plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Nickel plating replacement on hardware
February 24, 2012
Q. I'm starting on a project setting up a line to plate zinc hardware to a bright nickel-look finish. The "look" and not the actual nickel is due to human contact restrictions in parts of the EU. presently I am only locked in on Cu strike, Cyan CU, Acid CU, then not decided. I've worked with White Brass/Bronze, but as a final finish wear resistance would be too low. At this point I believe the customer is ok with Ni as a sub-coat to gain luster.
Another issue is the K-I-S-S principle due to labor force and contamination.
So fellow platers, what thoughts might you have? I know there are a few alloy plates out there nowadays that might work, but how complicated are they to maintain? That's my fear.
Finally cost-of-finish may be a driving force.
Bob Adams CEF
A. Hi, Bob.
Decades ago, when I was with Atotech, we used bright acid zinc plus lacquer as a replacement for nickel plating on bicycle rims. Getting zinc plating to look bright is not a problem unless you put it next to nickel plating, in which case it's impossible :-)
You are calling your product hardware, but I'm not clear whether it is nuts & bolts & washers, or stampings or what.
Speaking practically, if you are working this hard to keep nickel off the surface, I would put in the extra effort to eliminate it completely rather than including it as a sub-layer and having to start over again in a year or two :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 2, 2012
Q. Thanks Ted,
The hardware is cosmetic only on fashion products. The nickel-look is desired. The zinc-look, like the chrome-look may be to white/silver(stark) and the yellow of nickel blends better with the products.
Some are putting a white bronze flash on bright nickel. I think the human contact issue fades as fashion products have a short life. However I have no desire to have more baths then needed. At this point I may have to go nickel/white bronze unless I come up with something better.
I had looked at Atotech products remembering they had something that could pass, but was unable to find it.
It seems wear may not be a major issue as I know they lacquer after plating other parts.
Thanks for the suggestion. Anyone else want to chime in is welcome.
Bob Adams CEF
A. Dear Mr Adams,
A Tin Cobalt plate of 2 microns would solve all issues. It would even get the nickel to look like chrome- so it wouldn't be yellow but a Chrome with a tint. It looks awesome.
White bronze works well for abrasion and corrosion only over brass and copper; it's pathetic on both counts over any other metal.
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
April 9, 2012
A. Khozem has the right answer. Tin-Cobalt will look great.
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina