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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
Bob Adams CEF
Tijuana, Mexico

February 24, 2012

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, finishing.com
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
Bob Adams CEF
Tijuana, Mexico

April 7, 2012

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.

Khozem Vahaanwala
Khozem Vahaanwala
Saify Ind
supporting advertiser
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
saify logo

April 9, 2012

A. Khozem has the right answer. Tin-Cobalt will look great.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

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