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"Electroless copper flash on zincate"


Q. Tell me about electroless copper. Can it be used as a flash over zincate prior to electrolytic nickel plating on aluminum?

Pete Faxon
- Oxnard, California


A. Sorry, Peter, I've personally never heard of that. But an alkaline electroless nickel strike prior to the electrolytic nickel plating should work fine.

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


Q. Ted,

You may not have heard about it, but will it work? I have no cyanide in my shop and my treatment system is not designed for it.

Peter Faxon [returning]
- Oxnard, California


thumbs up sign Sorry, Peter, I thought that when I said I've personally never heard of a process, I was implying that I can't answer questions about it :-)

I suspect that it will not work, because I suspect that zinc is not catalytic to electroless copper but, again, I don't know that for a fact.

Where and why would you need cyanide? What alternate cyanide-bearing process did you have in mind? If you're simply trying to eliminate cyanide in your shop, what is wrong with the alkaline electroless nickel strike which I previously suggested and which eliminates the need for cyanide by eliminating the use of cyanide copper?
Do you need copper on the parts for some reason? What are the parts, what are you trying to do? We ask that you please post details of your situation because it is so hard to productively reply to abstract questions where 90% of the situation is held in reserve, such that any answer requires endless ifs-ands-&-buts and usually leads to lost motion anyway :-)

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


A. Nickel Glycolate Strike

There, now in a few weeks, this letter should be picked up by finishing.com search engine, so I can find it when I need it.

Guide ASTM B253 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] Standard Guide for Preparation of Aluminum Alloys for Electroplating

Copyright 2001 AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING AND MATERIALS, West Conshohocken, PA. All rights reserved.

1. Scope

1.1 This guide covers cleaning and conditioning treatments used before metal deposition (Section 5), and immersion deposit/strike procedures (Section 6) that enhance the adhesion of metals that are subsequently applied to aluminum products by electrodeposition or by autocatalytic chemical reduction.

1.2 The following immersion deposit/strike procedures are covered:

1.2.1 Zinc immersion with optional copper strike (6.3).

1.2.2 Zinc immersion with neutral nickel strike (6.4).

1.2.3 Zinc immersion with acetate-buffered, nickel glycolate strike (6.5).

1.2.4 Zinc immersion with acid or alkaline electroless nickel strike.

1.2.5 Tin immersion with bronze strike (6.6). etc, etc.

tom pullizzi animated    tomPullizziSignature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania


A. Pete: Your concern seems to be about cyanides. What I don't understand is why do you want to have copper between aluminum and nickel. As Tom stated, there are several ways to prepare aluminum for electronickel plating that don't use cyanide in any form. I would go for a zincate followed by EN, then an acid nickel strike to activate EN, then straight to your conventional electrolytic nickel bath. Let us know about your outcome ... and good luck.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

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