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Formula for electroless nickel plating solution

A discussion started in 2002 & continuing through 2017 -- add your Q to bring it back to the Hot Topics page.


Q. I'd like to find out the exact prescription (components) for electroless nickel plating bath on steel (common, no special alloys). The layer has to ensure protection against corrosion. A layer about 8 to 10 microns is enough. Is somebody so kind to help me with this information?

Thank you in advance.

Nico Gaman
- Nuenen, Holland


A. Hi Nico. While you'll find some antiquated formulas in the early literature about electroless nickel plating from the 1950s and 1960s, electroless nickel formulas today are for all practical purposes proprietary. In other words, no user formulates them from basic compounds, they buy it from one of the many suppliers to the plating industry. That way you get a solution that works, you get full operating instructions (technical data sheet), and you get analytical help.

You may already realize this, but plating jobshops are available which offer the service as well. Good luck.

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

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition.


Q. Hi-

I'm a graduate student in Physics at N.C. State University and I'm looking for a chemical formula for a electroless nickel plating bath. I'm working with a catalyst that is specific to phenethyltrimethoxysilane, non lead.


Garon Ashby
North Carolina state university - Raleigh, North Carolina

simultaneous (2005)

A. I'll bet you would find many formulas for electroless nickel in a good university library...I assume NC State has a good library and a grad student can use it?

James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida


A. You are in the realm of current technology and therefore most of the formulations are proprietary. You might try to research patent information for general information. Otherwise search the web for technical articles. Probably you will need to develop your own formula.

Good Luck

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition.

October 29, 2011

Q. Hello,
My name is Maryam Kheiri. I am a university student and I am searching for the formula for electroless nickel, but I can't find it.
I need a complete procedure for using this method.
Thanks a lot

Maryam Kheiri
student - Iran

simultaneous November 7, 2011

A. The manufacturers of electroless nickel plating solutions have spent many years and dollars developing the technology.

You won't get the information free here or anywhere else.

Pay them, or invest the years and dollars yourself.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
      South Carolina

November 7, 2011

A. There are many books on that subject, in fact any better contemporary plating handbook must have chapter on electroless plating. If you speak russian there is russian website where you can download (free) some old old ex-USSR books on that subject ( Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

ASM Metals Handbook
Vol. 5
Surface Engineering

Modern Electroplating
Schlesinger & Paunovic

December 11, 2011

A. Obviously there are basic (generic) formulations for those baths they can be found in literature ASM handbook #5, Modern Electroplating by Schlesinger & Paunovic, and especially there is a book dedicated to that type of bath is on this site on the "must have" books list.

The best idea is to buy them not only for the authors dedication to develop these tasks, but also because it needs a wider understanding of the process equipment which is not covered having the formulation.

But if that is not possible please let me know and I will send you some formulations for them.

Daniel Hernandez
- Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia

December 18, 2011

A. In this system you need nickel sulphate, sodium hypophosphite, and additives
For example :
100 lts bath make up, you need:
3 kgs nickel sulphate
3.750 kgs sodium hypophosphite
6 kg additive

Is this enough from me?

Dr Halim Polat
- Istanbul, Turkey

December 24, 2011

Q. Thanks for your help, but as you know I live in Iran. I can't get information so easy and fast and I really need a complete procedure. I ask some people here but they sell their information very expensively and I can't pay for them.
So I need your help, thank you/

Maryam Kheiri
- Iran

December 30, 2011

A. Mr/Mrs

Electroless nickel has several steps.

But before that:
What kind of substrate is the one you want to plate?

If it is plastic it needs an etching step which is done in a concentrated solution of chromic acid plus sulfuric acid

It works fine for ABS plastic but the other types of plastic I do not know; literature says PVC and others can be plated ok, but the best is ABS.

And then the surface must be rendered conductive.

If it is a conductor, well here are basic bath formulations --

acid baths using sodium hypophosphite
nickel chloride 30 gr/litre
sodium hypophosphite 10 gr/litre
hydroxyacetic acid 35 gr/litre
pH 4-6
temperature 100 °C
nickel chloride 30 gr/litre
sodium hypophosphite 10gr/liter
sodium citrate 12.6 gr/liter
sodium acetate 5 gr/liter

pH 4-6
temperature 100 °C

There also are alkaline baths

Also you can find different reducing agents like sodium borohydride, and dimethylamine borane and hydrazine.

Daniel Hernandez
- Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia

January 27, 2012

A. nickel sulphate 40 g/l
sodium hypophosphite 26 g/l
succinic acid 50 g/l
temp 85-95 °C

Daniel Hernandez
- Bucaramanga Santander Colombia

February 5, 2015 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Dear sir
What is the ratio of electroless nickel in sodium succanate, sodium citrate, hypo, nickel salt per lt?
And how to make activator with silver?

sunil jain
- mumbai mharastra.india

February 2015

A. Hi Sunil. We appended your inquiry to this thread where some of the answers you seek are already available. Good luck.

But please provide us the background of who you are and what you are trying to do because otherwise the answers provided can be misleading. For example, in general, individuals don't formulate such solutions from raw chemicals, they buy them as proprietaries -- but we don't know if you already know that.

If you are a PhD student though, you may want to play with these solutions in the lab anyway as a matter of research. If you are a plating shop, most of us would consider it wasteful to make expensive solutions that will not yield enough turnovers because they do not contain the carefully developed proprietaries.

Silver based metallizing solutions based on the Brashear process and similar mixes of silver salts and reducing agents can perhaps be used for your application (you haven't told us what it is), but it may be a poor idea and it is not the most common route to metallizing materials for subsequent electroless nickel deposition. Best of luck.


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

October 16, 2015

Q. Is there some sequences in adding constituents (stabilizers, complexing agent, ...) in order to make electroless nickel bath?

Mohammad reza
TUW university - Vienna, Austria

October 17, 2015

A. Hi Mohammad,

The rule of thumb is to add everything first (reducing agent, pH buffer, stabilizer, etc.) prior nickel sulfate.


David Shiu
- Singapore

July 7, 2017

Q. Dear Sir,
I am a Chemical Engineering student and I have to do a project on electroless nickel plating. I would like to know if there is a formula for a medium nickel-phosphorus solution in order to plate 4140 steel. I have not decided on a thickness yet.
Could you please let me know what are the proportions of the components of the bath and the amount of area this quantity is able to plate?
If anyone could help me I would really appreciate it as I am a student and can't afford to buy this information from a supplier in the industry.

Maria Gomez
Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

July 2017

A. Hi Maria. Although there are technologies that are "licensed" such that you buy the knowledge, and there are also consultants who can sell you the knowledge, in electroless nickel plating you generally "buy the process", i.e., the seller provides their products by the gallon, with the necessary instructions.

But if you still want to make your own solution, start with any of the formulations shown on this page, and ask detailed followup questions if necessary regarding the answers already offered. Repeating the opening question 18 postings later, with a few new qualifiers like 4140 steel and mid-phosphorus probably isn't the best way forward. Good luck.

As for how long the bath will work, understand that however much nickel you want to put on the parts had to come from the bath. So if you are doing a generic formula capable of only "one metal turn-over", the amount of nickel in the make-up tells you the maximum amount of nickel you could possibly plate out from it. Have a good project!


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

July 8, 2017

A. Hi Maria
Electroless nickel processes are not as simple as the published formulations suggest. You could waste a lot of time and money on chemicals and detract from your main project.
I would suggest that you approach the suppliers of established processes and explain your situation.
You will probably find them very helpful. Remember that today's poor student could be tomorrow's major buyer

geoff smith
Geoff Smith

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