What is nickel plating and what is it used for?
To frame this question, this treatment can be included with other electroplating techniques. Enhancing the surface of a metal using a nickel-plating process has a dual purpose: appearance and practicality.
Nickel-plated objects are shinier and brighter: just think of metal gold plating, fountain pens, lighters, cutlery, watches, eyeglass frames, etc. Many metal objects are subjected to nickel plating to enhance their appearance.
Certainly the most important is the practical and functional aspect related to the hardness of nickel (variable from 140 to 550 Vickers depending on the bath adopted). As an industrial coating, nickel plating protects metals from wear and corrosion, particularly rust. Given this, it is not surprising that nickel plating is in such demand in sectors ranging from mechanics to electronics to aerospace.
Nickel plating: electroless or electrolytic nickel plating
Nickel plating has been known for a long time, and the techniques may vary depending on the thickness of the coating.
Thinner deposits can be limited to providing a decorative final layer and are also quite resistant to corrosion, while thicker deposits also provide resistance to abrasion, or allow worn components to be repaired with a new application.
Nickel plating can involve electroless or electrolytic nickel plating.
Has nickel plating been surpassed?
First, do not confuse nickel plating with chrome plating. To be clear, the first gives metal surfaces a more ‘vintage’ look and not a mirror effect. This is due to the fact that nickel plating is the oldest technique in the field of metal protection.
In fact, nickel plating dates back to 1870 (it was initially used mainly to finish firearms that were often made of steel). Low-cost chrome plating made its appearance around the 1920s. It is no coincidence that nickel plating is often preferred today to refinish historic and vintage cars in order to maintain the original appearance as much as possible.
Many customers ask if nickel plating is an outdated process. The most professional answer is no. Nickel plating for metals remains an excellent solution to make the base material resistant to wear, ensure corrosion protection and protect the surface from oxidation.
On a functional level, the introduction of advanced techniques has led to interesting innovations.
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