Electroplating or surface treatment involves applying a thin layer of metal or metal alloy. The purpose is to change the technical or physical properties of the surface of the items being plated - such as their electrical conductivity - or to improve their durability, appearance and performance.
The technology of nickel electroplating has been extensively developed, particularly during the last 50 years making it possible to efficiently produce a broad range of industrial coatings for both decorative and functional applications. Electroplated nickel is commercially important, with upwards of 150,000 tonnes being deposited worldwide each year. This widespread use reflects nickel’s beneficial properties and versatility as a coating material. A particular feature of electroplating is that, by modifying the composition of the electrolyte and the operating conditions, the properties and appearance of the nickel can be customised to specific needs.
Electroplated nickel is used extensively to enhance the utility, value and appeal of manufactured products such as consumer goods. Other nickel coatings are used to improve the physical properties such as resistance to wear, heat or corrosion. In many important applications, the nickel coating serves the dual purpose of providing a bright, attractive finish as well as imparting improved corrosion resistance or other functional properties.
The most notable recent developments in nickel plating have been the increased use of durable nickel-chromium coatings on plastics and aluminium components. Bright, satin, pearl and black coatings are frequently selected for automotive, motorcycle and commercial vehicle components as well as for taps/faucets and bathroom fittings, door and cupboard fixtures, metal furniture, appliances and consumer electronics.