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Electroless Nickel Plating of Bi-Metallic Copper-Aluminum Chassis

April 12, 2012

Q. I have a precision machined 6061 aluminum chassis, about 2" x 4" x .25", that has a .36" diameter C110 copper plug pressed into it. I need this part plated in its entirety with 100-200 µin electroless nickel and 30-50 µin electrolytic gold since it is for a high frequency electronic application in which the chassis is wirebonded to using gold wires. I assume this is somewhat problematic because the part is bi-metallic. Can this plating be done? I could use electrolytic nickel instead of the electroless nickel if that would help. A copper layer (or perhaps another metal layer) under the nickel would be OK, if that would give me the gold over nickel outer layer.

Dave Laidig
Product Designer - Mesa, Arizona, USA

April 16, 2012

A. I would plate the assembly as if the copper was not there (that is pre-clean, non-etch clean, double zincate, Alkaline EN and finally acid EN if required). If it comes out right, great, but chances are copper will not get an adherent plate. In this case, a careful scrape or pull off of non-adherent EN plate followed by a selective touch-up of brush plated acid nickel will do.
G. Marrufo

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

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