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topic 9853

Help a rookie with nickel plating problem



I have recently taken over the plating department where I work. I am a novice to say the least. My task is to plate steel mandrels for honing of carbide. The basic setup is a layer of nickel followed by synthetic diamond and a finishing layer of nickel on top. I have a very basic manual, and am using the previous platers bath and cleaning setup, recently I have had problems with the nickel peeling.

I have tried the manuals troubleshooting suggestions which include, checking PH and temp. raising and lowering my amperage, including breaks and fluctuation in power,and filtration. I suspect that my cleaning process is to blame.( my manual is very vague on the subject)

Can anyone suggest a cleaning/pickling process or guide me towards some reference materials on the subject?

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Michelle Bailey
- Ontario, California


Hello Michelle!

If you're willing to hit the books, there are a number of ASTM documents that you'll probably find worthwhile. Among those most appropriate to your problem are:

ASTM B322 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet], 'Cleaning Metals Prior to Electroplating'
B183, 'Preparation of Low-Carbon Steel for Electroplating'
ASTM B242-99 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] , 'Preparation of High Carbon Steel for Electroplating'
ASTM B689 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet], 'Electroplated Engineering Nickel Coatings'

A few others that would be of interest include:

B507, 'Design of Articles to Be Electroplated on Racks'
ASTM B849-02 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet], 'Pre-Treatments of Iron or Steel to Reducing Risk of Hydrogen Embrittlement'
B697, 'Selection of Sampling Plans for Inspection'

You can get these as individual specifications (they're between 2 and 10 pages), or you can get ASTM Volume 02.05 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] from ASTM, containing all of these and much much more. I think it is the better deal, and that it really should be on Ted's excellent list of must-have books (see

Metal Finishing Magazine has their superb GUIDEBOOK, which has a number of fine articles, well worth your reading time.

Finally, and probably best, is to contact your supplier of plating chemicals. They're essentially your business partners- if you can't plate, they won't be selling to you. Most of the firms have folks with a lot of expertise, who'll be happy to talk with you. If they don't, you can find a supplier here ( who will.

Good luck!

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart

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