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Nickel plating blisters and peels off of steel parts

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Q. Hi sir,
I am a hardware manufacturer in Pakistan and doing Watts bright nickel electroplating on mild steel sheet metal parts and now facing a problem of bubbles appearing during electroplating process of copper sulphate [on eBay or Amazon affil link]and bright nickel plating(Vat). I am sharing the picture, kindly help me with the problem.


My process sequence is:
Acid pickling
Periodic Electro-cleaning
Cyanide Copper Plating
copper sulphate Plating
Bright Nickel Plating
Bright Chrome Plating

Adil Mehmood
- Gujranwala, Pakistan
January 16, 2022

A. Hello Adil. When you have large blisters like that, probably the first thing to do is to peel some of them off and examine the underside of the blisters and what is left on the substrate because it can immediately narrow down the problem.
• If you see copper on the blister and steel on the substrate, the problem is probably cleaning or activation.
• If you see copper on the blister and copper on the substrate, the problem is likely in copper striking.
• If you see nickel on the blister and copper on the substrate, the problem is probably in copper plating.
• If you see nickel on the blister and nickel on the substrate, the problem may be interrupted nickel plating.

Luck & Regards,

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

RFQ: I'm facing peeling issues. It's a new Watts bath with brightness added. I'm adding a layer of Diamond, then overplating to secure Diamond I've been doing this process a long time and never had a issue this bad. Please phone me.

david mcnally
plating director - ft wayne indiana
June 20, 2022
    privately respond to this RFQ   ^
Ed. note: As always, gentle readers: technical replies in public and commercial replies in private please (huh? why?)

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. My base material is mild steel; the part name is "iron cover".
Process Nickel-Chrome.
In front all the degreasing process, then to semi bright nickel and bright nickel and then chrome.
Every 100 pieces there is 2 to 5 pieces has bubble and peel off.
Does current tripping cause the bubble & peel off?
We have checked every process and chemical; all are in good condition.
Please help and advise us.

Chen Yin Yin
Lab Eng. - Johor, Malaysia

A. Yes, current interruptions can cause the nickel to go passive, and result in "laminar" plating. But I think inadequate cleaning may be a more likely cause. Peel the blister off and look at what is underneath it on the substrate. If it is nickel plating then you have laminar plating, and current interruption is a possible cause; if it is plain steel, look at the cleaning process. Good luck.

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

A. Dear Friend,

If you getting peel off kindly let me know from which layer you are getting that. By using copper sulphate solution you can determine whether the peel off is from base metal or not. If from base metal then it is cleaning problem. If not, check the additives. Additives imbalance can also lead to peel off between SB and bright.

If you want to prevent passivation between nickels make the water rinse after semi bright acid to ph 4.

That may help you


S.V. Aurobind
plating process supplier - Bangalore, India

A. Is it barrel or rack plating? This could be important in identifying the cause of your problem

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

A. Hexavalent chrome contamination in nickel bath is one of the major causes for bubbles and blisters. Normally the bubbles start from the component loaded in the bottom of the rack. You can check the hexavalent chrome contamination in your nickel bath and do reduction treatment.

P. Kumba
- Bangalore, India

Plating peels off pipe rollers after 5 months

Q. Dear Sir,

In my project nickel plating in done on pipe. Rollers are rolling over pipe.

After 5 months plating in peeling off. Is there any solution to avoid peeling off nickel from pipe?

Best regards,

Manikandan Ganesan
automation - Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India
June 24, 2013

A. Hi Manikandan. It sounds like the actual problem is that the pipe rollers are soft steel, and after months of use & abuse, they are getting dings. An eggshell is hard, but with nothing to back it up it cracks and falls apart.

But you can try various adhesion tests before shipment including both formal ones like thermal cycling, and less formal ones like chiseling. I think the quickest and easiest spot test will be to whack the nickel plated pipe with a sledgehammer and see what happens: the nickel plating should not flake off.


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

Q. With steel components we get peeling off from substrate. This is happening at one end of the flight bar at one jig only, the other 90% of components are okay.

R C Sharma
- Ludhiana, Punjab, India
November 19, 2013

A. Hi Sharma. I think there is a bad electrical connection to this jig.


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

Laminar nickel plating on bicycle sprockets

Q. We are facing layer to layer peel off problem in our rotomatic nickel plating plant. The component is bicycle chain wheel.

Arjun Soni
- Ludhiana (pb) INDIA
March 14, 2015

Q. I encounter peeling/flake within Ni structure. Only 3 frames out of 10000 frames affected. Within those 3 frames only 2 to 3 columns are affected (location not consistent). The part has gone through 3 Nickel tanks. In between the tanks, we have Nickel shower. Wonder what might has cause the peeling?

swa beng hooi
- petaling jaya selangor
June 19, 2020

A. Hi Swa. If only 3 plating racks out of 10000 were affected, it sounds to me like poor contact in one of the nickel plating tanks. A thickness test might possible confirm that no plating or partial plating occurred in one of them.

If there is no nickel plating adhering to the part in the blister area, however, that might indicate improper cleaning; it sounds unlikely in 3 racks out of 10000 unless there was some strange exposure condition like a silicone spray used in the area.


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

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