The electroplating process dates back to 1805. It was when Luigi Brugnatelli performed electrodeposition of gold over a metal. Several decades and innovations later, nickel has become one of the popular metals used for electroplating.
Nickel electroplating is more affordable than its predecessor gold and offers a gamut of appealing benefits. Therefore, many metal stamping manufacturers use this method to create a protective shield on their metal stamped products that finds applications in various industrial verticals.
What is the Nickel electroplating method?
Nickel electroplating involves depositing layers of nickel coating on a metal stamped part. This process is based on the principle of electrolysis. Here anode is nickel and cathode is the metal surface. These two metal bodies are immersed in an electrolytic bath. When current is passed through them, nickel starts forming a layer on the metal stamped surface.
Before starting the electroplating nickel process, the metal is cleaned and free of dust, corrosion, or defects. It ensures even coating. Once cleaned, the metal goes through masking, where it is covered to prevent anodization.
Next, the metal is heated to make it soft and improve its formability. It is followed by pickling that removes the impurities that may affect the metal stamped part, and finally, etching.
Next, the metal surface is immersed in an electrolyte solution as a cathode, while the nickel anode dissolves with electrolyte to form nickel ions. These ions form a coating on the metal surface or the cathode.
This process is followed by the nickel strike process that improves the adhesion of the coating and ensures it lasts long. Finally, a chromium finish is preferably added that offers better corrosion resistance.
The current density of an electroplating process indicates the deposition rate of the cathode on the base metal. The higher the current density, the higher is the deposition rate. It means a quicker electroplating process.
Nickel electroplating offers a wide range of current density level that affects the time, adherence, and quality of nickel plating on the metal. Higher current densities are preferred as these provide a high-quality coating. However, continuous current may result in over-plating of metal parts by nickel. Therefore, the discontinuous current is given to the electrolytic setup to ensure optimum current density.
Benefits of Nickel Electroplating
Nickel electroplating is one of the widely used processes to add shine and luster to the metal surface and to prevent it from premature corrosion. The reasons for this are:
- High Corrosion resistance:
Nickel electroplating forms a protective shield on the surface that protects it from oxidizing and rusting.
- Improves Solder-ability:
Nickel is a solderable metal. Therefore, nickel electroplated metal parts are easy to solder.
- Good Durability:
Metal parts gain strength and become more long-lasting when coated with nickel through the electroplating process.
- Enhanced aesthetics:
Nickel electroplated metal has a good finish and is available in brushed stainless steel and metallic black. These parts shine bright and look pleasing.