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Nickel Plating - Electrolytic


Nickel plating can be achieved via 2 methods - "electrolytic" and "electro-less". Here we discuss the electrolytic variety.  Nickel plating plays a major role in surface finishing for decorative purposes. Nickel provides the 'substance' of the coating as it predominantly provides the hardness and corrosion resistance to the surface. Though sometimes used as a 'final finish' it is more common for nickel to be applied as the "undercoat" beneath final finishes such as silver, gold or chrome. The nickel solution type used in the finishing process determines the level of brightness of the finished product. Some nickel solutions result in a matt or 'satin' finish.


Nickel plating provides the finished product with hardness and protection from the elements and determines the level of brightness of the product - in fact it can be extremely difficult to achieve a bright finish without it.

Colour & Aesthetics

Nickel is a silvery colour with a "yellow/brown" hue (as opposed to chrome which tends to have a blue-ish hue). Nickel, as a final finish, can sometimes provide a closer match to some stainless steel grades - depending on the level of nickel contained in the stainless material.


Nickel is used as an "undercoat" for most decorative electroplating applications (e.g. chrome, gold, silver). It can also be used as a final finish if required.  Many early model vehicle (car or motorcycle) components, were traditionally nickel plated. A Class, of course, has been involved in many Restoration projects of that nature.

Substrates suited to this coating

Nickel plating can be applied over most metal substrates, though most often it is applied over pre-coppered surfaces, including metals and plastics.

Design Cautions

As nickel plating is an electrolytic process it is necessary to use jigging, racking or wiring to provide good electrical current conductivity to transfer the required metal to the surface of the item concerned. Some shapes and designs lend themselves more readily to successful plating than others - if not the part design may need to be adapted (or special racking or jigging designed to compensate). Please consult your plating adviser prior to finalising design if you intend using this finishing process in your product manufacture.
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Specialising in Copper, Nickel & Chrome Plating, Gold Plating, Silver Plating, Tin Plating, Electroless Nickel, Plating on Plastic (ABS) and Metal Polishing

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