Electroless nickel coating and electrolytic nickel coating are different processes used to deposit a layer of nickel onto an object. While both techniques share the common goal of enhancing the properties of the object, they differ significantly in terms of their mechanisms, their application methods, and the resulting properties.
What are electrolytic and electroless nickel coating?
Electroless nickel coating does not require an external electrical current to deposit the nickel layer; instead, the process relies on a chemical reduction reaction to initiate the deposition. Electrolytic nickel coating, on the other hand, is an electroplating process that requires the application of an external electrical current. The object acts as the cathode, with a nickel anode present in the plating solution. The electrical current causes the transfer of nickel ions from the anode to the cathode, resulting in the formation of a nickel layer on the object’s surface.
The nickel plating process
Electrolytic nickel coating is typically used for coating the external surfaces of simple objects. Electroless nickel coating is more suitable for complex shapes, as the plating occurs evenly on all exposed surfaces and makes it ideal for coating parts with intricate designs. For help and advice on nickel coating, contact a surface engineering specialist such as www.poeton.co.uk/standard-treatments/electroless-nickel-plating/.
Properties and uses of electrolytic and electroless coating
Electroless nickel coatings provide excellent corrosion resistance and hardness, making them suitable for engineering components and electronics. Electrolytic nickel coatings also offer good corrosion resistance and strength; however, they are more suitable for decorative objects, jewellery, some kitchen equipment, and light fittings. It is very important commercially, with over 150,000 tonnes being used every year.Industries such as aerospace might opt for electrolytic nickel plating on low-stress machinery components but may prefer to use electroless nickel plating for higher-stress elements.
In summary, electroless nickel coating and electrolytic nickel coating are two methods used to apply nickel layers onto objects. Electroless nickel coating is a chemical reduction process suitable for complex shapes, while electrolytic nickel coating is suitable for more simple objects.