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topic 2858

Nikasil nickel-silicon plating, what is it and how is it done?


Q. Please send me, for work in my school, information about composition of Nikasil coating bath. I am a Quimica [materials science] student.



A. I believe that you are referring to a proprietary, composite nickel/silicon carbide deposit.

This is a coating formed by nickel electroplating where silicon carbide particles are present in the bath, and co-deposit in the coating as the nickel is being electrochemically reduced at the surface of the part. You may want to start your research under the non-proprietary topic of composite plating.


tom pullizzi monitor
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township,


A. Hi, Heloisa. You may also wish to look at letter #1671 which will answer some of your questions, and includes further links to other threads on related subjects. Good luck.

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


Q.Having searched for many hours trying to find more information about the Nikasil treating process, we would like to know how exactly it is done and what equipment is needed to carry out the whole process. Any useful information would be appreciated.


Kyle C. [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
bicycle manufacturer - Ixopo, Natal South Africa


A. Hello, Kyle. Nikasil is a trademark (of Mahle, I believe), and you would need to contact the trademark holder if you wished to buy or license their process and trademark. But my understanding is that it is nickel-silicon plating: i.e., that silicon carbide particles are suspended in the nickel plating tank so that the particles are occluded into the coating as the plating takes place. Nickel-silicon plating processes and plating services are available from other companies as well.

If you wish to offer the service yourself, and not license it from anyone, you would need to learn how to do nickel plating, which you can research pretty easily, then you would need to figure out how to keep the particles properly in suspension, so that they are occluded into the deposit at the rate, and in the way, you wish. Possible ways to do this might include operating the plating solution as a fluidized bed, and/or adding thixotropic agents to the solution to slow the settling rate of the solid particles. This is the portion that tends to be trade secret, such that the knowledge has to either be bought or acquired through research & development. Best of luck.

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


Q. What is involved in Nikasil plating 2-stroke motorcycle cylinders? How long does the process normally take? Does all the original plating have to be removed? If anyone could walk me through the process I would appreciate it. I work in the Heat Treating Industry and I am getting quite curious about Nikasil platings. Thanks for any info I might receive.

Mike Toole
- Sapulpa, Oklahoma


Q. I would like to know what preparations are needed to a standard bore cylinder when I am just changing pistons, (honing?) The original surface seems to be in good shape and I'm adding a forged piston with chrome rings. Can I just do a normal deglazing like a cast iron cylinder and install it?Thanks for your help.

steve mcmillan
gautier Mississippi usa


A. It appears that there are many confusions about nickel/silicon carbide plating for automotive applications, particularly cylinder bores.

Fundamentally, it is probably the most beneficial process to be applied to small engine wear technology for many years. The process is not overly complicated, and results in a coating with properties of outstanding durability, oil retention and heat transfer characteristics which have combined to enable engine manufacturers to improve the performance of their engines and at the same time reduce weight and "bulk" of their product leading to emissions reductions and improved gas mileage.

My company is one of several companies around the world involved in this technology, and we are anxious to educate consumers and others about the process and it's applications.

Geoff Slater
- Auburn, Alabama

(2005) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am a small business owner that would be interested in possibly doing Nikasil plating for small engines. Can someone help me in finding out more, ie: what is involved, suppliers of the equipment, etc.
Any help would be appreciated, thanks in advance.

Ed Tetreault
hobbyist - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


A. Nikasil is a trademark of Mahle Corporation for nickel silicon carbide plating, but there are suppliers and shops offering nickel silicon carbide plating under different tradenames too. It is nickel plating with occlusions of silicon carbide incorporated into the plating by doing the plating out of a slurry of nickel plating solution and silicon carbide particles. If you are already familiar with nickel plating, the particles are what makes it different. If you're not yet familiar with nickel plating you would need to become acquainted with that steps involved in that first.

Plating, like surgery, is as much about knowledge and experience as about equipment (you don't buy a nickel-silicon plating machine as a catalog item, you buy 500 different items and build a nickel-silicon plating shop). So if your interest is enduring, you might want to join the American Electroplaters Society (, take a plating course from them or Kushner Electroplating School, and/or read a couple of books from our "must have" list.

Please be aware that the plating industry is very job shop oriented. So there are shops who would be pleased to nickel silicon carbide plate your engine components for you personally or for your business if desired. You can install plating capacity yourself if you wish, the point is simply that you don't necessarily have to.

Feel free to pose additional questions . . . and good luck!

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

April 2, 2012

Q. I am in the process to put in an Electroplated Nickel SiC (Nikasil) plant. I have got the correct Pre treatment and dispersing the correct particle powder SiC. The only thing I would like to know is what is the best way to to move the solution: air or eductors? but I think because of the Particle Powder that they will damage the pump and eductors, and does the Particle Powder desolve completely in the plating bath?


Willem Beneke
Sales Exec - South Africa

Ed. note: If you are licensing the Nikasil® process from Mahle, they will tell you everything you need to know, Willem. If you are not licensing it, please be careful to not call your process Nikasil as that is a registered trademark.

April 3, 2012

A. You really need a specification to work toward. If you want to call it Nikasil, you need to lease the procedure from the owner of the patent.
There is a lot that is not said in the patent or on line that can break your process.
Carbide does NOT dissolve. With proper agitation, it will go into a suspension. BIG difference.
You probably will want both. Air alone will not bring the material that is settled out on the bottom of the tank back into suspension.
You are correct that it will ruin most pumps despite being a very fine abrasive.
Look for a chemically resistant pump that is intended for abrasive solids. Progressive cavity and diaphragm pumps come to mind. They will both need maintenance, but you can replace parts rather than major components.

If you do start this up cold, let us know how you fared initially and after a couple of months.


James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

April 5, 2012

Q. Who do I contact to licence Nikasil?

Willen Beneke
- South Africa

April 6, 2012

A. Google "Mahle".


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

November 13, 2012

A. Hi!

I just would like to say to upcoming or potential Platers who would like to put in a line and plate a cylinders with Nickel with a SiC with it was lots of hard work and commitment. I just setup a line with great success.

Yes there were a few obstacles, but it is running absolutely beautiful. Remember it is a slow process and not to be rushed.



Willie Beneke
- South Africa

February 4, 2013







Private - South Africa
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
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October 11, 2014

Q. Dear Mr. Geoff Slater,

A very encouraging note from you. In India, my company is doing some manufacturing and some trading of Vespa spare parts, as well as restoring old Vespas. I am an automobile engineer, by qualification and have been in servicing of two wheelers - mainly Yamaha and Honda, in India for about 20 years . Now I have my own business for last 15 years.

My latest passion is to start a Nikasil plating unit.

Best regards


- New Delhi, India

November 26, 2014

A. Dear Mr Shangle DP,

Thank you for your kind words. In his comment in letter 6327, Mr Ted Mooney referred to several other threads on this subject that you may find useful.

In addition, you will be able to find a list of the type of equipment that you would need for your intended project at which I hope you, and others wanting to embark on a similar venture, will find useful.

Geoff Slater
- Auburn, Alabama, USA

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