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Nickel plating cost calculation

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Q. I am an employee in a company. I want a general example for nickel plating initial cost.

rishi kumar
- delhi india
August 9, 2023

A. Hi Rishi, Realistically, the way this is done is the same as other costing situations from the repair of your car suffering a strange noise, to the installation of a swimming pool: you go to 2 or 3 or even more shops with the specific parts in question and get a quote.

The reason is that there are both obvious and subtle factors that affect the cost dramatically. For most businesses the largest single cost is labor. If the parts in question can be figuratively shoveled into plating barrels for bulk processing, those labor costs can be very low; if the parts in question must be racked one at a time into exact orientations with multiple spring clips that could easily require 10X or 20X as much labor.

If the parts in question are in any way cup shaped, it could be that there is no single orientation which will both not trap air and allow full drainage. Plus there is the question of whether I.D. plating is required, how thick the plating must be, etc. Personally, I've never once seen a guide book, or "fake book" on this subject in a whole career in plating.
Luck & Regards,

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

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. I am looking for cost information to compare the operating costs of an electrolytic nickel sulfamate plating as compared to electroless autocatalytic nickel phosphorus process. The application is depositing 1 mil thickness on a flat sheet.

I am interested in as much data as possible including electricity consumption, metal costs, replenishment costs, etc., but I'll take as little as a cost per mil sq. ft.

Steve Dolan
- Providence, Rhode Island, USA

A. Steve:

Despite the fact that sulfamate nickel is perhaps the most expensive nickel bath, it is going to be much less expensive than EN (as much as six times). Once the bath is set up, the main direct expenditures are nickel anode pellets (around $10.00 USD/lb) and electricity (chicken feed as it's almost 100% efficient to theoretical 20 amp-hr per mil/sq-ft). You are not supposed to use large amounts of brighteners and the like in these baths. Another factor is labor and technicians to take care of the expensive investment. The bath operates at moderate temperature of some 45 °C.

On the other hand, EN has different properties and has to be considered only when electrolytic methods are not suitable. We have figured that $0.02 USD/mil/sq. inch is rock bottom total cost for us (chemicals, energy, labor and waste treatment).

With it's temperature of 90 °C it's also one of the hottest baths of the industry (near boiling) and the dump process is not simple nor cheap.

Hope to have helped.


Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Cost of Bright Nickel Plating in Quantity

Q. We are manufacturing a new component. The component will be made of brass, is roughly cylindrical in shape, and has a diameter of approximately 1.5 inches. The surface area is approximately 5.5 square inches. The surface finish will be mass finished to approx. 10 RMS, and the resulting bright nickel-plated surface will have to be jewelry-quality, and so we cannot have any part on part impingement during plating. The component has a hole through which the part could be wired.

This is the first part that we will have plated, and so we do not have much experience with plating costs. We will be producing the component in batches of 2500, and having them delivered for plating somewhere in California. We have not selected a plater, but have been quoted a per piece price that seems high. We are looking for feedback on what would be a reasonable per-piece price for bright nickel plating (normal thickness).

Thank you.

Mark Johnson
Machine shop - Los Angeles, California, USA

simultaneous replies

A. Platers are just like machine shops, they charge what the market will bear, or they go out of business. Where ever you connect (hang) the part there will be a contact mark. In most cases there will be a slight cosmetic difference because of the hanger robbing some of the plate. Options are very specialized racks which add to the cost. You may be able to find a less expensive plater by getting out of California because your environmental laws are tough.
Normally, when you go to a cheap plater you will get a cheap product or lots of rejects. Shop for plating services as quality , delivery and price will normally be quite different from city to city. Have some sample parts plated before you bet the farm on quality.
PS, there is no such thing as a universal "normal" thickness of bright nickel. You need to specify what you want after you figure out what that thickness needs to be for your part.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

A. I'm not sure you will be able to get a "jewelry" finish after media finishing to 10 RMS, but then I don't know just what "jewelry" means to you. I also don't know what you mean by "normal" nickel thickness. It may well be that the platers who have quoted this job are hesitant because it's difficult to understand exactly what you want, and what they will have to do to get there, and so they have added a "fudge factor" to their prices. I expect if you give the platers a little more direction, say by showing them a before and after sample, they will understand better, and you may get better pricing. That said, a straightforward .0005" bright nickel plating job on these parts (and I don't know exactly what they look like) would probably cost something around $1.50 to $2.00 ea.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

A. If you've had more than 1 quote and they're similar prices then that should tell you something. If you've only had 1 quote then get some more.

