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Chemical Nickel Plating

Q. Good Morning,

My company is being asked to supply a fastener with the following nickel plating requirement: Chemical Nickel Plating, 5-10 microns thick that must withstand a salt spray requirement of 168 hours prior to red rust. The Mfgr. of the fastener in Taiwan is telling me that they cannot meet this thickness or salt spray requirement. Can anyone tell me if this requirement is reasonable and commonly met in the States of Asia? Will a common or commercial grade nickel plating meet this salt spray? If not, what will it normally meet? Is chemical nickel plating different than electroless nickel plating or electrolytic nickel plating? As you can tell, I am not an expert when it comes to nickel plating and would greatly appreciate any assistance that anyone could offer.

Thank you very much,

Joe Petruziello
- Cleveland, Ohio

A. I'd call for clarification, but I'd start with a high phosphorus electroless nickel.

James Totter
James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida


A. Salt spray protection is very dependent on the surface condition of the basis metal. If the surface is rough or pitted, it would be difficult or impossible to meet the salt spray requirements without electropolishing or chemical polishing -- costly procedures. If the surface is smooth, high phosphorus Electroless (chemical) Nickel would meet the requirements. Nickel is not sacrificial to steel, thus the surface must be pore free to protect.

don baudrand
Don Baudrand
Consultant - Poulsbo, Washington
(Don is co-author of "Plating on Plastics" [on Amazon or AbeBooks affil links]
           and "Plating ABS Plastics" [on Amazon or eBay or AbeBooks affil links])

"Electroless Copper and Nickel-phosphorous Plating"
by Sha, Wu, & Keong

on AbeBooks

or Amazon

(affil links)

A. Hi Joe. Yes, chemical nickel is electroless nickel plating. Chemical nickel is not electrolytic nickel plating. 5-10 microns is certainly not a heavy plating and should be readily available even in countries which offer only shoddy plating.

But everything James and Don have said is correct: 168 hours can be obtained on a "good" substrate, but cannot be reliably achieved on a poor substrate.

Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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