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topic 1417

Activating stainless steel


One of my bosses said he had heard of a method to activate stainless steel by first plating with nickel, then stripping the nickel off. I tried to explain to him that chemical stripping invariably involves oxidation, which passivates the stainless. I told him I'd ask you guys anyway.... What do you think?

George Brackett III
- Oneida Silversmiths


While there are now much better ways to activate stainless steel (like a Woods nickel strike), I believe that platers may have used this technique to achieve a modest level of adhesion. Repeated plating and stripping followed by cathodic activation in some acid or caustic solution may change the surface of the steel the way a zincate- strip- zincate improves adhesion on aluminum. I don't know the mechanism, but it seems to work.

tom pullizi signature
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township, Pennsylvania

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