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topic 57929

Formula for electroless nickel plating solution

Current question:

November 18, 2020

Q. Hi all,
Like a weirdly large number of other commenters in this thread, I'm a graduate student trying to make an electroless nickel bath for some small scale jobs. I worked in the plating industry for a couple years and you all saved my butt a few times (and made me look very competent despite being so green) so I figured this is the best place to ask.

I'm plating on plastic using ASTM B727-04 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] and the palladium/tin chloride seeding method. Our plastics are special proprietary blends but I've already done the legwork to develop the etching process.

My final plating solution is an alkaline sulfate EN bath that uses sodium hypophosphite as a reducing agent and tetrasodium pyrophosphate + triethanolamine as stabilizers (and pH control). It goes extremely slowly or not at all at temps around 40 °C but activates and plates beautifully at 50 °C. The problem is that it plates out extremely fast (<15 minutes). I'm trying to get 100 microns of plating so that's not going to work.

Before I start to play with the temperature and reducing agent concentrations, I was wondering if anybody had any insight on some additives or techniques that could help with this. I know the simple answer is to buy a proprietary solution, but I'd like to try with the chemicals I have before getting my boss to buy premade stuff.

Thanks everybody!

Brandon Hacha
- Madison, Wisconsin
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Previous closely related Q&A's starting in:


Q. I'd like to find out the exact recipe (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
^- Reply to this post -^


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

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)


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
^- Reply to this post -^

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
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 search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)

affil. link
ASM Metals Handbook Vol. 5: "Surface Engineering"
from Abe Books

or see our Review

affil. link
"Modern Electroplating
Schlesinger & Paunovic"

from Abe Books


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
^- Reply to this post -^

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
Spartanburg, 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 (www.galvanicrus.ru/). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

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
^- Reply to this post -^

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
^- Reply to this post -^

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, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - 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
^- Reply to this post -^

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
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
^- Reply to this post -^

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
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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
Hampshire, England

June 18, 2019 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am trying to make an electroless nickel plating bath.
composition of the bath:
Nickel sulfate, sodium hypophosphite plus C2H5NO2 as an Accelerator and C6H5NA3O7 as complexer and CH4N2S as stabilizer. as soon as I add the sodium hypophosphite to nickel sulfate solution there is precipitation which is insoluble in water.
Any idea about this issue?
Your advice is highly appreciated.

Hamid Askar
- Austin,Texas, USA
^- Reply to this post -^

June 30, 2019

A. I had the same experience, I sourced the sodium hypophosphite from abroad because it's very hard to get in the USA (it's a controlled substance used in the synthesis of illegal drugs) and I got the same result as you did; I gave up trying to make my own formula. The good news is that there are USA-based providers that sell the electroless nickel plating solutions separately (Solutions A, B and C), the solution A is just Nickel Sulfate (20 grams per litter of Di water), the solution B is what have the hypophosphite and buffers, the solution C is a rejuvenator.

For a Proof of Concept I just got the solution B and got good results from it(nothing commercial grade of course).. Just search for Electroless Concentrate Part B and you will find it easy, I have tested the same solution with Nickel sulfate, Cobalt Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, and other metal sulfates mixed with nickel/cobalt and the results are very promising for many types of industries.

A few pics of the chemicals and solutions I've got:

57929-1d   57929-1a   57929-1b  

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua Nicaragua

sidebar2 P.S.: Mr. Mooney, perhaps the showing the pics is against the rules, if so, would leaving the links be fine?

July 2019

thumbs up sign  Thanks Marvin! Pictures are always appreciated! Links are less liked, mostly because this site has tried to be an enduring reference (some of our pages go back 30 years to our dial-up Electronic BBS days before the Internet) and links almost always break in very short order, rendering any of our pages containing those links damaged as well. We also don't post advocacy for specific brands & sources (why?), but do note that support from Angel Gilding [a finishing.com supporting advertiser] helps make this site possible :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 2, 2019

Thanks Mr. Mooney. I did not know Angel Gilding was a supporter, but now that I think about it, they are on the "Metal Coating" business too(Mirroring glass is the art of silvering a glass mirror with metal and of course they are on the spray on chrome like coating business too), in all honesty, they are the most budget-friendly in the industry bar none.

Without the Angel Gilding Wetting agent, Tin Sensitizer and Palladium Chloride you will not be able to coat non-conductive surfaces with Electroless Nickel.

Marvin Sevilla [returning]
- Managua, Nicaragua

December 16, 2019

A. ASTM B656 will give you formulas for Autocatalytic Ni-P deposition.

jim fulton
A-Labcorp - Dayton, Ohio

Ed. notes: ASTM says that ASTM B656 referenced in Jim's posting is "inactive", but copies are available.

David M: check your e-mail! We moved your posting to an applicable thread because it's not related to "Formula for electroless nickel plating solution", but you keep trying to re-post it on this thread :-)

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