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"Electroless satin nickel plating too sensitive to fingerprinting"

December 29, 2016

Q. Hello,

We have aluminium parts plated using electroless nickel plating. The satin look of it and the colour looks perfect, but...it is extremely sensitive to finger marks. When we touch the surface with with dry hands a dark finger marks remain on it and can be hardly cleaned. The surface was sandblasted before plating, so we understand that the dirt remain in these small holes on the surface. However there are many products on a market that are nickel plated, but are not so extremely sensitive to finger marks. What could be wrong? Sand blasting is too fine? Additional plating layers should be made? Special pretreatment needed?

We would appreciate for any help.

Andriejus Aputis
manufacturer - Siauliai

January 17, 2017

A. Yes, the surfaces characteristics of "satin" nickel will darken when impregnated with skin oils.

You can either:

Change to a less susceptible nickel plating, or

Apply a thin organic overcoat to fill the tiny voids which hold oils. A dip, after plating, in a water soluble wax might do the job.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

February 6, 2017

A. Hi Andriejus,
I have seen this problem before. First of all, why satin? Secondly, why not use clean latex gloves? Finally, a light mechanical step such as emory cloth or perhaps scotch brite usually works depending on nickel thickness. After polishing, the nickel may appear more shiny and not have a satin look.

blake kneedler
Blake Kneedler
Feather Hollow Eng. - Stockton, California

February 8, 2017

Q. Jeffrey,

Thank you for your advice.
What do you mean "less susceptible nickel plating"?
Are there any other electroless nickel plating methods for aluminium?
We have to achieve that satin/matte/silky look.
To be more clear - we used "pearl nickel" (matt).

Kind regards,

Andriejus Aputis [returning]
- Siauliai, Lithuania

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