Nickel Plating Services (Electroplating)

Nickel Plating Services (Electroplating) per QQ-N-290, ASTM B689, AMS 2403

Nickel Plating ServicesAdvanced Plating Technologies provides functional and engineered nickel plating services to QQ-N-290, ASTM B689 and AMS 2403  including both Watts and Sulfamate nickel bath formulations.  APT’s expertise in providing exacting barrel, rack and vibratory nickel plating services is currently employed in numerous industries including the medical, telecommunications, power distribution, petrochemical and electronics industries.

Advanced Plating Technologies offers a wide range of nickel plating services including both Type I “dull” and Type 2 “brightened” deposits.  APT has the ability to underplate with copper plating if required or specified to enhance adhesion and corrosion resistance of the final deposit.  For applications that demand the highest in ductility, APT offers a proprietary process called Ducta-bright 7a nickel.  This nickel system was developed by APT’s engineering group specifically for application within the ammunition industry.  It is unmatched in ductility and adhesion for demanding applications that require a nickel deposit that can be staked, bent or formed post-plate.

Nickel is a silvery-white metal with a slight golden or yellow hue.  As-deposited electrolytic nickel can have a very bright reflective shine, a satin appearance, or a full-dull matte luster.  Nickel is one of the four ferromagnetic materials at room temperature and is a fairly reactive element.  However, nickel deposits are slow to react in standard atmospheric environments due to the formation of a protective, oxide surface, providing excellent corrosion performance on most products.  Nickel has an extremely high melting point of 1455C (2651F) making it an excellent coating for high-temp applications.

Nickel Plating ServicesFor applications requiring a bright or lustrous appearance, bright watts nickel plating should be utilized.  Bright nickel systems have organic additives that refine the grain structure of the nickel and deposit with a self-leveling effect to enhance luster.  However, these additives can impair the solderability or brazing of the nickel and also result in a more highly tensile stressed deposit with reduced ductility.  APT’s proprietary Ducta-bright 7a Nickel is an anomaly in the subset of bright watts nickel systems as it couples a bright nickel appearance with a excellent ductility.

For joining applications involving soldering, brazing or laser welding, sulfamate nickel plating is recommended.  Sulfamate nickel produces a highly pure nickel deposit free of organic additives, resulting in a 99.9% pure nickel deposit with a satin to dull appearance.  Unlike traditional brightened watts nickel systems, sulfamate nickel produces a compressively stressed deposit making is an excellent choice for crimping or flexing applications and as an underplate to gold plating applications including lead frames and interconnect pins.

Nickel Plating ServicesAs a general rule, unbrightened nickel deposits such as sulfamate nickel provide the best corrosion resistance as co-deposited inorganic compounds degrade corrosion performance.  Minimal corrosion protection is provided in thicknesses less than 0.0003 inches, whereas good corrosion performance generally occurs between 0.0005-0.001 inches of nickel plating.  More information regarding corrosion protection of nickel deposits can be found within the Plating Topics section of our online Technical Library.

The two most common nickel plating services certified by Advanced Plating Technologies are QQ-N-290 ASTM B689.  APT can also certify nickel plating services to ISO 1458, AMS 2423 and AMS 2403 well as most company-specific nickel specifications.  A summary of the nickel plating types per the ASTM and MIL specs is as follows:

Nickel Plating ServicesNickel Plating to QQ-N-290
Class 1 – Corrosion Protective Plating
Class 2 – Engineering Plating

Table 1 Lists the Following Minimum Thicknesses:

Grade A – 0.0016 Min Thickness Plating
Grade B – 0.0012 Min Thickness Plating
Grade C – 0.0010 Min Thickness Plating
Grade D – 0.0008 Min Thickness Plating
Grade E – 0.0006 Min Thickness Plating
Grade F – 0.0004 Min Thickness Plating
Grade G – 0.0002 Min Thickness Plating

Nickel Plating ServicesQQ-N-290 Class 1 Categories:

SB – Single Layer Bright Nickel Deposits
SD – Single Layer Dull or Semi-Bright (Satin) Deposits
M – Multilayer Nickel Deposits

3.2.5 Underplating:  When specified in the contract, purchase order or applicable drawing, Class 1 plating shall be applied over a plating of copper on steels, copper and copper based alloys.  Class 1 plating shall be applied over an underplating of copper or yellow brass on zinc and zinc based alloys.  In no case shall the copper underplate be substituted for any part of the specified nickel thickness.

