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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Adhesive bonding to electroless nickel

Q. Is electroless nickel inherently difficult to adhesively bond? What parameters affect bond strength?

Our company recently experienced an adhesive bond failure to electroless nickel. The adhesive separated cleanly to the electroless nickel surface, which was previously abraded with 400 grit sandpaper.

James R. Myers
Tucson, Arizona

A. It can be tough to glue to EN as it is very smooth. A slightly used sandpaper, even a good one, will not abrade as well as a new one. A long time ago, we had a problem trying to mask a SS part. When it was baked at 400 °F for a half hour, the tape stuck very well. You might try it. You might try 320 and 280 wet and dry sandpaper to see if it might work better and establish a "QC" check for how well it is roughed up vs. failures.

James Watts
Navarre, Florida

A. Loctite makes an adhesive that bonds well to EN. Unfortunately I don't know the specific product.

Todd Osmolski
Charlotte, North Carolina

Gluing Stainless steel to chrome/copper/alloy plate

Q. I have a 3" stainless steel plate I'm gluing to the back of 12" diameter brass disks plated in either chrome, simulated rose gold or simulated gold (probably some kind of copper zinc alloy?) for a motor shaft to attach to. This is for an art piece which is rotating very slowly (~7 RPM) so no substantial forces or acceleration to speak of.

My problem is that no matter what glue I use it always eventually falls off. I've tried superglue, epoxy, gorilla glue. It's not that the plating is coming off, but I tried sanding off the plating anyway but it made no difference. I tried scuffing up the stainless steel plate - it's quite hard to scratch so the scratches were pretty superficial but it still didn't help.

What am I doing wrong?

A Sabeti
- San Francisco, California
February 29, 2024

3M Structural

on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi A. If there are bearings involved which are causing a misalignment, the adhesive would be pulled apart over time, starting at the edge of the disk, but if there is nothing forcing a misalignment, I don't understand what is causing this problem.

Over-the-counter epoxy [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] should work, but there are structural adhesives that hold airplanes together, which you can try. Follow the instructions, but generally you wipe the surfaces with acetone [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] before applying the adhesive. If you decide to try structural adhesives remember that you need to buy the applicator, not just the cartridge.

Luck & Regards,

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

simultaneous replies

A. It is a question of surface energy and wettability and the problem is common. One solution is to expose the surfaces to a plasma for a few minutes just before gluing. Of course, the surfaces should be free of dust, grease, oil, etc,. before exposing to plasma. Two types plasmas can be used:
1. A low temperature plasma jet which may use gases like helium, argon etc.
2. A low pressure plasma in a vacuum chamber. Here low pressure air is used to generate a plasma.
Such machines are commercially available.

H R Prabhakara
- Bangalore Karnataka India

3-M Structural
Double-sided Tape

on eBay or


(affil links)

A. For the low load application like your piece seems to be, you could try some structural adhesive double-sided tape, specifically 3-M VHB double sided tape ⇨
They use this stuff to join panels in the automotive industry so it will be well and truly good enough for your purposes. Additionally you may be able to contact the manufacturer about getting them to cut you some shapes that fit your application better than a strip does, they also make certain sized rounds as stocked items.

The thing with adhesives, just like in plating, cleanliness is next to godliness, if the substrate is not clean expect problems with adhesion.

Andrew Speer
- Ballarat, Australia

thumbs up sign Thanks, Prabhakara. Thanks, Andrew.

I didn't think of double-sided tape, didn't even realize it was available in structural adhesive grades. And now I see that it's even available in 80 mm disc shape which sounds perfect for A's 3-inch diameter plate.

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

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