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Alternatives to nickel strike


Seeking info on nickel striking and its alternatives. I am doing research on plating and striking alternatives in the finishing industry. I have found lots of information on cadmium and chromium plating and their alternatives, but nothing on nickel striking and whether it has alternatives. Any books, papers, users, experts known would be helpful.

S. Harris
National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence - Johnstown, Pennsylvania


I am still trying to locate sources for alternatives to nickel striking. I have spent 2 weeks doing on-line searches and have come up with nothing. Has anybody heard of someone looking into using iron or iron/nickel alloys as alternatives (or cobalt, cobalt/iron, or non-cyanide copper)? If anyone has any info at all, I'd appreciate it.

S. Harris
National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence - Johnstown, Pennsylvania


Hi, S.

Can you describe the product or application you would like to eliminate nickel striking from and why? Maybe it's jewelry and you're concerned about nickel itch? Maybe we can suggest an alternative for that specific application based on the substrate material, etc. The alternative may be wet or dry blasting, a cyanide-bearing strike (I'd much rather do vice-versa!), a gold or chromium strike (back to chromium again?), or a PVD coating (for line-of-sight applications).

I remember when rejected car/truck bumpers used to have to have their nickel stripped (in cyanide strippers), whereas now the nickel is simply activated with a nickel strike and another layer is plated. Donald Wood pioneered a stunning environmental advance by developing nickel strikes! So, while there may be applications where nickel striking is not a good idea, the last thing we should do is demonize such an awesome source reduction strategy.

Ideological searches for replacements can torpedo real environmental advances like the Wood's Nickel Strike; almost all such broad-based contextless studies, besides wasting taxpayer money, do more harm than good. Please describe the specific application you have in mind and maybe we can help. Thanks!

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


Nickel causes skin allergies and it is recommended for jewelry not to use nickel as an undercoat of gold. Tin-Copper is a good replacement. SARA

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


Yes, thank you, Sara; nickel plating should be eliminated from jewelry. But when we use the phrase 'nickel strike' we are not talking about jewelry or general nickel plating, we are talking about an activation procedure for stainless steel, refractory metals, and nickel and its alloys.

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


Has your research brought you across the two books by Fred Lowenheim, Electroplating and Modern Electroplating? They are both classics. One is simple and the other is a recap of nearly anything that was written at that time. One is out of print but they are talking about making another run. Contact the AESF for the latest.

Simply stated, there are reasons that for some applications, there is no practical alternative for nickel strike if you want the top coat to stay on. Of all the alternatives, copper is the closest used strike, but it can not be used in many applications because of ion migration or EMF and until recently, it had to be applied from a strong cyanide solution. Same for gold and silver. Cobalt is essentially the same as nickel and at this time it costs more than 5 times as much.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

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