3.3.1 Thickness of Plating

3.3.1.1 Class 1 – Unless otherwise specified, the minimum thickness of Class 1 nickel plating shall be as specified in Table 1 on any visible surfaces, which can be touched by a ball 0.75 inch in diameter.

3.3.1.1.1 Unless otherwise specified, the minimum nickel plating for ferrous materials or for zinc based alloys shall be Grade C.  Unless otherwise specified, the minimum nickel plating for copper and copper alloys shall be Grade D.  If the maximum thickness for Grade A is not specified in the contract, order or applicable drawing, the thickness shall not exceed 0.002 inch on all visible surfaces which can be touched by the 0.75 inch diameter ball.

Nickel Plating to ASTM B689

Nickel Plating ServicesType 1 – Nickel Deposits Plated from Solutions Free of Brighteners Hardeners or Stress Control Additives
Type 2 – Nickel Deposits Plated from Solutions Containing Sulfur or Other Co-deposited Additives
Type 3 – Nickel Deposits Containing Dispersed Submicron Particles such as Silicon Carbide, Tungsten Carbide or Aluminum Oxide to Increase Hardness or Wear Resistance

Classes – Class indicates minimum deposit thickness in microns (µm).  e.g. Class 5 is a deposit of 5µm minimum thickness.

Advanced Plating Technologies provides expertise in nickel plating services to fulfill even the most demanding applications.  From prototyping and PPAP qualification to full production processing – it is APT’s dedicated effort to exceed your expectations.  The following points highlight why Advanced Plating Technologies is a leader in nickel plating services:

  • Nickel Plating ServicesDucta-Bright 7a Nickel:  As a result of extensive work in the ammunition industry, Advanced Plating Technologies offers this proprietary bright watts nickel system that facilitates crimping and flexing for applications across all industries including the interconnect, electronic and sensor markets.
  • Diversity of substrates:  Advanced Plating Technologies provides nickel plating services on nearly any metallic substrate such as copper & copper alloys including beryllium, chromium and tellurium coppers, hardened and alloyed steels, stainless steels, Inconels, Hastalloys, Monels, ductile & cast iron and metalized plastics.
  • Delicate and Difficult Geometries:  Advanced Plating Technologies specializes in nickel plating services on delicate parts employing specialty oscillating, rock-and-roll, compartmentalized, vibratory and minimum part movement barrel technologies as well as custom-engineered rack fixturing when required to ensure even the most delicate parts are handled properly.  Artistic has a working R&D relationship with several tooling manufactures that has led to several patented designs.
  • High Production Barrel Capacity:  Advanced Plating Technologies has one of the largest commercial barrel nickel plating lines in the northern Midwest utilizing ultra-high capacity spray-thru barrel technology.
  • RoHS and REACH Compliance:  Advanced Plating Technologies is at the forefront of environmental compliance and can certify our nickel plating services as needed to the current RoHS, ELV and REACH regulations.
  • Competitive Pricing:  Advanced Plating Technologies has been providing quality nickel plating services for over sixty years.  Competitive pricing in nickel plating services is paramount to gaining and maintaining our customers in today’s competitive global marketplace.
  • Dependable Lead Times:  With inventories leaner than ever, reliable turn-around is a core competency that we value highly to ensure the service our customers need.
  • Nickel Plating ServicesValue Added:  At Advanced Plating Technologies you will find a working relationship for your application.  Whether it’s custom engineering packaging, vacuum or nitrogen sealed packaging to enhance storage, Kanban inventory management, light subassembly or multiple finishing combinations – APT will work with you to ensure we meet your needs in nickel finishing services.
  • Extensive in House Analytical and Quality Lab Services:  SPC is employed in all wet-lab work surrounding APT’s nickel plating services to ensure baths are analyzed and adjusted at optimum frequencies to maintain operation between critical upper and lower control points.  Our quality lab employs the latest in x-ray, coulometric and spectrophotometer technologies to inspect your parts and will work to your requirements to provide testing as needed.  Our quality lab can certify salt spray performance to ASTM B117, adhesion to ASTM B571 and solderability to ASTM B678.  Mounted cross sections of parts are also available.