Electroless Nickel Plating

Prodigy Surface Tech offers electroless nickel phosphorus with low, mid or high phosphorus content and electroless nickel boron with low boron content.  The electroless nickel process produces a nickel alloy that can be deposited without an external power source. The result is a uniform deposit over any area of a part evenly wetted by the plating solution.  By tailoring phosphorus content and post plate heat treatment to our customer’s requirements, we can optimize solderability, brazability, corrosion resistance, lubricity, hardness or magnetic properties.  Our on-site ability to monitor phosphorus content sets us apart from most suppliers.

Although there are many advantages to electroless nickel phosphorus, for some applications pure nickel is required.  We can achieve the purity of electrolytic nickel with the uniformity of electroless nickel through reduction atmosphere firing of the electroless nickel boron deposit.  During this process, the boron is removed from the deposit as a byproduct of the furnace atmosphere leaving a pure nickel deposit.

Uniform deposition along with its variable properties makes electroless nickel desirable for many applications from precision electronics to heavy industry.  While many products require electroless nickel as the only coating, Prodigy Surface Tech typically uses electroless nickel as an underplate for gold plating or other coatings.

Electroless nickel plating is considered auto-catalytic.  It requires no external power source or soluble metal anodes like sulfamate or bright nickel plating.  The electrons required to reduce the nickel cations to metallic nickel are supplied by a chemical reducer in the bath rather than from an external power supply.  In a properly stabilized plating solution all that is required is a catalytic surface.  Catalysts for the electroless nickel reaction include, nickel, iron, steel, zincated aluminum and palladium chloride complex.  Nickel being a catalyst for the reaction is key for this plating process.  Because the plated nickel deposit catalyzes further reaction, the process can continue allowing thick deposits.

Applicable Specifications:

MIL-C-26074: This specification covers the requirements for electroless (autocatalytic chemical reduction) deposition of nickel-phosphorus alloy coatings on metal and composite surfaces.

AMS 2404: This specification covers the requirements for electroless nickel deposited on various materials.

ASTM B733: This specification covers requirements for autocatalytic (electroless) nickel-phosphorus coatings applied from aqueous solutions to metallic products for engineering (functional) uses.

AMS 2433: This specification covers the requirements for an electroless nickel-thallium-boron or nickel-boron deposit on various substrates.

ASTM B607: Nickel boron coatings are produced by autocatalytic (electroless) deposition from aqueous solutions. These solutions contain either an alkylamineborane or sodium borohydride as a reducing agent, a source of nickel ions, a buffer, complexant, and control chemicals.

AMS 2405: This specification covers the engineering requirements for electroless deposition of low-phosphorus nickel on various materials and the properties of the deposit.