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"Grinding Electroless nickel on steel shaft"

March 10, 2010

Q. Hello:
I am a machine designer considering electroless nickel plating for a shaft. The shaft is about 6" diameter by 10" long with a flange on one end. The design is deflection driven, so we can easily accept low-carbon steel strength. Our customer has asked it be electroless nickel plated for mild corrosion prevention- and we need a hard (Rc60±) precision surface (8-16 micro-inch finish) for bearing bores to press onto and seals to ride on. If we did not need the flange plated for corrosion protection, we might just hard chrome the bearing seats and seal surfaces and then grind it after plating. Can we do something similar with electroless nickel- say plate on .003" and then bake it for hardness (Rc 60) and then grind it to finish size? Anyone with experience in a similar shaft application?

Any help is appreciated.

Greg Branch
Machine Designer / Engineer - Renton, Washington

March 13, 2010

A. You would probably just hone, not grind, the e-nickel. Otherwise, what you are proposing seems okay.

Jon Barrows
Jon Barrows, MSF, EHSSC
Independence, Missouri

March 22, 2010

A. It is not clear why you need such hardness. There are millions of applications where bearings seat and seals ride on bare steel surfaces w/o problems.
As-plated EN retains its full corrosion resistance and has a hardness around 50Rc, IMO very sufficient for applications as you describe. If you heat treat it, you will loose corrosion resistance.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


A. That may be an excellent point, Guillermo, but it might not be applicable in this case. While packaged bearings which include both inner and outer races can certainly go onto soft steel shafts, sometimes the balls/needles & seals ride directly on the shaft, which demands that it be hard.

Luck & Regards,

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

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