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What water to use in Sulfamate Nickel plating bath?

May 20, 2010

Hello Everyone, thanks for all your information. My situation is this; we have a sulfamate nickel bath (350 gallons). We have some issues with evaporation. We have been using distilled water only to restore volume. I am very new, and not experienced with nickel plating. My question is, do we need to only use Distilled water, or can we use water from the city? Would a water test be necessary?
We have been buying the water every week or two (about 30 gallons every two weeks). We want to be able to just use water from our water hose. Is a filtration system necessary? Or do we need to purchase a small distiller? any information would be very much appreciated.


Heath Daniels
Prosthetic Mold Maker - Brandon, Mississippi, United States

First of three simultaneous responses -- May 20, 2010

Very very few places in the US have water that is good enough to add to a sulfamate bath on a long term basis.
The cheapest route is to buy an under the sink Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit which will produce adequate water if you are not in an area with terrible water. Follow the instructions and it will work well for a good period.
Next option would be to get a DI unit. A mixed bed unit would be best. The resin needs to be sent back for regeneration after it has been used for a while. Most units have a tank expired unit based on conductivity.
Distillation is the most expensive long term way to go.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Second of three simultaneous responses -- May 20, 2010

The choice of water would depend on how good your city water is. With city water I always had a problem with chloride and iron. It may be cheaper for you to contact a local water purification co. and inquire what it would cost to have a few de-ionizer tanks put in. If you're spending $60.00 per month on distilled water, you may find it easier and maybe cheaper to have the tanks put in. De-ionized water is customary to top plating tanks off. You don't need it for cleaners, etch baths or activation tanks. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York

Third of three simultaneous responses -- May 21, 2010

This is a good question, and the answer depends upon the quality of your tap water and whether or not you recover dragout or not. For example, a dragout recovery rinse used to replace evaporation from the plating tank will return all of the undesirable salts and brightener breakdown products to the plating tank. These can create plating problems if they become concentrated.

For this reason, most people use purified water for make up to the plating tank or for the dragout recovery rinse. That being said, you could use DI water from exchange tanks or disposable cartridges, or RO permeate for this purpose instead of distilled water if this is more convenient for you.

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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