Electroless Plating: All You Need To Know!
Most people interested in metal plating often rely on electroplating as the most common method. However, the use of electroless plating techniques is an alternative and most convenient metal plating. Fortunately, the latter is rapidly gaining popularity in several industries thanks to its many advantages. Moreover, most industries feel that electroless nickel plating is a more cost-effective alternative to electroplating techniques.
How Electroless Plating Works
Electroless plating is a pure chemical process that involves plating surfaces without using an external source of power. Submerging the component in an aqueous solution containing a nickel deposit results in a catalytic reduction of nickel ions, allowing the part to be plated without the need for any electrical energy. Thus, the simplicity and cost factor associated with this technique has attracted several industries.
Types of Electroless Plating
Depending on your choice, you can either use both metals to complex alloys to plat your goods. However, each material comes with its unique chemical, mechanical, and physical properties, others coming in the form of a clean, bright shine. Here are a few metals mostly used during surface plating:
- Cobalt Alloy: it is used for memory apparatus as magnetic plating and is. It Includes cobalt-tungsten-phosphorus alloy, cobalt-nickel-manganese alloy, cobalt-iron-phosphorus alloy, and more.
- Tin: used as immersion tin and classified as displacement plating. However, it is not designed to form a thick layer and is also used to prevent rust and improve lubrication and solderability.
- Gold: used for tiny electrical components.
- Copper: two methods are available here, the first one being a layer of up to 1 µm which can be deposited at normal temperature. It is used for through-hole plating on printed circuit boards for general plastic plating. The second method involves a layer of between 20 and 30 µm that requires a high-temperature bath for deposit and is used to form printed circuit boards.
- Palladium: used for electrical contact points and connectors
- Silver: used for giving an electroforming mother die the electrical conduction property. It also provides a mirror finish on the inner surface of thermos bottles.
- Chrome: used widely but not suitable for depositing a thick layer.
The Benefits of Electroless Plating
Electroless plating methods are often better in generating corrosion resistance since the resulting plated are often hard and less porous. Thus, they have become popular in industries where parts are vulnerable to wear and corrosion, like marine applications. Moreover, electroless plating techniques are also used on parts that are frequently subjected to corrosive agents like pumps and valves.
The technique can also give uniform deposits with consistent thickness all around the part. Thus, this makes it advantageous when it comes to complex shapes where you cannot easily achieve uniform plating through conventional electroplating methods.
For manufacturers and other heavy industries, electroless nickel plating is not only cost-effective but also user-friendly to workers on account of not using power in the process. It can be an alternative method to the traditional method. If your primary goal in plating is to rather achieve maximum protection from corrosion than beautify the product, then electroless plating is your choice.