John Martin
- Cardiff

A. Retail jewelry is typically marked up 600%, it is quite a racket. So if you are not getting overcharged you are not getting a true jewelry quality.You may want to reword your plating requirements and get new quotations.

Todd Osmolski
- Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Nickel plating cost questions

Q. I am having a bit of challenge with a nickel plating surcharge. My plater is
applying surcharge to my entire finishing project for the recent increases in nickel cost.

I am trying to quantify the amount of nickel in the project. I know the surface area of my parts and am trying to get an idea of the average thickness. Is .0005" reasonable? it is a project that is plated for aesthetic reasons then gets a clear powder coat for corrosion resistance.

Are there losses in the plating process or is all the consumable applied to the part?

BTW after my plater said "I can charge you whatever I want", I'm looking for another.

Thanks in advance,

Robert Langelius
display industry - Long Island City, New York

A. 0.0005" is reasonable when on the purchase order. What thickness, grade or class was specified per FED-QQN-290 (replaced by AMSQQN290) , ASTM B689....?
Substrate material, any copper underplating, buffing, special racking, unusual geometry, electrolytic or electroless nickel, adhesion baking, etc. all affect pricing. Usually, labor & overhead (utilities, environmental) cost much more than the plated metal. The current price of nickel is > $19/pound, triple that 3 years ago, so a surcharge can be justified.

A price is reasonable if borne by the market w/o engendering more suppliers. Fair if equal quality work is unavailable elsewhere for lower total cost.

Ken Vlach [deceased]
- Goleta, California
contributor of the year honored Ken for his countless carefully researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your hard work which the finishing world, and we at, continue to benefit from.

A. Ken,
As of last Friday, the large nickel distributors were quoting $22-$24/lb plus an up charge if it was less than a can. A nickel surcharge is definitely indicated or just a higher price for plating.

Gene Packman
- Great Neck, New York

A. You also may talk to some of the other plating shops that do nickel plating. Some shops are now using a nickel/steel mixture to help abate the cost of nickel.

Gregg Matti
- Hampton, Georgia, USA

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. I want to know the formula to calculate cost of nickel plating of thickness 25 microns per sq.inch......thanx.

Sanjay Bahl
sheet metal production; powder coating ; electroplating - Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

A. Dear

I do not think it is that difficult. First get Material cost. This you can get by Area X Thickness X density of Nickel X cost per unit weight of Nickel. (Ni plating will have high efficiency). Then add cost of electricity which you can know by Volts and Amps and time to plate. Add machine hour rate of Nickel bath which can be calculated including Nickel anodes, chemical, operator's cost. If you wish you can add cost of consumables like water and emery or sandpaper you may use. Did you add cost of fuel or heating the liquid? If you now add administrative cost, depreciation and profit you desire, you should not be too far from exact answer. Good luck.

Electroforming - Ahmedabad, India

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Q. I'm trying to calculate the amount of nickel deposited on a zamak part in a Watts bath barrel operated, so I did the following steps:

1) Measure the area of the part
2) Measure the weight of each piece
3) Calculate the weight of the load (inside the barrel)
4) Calculate the total area from the total weight
5) Measure the DC during operation (varies so I use an average, I don't have an amp-hour meter just an DC clamp)
6) From the total area, current, time calculate amount of nickel from Nickel (grams)=Z*Q estimated efficiency 95%


1) Is this procedure correct?
2) Smaller parts have more area but draws less current, is that ok? what I'm missing?


Daniel Hernandez
plater - Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
August 24, 2010

A. At 100% efficiency nickel electroplates 1.095 grams per ampere-hour, so at 95% efficiency this is 1.04 grams per ampere-hour. At 95% efficiency, it also takes 20 ampere-hours per square foot to plate a thickness of 0.001".

So, if you know the amperage and the time, you can calculate the mass of nickel plated, and from the surface area, you can also calculate the average thickness.

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland Heights, Ohio

thumbs up sign Thanks!

Daniel Hernandez [returning]
- Bucaramanga Santander

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