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topic 4737

Standards for electroless-nickel plating

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Our company have an electroless-nickel spec that specifies a plating thickness range of .0003-.0007. We use this spec to plate threaded pipe adapters and is causing a lot of problems in terms of conformance to the minimum thread engagement allowable for pipe adapters.

We ran the numbers to see how the plating affects the final thread profile. It showed that with the additional plating, we should still be within the tolerance that we specified in our prints. But actual inspection of the parts tells us otherwise. The parts were tested for average plating thickness and they came in at around .0005. We could not figure out why the threads still fail when gaged with a plug or ring gage.

The plating is mainly used for aesthetic purposes. I would like to know if there is a standard for electroless-nickel plating that specifies a thinner plating range, preferably around a nominal value of .0001.

Sammy Ocampo
medical - Columbia, Maryland USA


It appears that you got exactly what you ordered.

You can get any thickness (plus or minus) that you want by specifying what you want on the purchase order--This would be listed as a specification change or modification.

If you go to less than 0.0003, none of the quality control portions of the specification will apply. You will have to specify that those are waived or which ones must be complied with. For instance, by going to 0.0001, you will have very close to zero salt spray resistance.

I think that you may be using the ID dimention on your thread. Remember, that both sides of the thread (ie, top and bottom) get plated so significantly affect the mating of the other part, dimentionally. some people that are tapping just use a taper tap and take it to the max. Others will reduce the thread from say a 85% to 75 %.

The final thing is looks, 0.0001 will not look as good as a 0.0005.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


We also have an electroless plating operation, and I too would like to know whether there is a specification, (industry, workmanship or other), for electroless nickel plating.

Joe Benz
sound technology - State College, Pennsylvania


I only have one question and one question only: is there a standard for Electroless-Nickel Plating? If there is a standard, please let me know what is it.

Susan [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
steering systems - Canada


If you type "electroless nickel" into the search box at you will see that there are more than a hundred standards for electroless nickel, Sue.

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

September 17, 2010

How do you select a thickness for an electroless nickel plating? We will be plating new machined magnesium parts. We care about corrosion protection, abrasion resistance, lubricity. From what I've read it looks like anything from .0003" to .003" is commonly done but that's a pretty wide range.

Elaine Bogue
optics - Nashua, New Hampshire

September 20, 2010

Depending on how severe the application is, most people will get by with 0.001 to 0.0015. Less than the 1 thou and corrosion resistance is frequently poor.
2 thou is a very good number, but it costs more and may not be necessary. As you approach 3 thou, problems start to arise in many plating shops. It basically takes special chemistry to get higher than 3 thou.(and that normally is very expensive)

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

March 2, 2011

This may not make sense but I'll try my best to explain. The plating builds up on the 30° face of a given thread. The mating thread however can't move perpendicular to the thread face, it has to move axially inward (or outward depending of if you're plating the male or female thread). This inward movement can be solved as the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle where the angle is 30 deg and opposite side is the nominal plate thickness. The inner movement is therefore twice the plating thickness.

To sum it up a plated pin needed to be made 2x plating thickness undersize and a thread needs to be made 4x plating thickness undersize to work.

Jonathan Staples
- Coquitlam BC, Canada

April 18, 2013

Q. Please advise how many micron of Electroless Nickel plating are required to pass below test:

Thermal Cycling Test [-40 °C ~ +85 °C] Damp Heat Test [+85 °C / 85% RH - 1000 Hrs]

Gandhi Govindarasu
- Singapore

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