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topic 0732

Sulfur-free Brighteners for Nickel Plating


Q. Hi guys, I'm looking for information about types of brighteners for use on the Ni and Ni-P electrolytic plating system, I heard from some friends there are some types that contain sulphur (but this can cause me adhesion problems), I'm looking more on brighteners without sulphur. If you can give me information on the most recommended ones including their characteristics or contact me with someone who supplies them I really appreciate it, thanks in advance for your help.


Luis Moreno
captive plater - Jalisco, Mexico


A. Sulfur-containing brighteners for nickel are the most common ones and they do not cause adhesion problems. Sulfur free systems are used mainly for corrosion reasons. You can find brighteners at any supply house for the metal finishing industry.Sara

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


A. Luis:

Cobalt salts were very popular Ni brighteners in the old days, especially for barrel applications. I don't believe anyone sells them as brighteners anymore, but you can buy cobalt sulfate or chloride and use low concentrations (~.01 g/l, if memory serves) to get a brightening effect (not as strong as with organic ones). You need to experiment.

Sara is right, though, organic brighteners if used properly should not cause adhesion problems.

Good luck, Berl

berl stein
berl sig
"PlaterB" Berl Stein
NiCoForm, Inc.
supporting advertiser
Rochester, New York


December 17, 2008

A. Hi, folks. Although it's true that sulfur-bearing brighteners should not cause adhesion problems in normal circumstances, organic brighteners can cause blistering problems at very high temperatures. And I suppose you could call a blister an area of non-adhesion :-)

My understanding is that sulfamate nickel (no added brighteners) does not have this problem, and is a good high temperature solution.


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

Sulfur brightener in nickel plating may cause pitting in titanium nitride topcoat?

January 26, 2014

Q. We are doing titanium nitride & flash gold PVD coating on nickel plated brass and zinc parts. We are observing some sort of pitting corrosion on the components. Could you please suggest a brightener for nickel plating without sulphur?

Mani Bhat
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India

January 27, 2014

A. Hello Mani,
Acetylenic compounds for semi bright solutions are in wide use now. I am not a chemist so I can't give you formulations. Your best bet is to contact your Nickel bath supplier, and tell them what you need. They may have a brightener system that can be "slide converted" into your bath. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Malone, New York, USA

January 29, 2014

Q. Dear Sara,

Thanks for your input. Sulphur containing brighteners are widely used as nickel brighteners. I would like to know if sulphur free organic brightener can provide good grain refining and brightness so that corrosion can be reduced a little.

Your views please.

Mani Bhat
- Bangalore, India

January 29, 2014

A. Mani,
Sarah's response was to a question Luis had. Anyway, her advice and mine to contact your Nickel bath supplier would be your best bet.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Malone, New York, USA

Sulfur-free nickel plating brighteners

March 26, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We do nickel plating with sulfur containing brighteners. For trials we need a sulfur free brightener. Please give some inputs.

Ramasubbu Sanakra bhatter
- Bangalore, India

May 18, 2014

A. Dear Mr. Bhattar,

All bright Nickel plating additives are sulphur-containing. The brightness/luster is because of sulphur inclusion in deposit.

"Sulphur Free" Nickel deposit is semi-bright in its appearance and almost No sulphur. Due to this such deposit is passive and nobler than bright deposit. Sulphur free deposit forms a base coat in multi-Layered Nickel deposit, exhibiting higher corrosion resistance.

As far as I understand, commercially there is no such thing as sulphur free bright Nickel.


Dilip Thakur
- Mumbai India

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