an etchant for Tungsten Carbide no current, what would be a recommended % and time?

Rob Sachs [returning]
- Morrisburg Ontario Canada


February 28, 2014

A. We just electroplated Ni and trivalent Cr onto steel parts with tungsten carbide inserts without any special activation steps. Everything came out perfect.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
PVD Consultant - San Diego, California



Depositing Copper onto Tungsten Carbide

October 13, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Greetings,

I am working on some prototyping efforts to make Tungsten/Tungsten Alloys more viable and economical as a material for firearm ammunition. It's unique characteristics, primarily strength and density, make it particularly well-suited compared to commonly used materials. Lead and Depleted Uranium are other "popular" materials with obvious environmental/health risks. The primary issue is that Tungsten is incredibly hard and very expensive. Making Tungsten barrels would be prohibitively expensive and standard steel barrels will wear out at a significantly faster rate.

Jacketing with a softer material is a common solution to this problem, however machining a jacket takes up space that could be the denser Tungsten. Depositing the copper via electroplating would be much better if possible. I am somewhat familiar with electroplating but have no prior experience with Tungsten, however online research shows it poses some unique challenges. I have AC/DC power sources and am willing/capable of working with some of the hazardous substances that are commonly used. My workspace is small and unsophisticated so particularly dangerous materials need to be avoided. I would prefer the safest method, with a reasonable batch cost (Not looking for manufacturing scale pricing, but can't spend thousands on prototypes), and I was wondering what my options are?

I would be working from Tungsten-Carbide powdered-sintered blanks for making machine tools. Unless I am unaware of a more suitable option. I am open to doing an intermediate plating like Nickel. As long as I can get at least half a thousandth of an inch this should be good enough for prototyping and testing. More would be better for testing. Thank you for your time and in advance for any input.

Best Regards,
Blake

Blake Adams
- Belleview, Florida


October 2020

A. Hi Blake. We appended your inquiry to a thread which indicates that, although it is difficult to plate onto tungsten and tungsten alloys, it is possible -- probably by following the aggressive activation methods described here and in the referenced ASM handbook, followed by a Wood's nickel strike, followed by copper plating.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


October 14, 2020

A. Hi Blake
Tungsten cored ammunition has been around for a very long time and is common. I have a .55 Boys at round marked 44 W for 1944 tungsten and .303 rounds with similar markings. None have been plated the tungsten penetrator being simply pressed into a standard cupro nickel jacket. In larger rounds, the APFSDS, Armout Piercing Fin Stabilised Discadding Sabot is a standard anti-armour round and does not itself contact the barrel.
You mentioned the possibility of a tungsten barrel. There are many reasons why that is impractical, not least weight although I know of stellite insert being used as a liner in the throat of a machine gun barrel to combat erosion at that point.
You may find useful information on current ammunition at https://ordnancesociety.org.uk/

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

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