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Cobalt vs Nickel plating on printed circuit boards

(-----) February 7, 2008

My name is Jerry Schmoyer. I make slot car controllers for small electric cars. I am interested in making resistor printed circuit boards vice wirewound resistors. I have boards made and ready to go but I am not sure about the wiping area of the board. I have tried home nickel electroplating. I have limited and inconsistent results for business production.

I would to plate the copper with a coating that will withstand the constant rubbing from the phosphor bronze button on the trigger/wiper. The copper itself will not last long so a plating is necessary. I am trying to decide whether to try an electroless nickel or cobalt bath system or find a place that can do it for me at a reasonable cost. I will have the boards made in quantity on 3 x 5 or 6 x 10 sheets. They will be cut down to size later.

I am reading that cobalt is harder than nickel but can't be plated as thick. Do commercial platers plate with nickel/cobalt in pure form or alloys?

Any help would be appreciated.


Jerry Schmoyer
Hobbyist/product designer - Downingtown, Pennsylvania

February 7, 2008

Contact surfaces of this sort are usually electroless nickel. Cobalt and cobalt alloys are a specialty which you would investigate for special circumstances but probably not for this application. Remember that alloys, for physical reasons having to do with how electricity is conducted, are poor electrical conductors.

Don't be sucked in by degrees and try to go into a plating business as an extension of a hobby or a graduation from a hobby. If you want to go into the plating business, that's fine; welcome to the industry. But recognize that going from plating parts for yourself to selling plated parts is like going from serving yourself out of the medicine cabinet to opening a pharmacy.

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

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