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EN Plating, and choosing 7075 vs 6061

April 22, 2008

I am working for a precision machining industires for about 20 years. I have a couple of question to seek your advices. Hopefully you can provide me so that I be convince and do my work diligently.
1. Aluminum 6061 T6 for Electroless Nickel plating.
What is the advantage over a smooth surface? Currently, we machine the outer diameter of 20 mm with a diamond insert cutter to have a smooth surface of 0.003 mm and that should be good enough to ensure a smooth surface for roller tape running through. However we have to finish with an EN plating of 0.003 to 0.005mm over the surface.
2. With the introduction of new requirement by our customer to use Aluminum 7075 grade. What are the differences between the 2 types of Aluminum when plated. Will they provide the same hardness on the plated surface? And what other changes may affect?
We do not wish to increase the cost of fabrication by using the 7075 over the 6061 Aluminum.

Palmer Ng
operations manager - Singapore

April 22, 2008

Hi, Palmer. It sounds like you are saying "tell us why we designed our product the way we did, because we don't know" :-)

Obviously, that would be hard to answer from this distance. But I suspect that the reason the component is electroless nickel plated is not for smoothness but because the "roller tape running through" would otherwise cause excessive wear (electroless nickel is a very good wear surface, whereas bare aluminum is not).

Type 7075 aluminum is high strength and significantly harder than 6061 and I suspect that the wear characteristics of the plated surface might be better. Whether the hardness of the substrate can influence the wear on the plated surface depends on the loading (if the substrate deforms under the load at all, the wear life of the plated surface is reduced). The plating process would not be much different. Good luck, and please clarify if I misunderstood your questions.


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

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