There are many ways to finish a metal. You can powder coat it, blacken it, sandblast it, grind it, polish it, plate it or give it a brushed metal finish. One particularly effective finishing method is zinc nickel plating. This method has several advantages over unfinished metal and over some other finishing methods, depending on the application. There are a variety of applications for which this type of plating is appropriate across several industries.
About Zinc Nickel Plating
An object becomes zinc nickel plated by electroplating. This method involves basically submerging the part to be plated and the plating material in an electrolyte solution which can be either acidic or basic. The piece is charged negatively to be the cathode and the coating zinc and nickel are charged positively to be the anode. The flow of electricity pushes the zinc and nickel to the piece being plated. The blend of zinc and nickel is usually 12 to 15 percent nickel with the rest being zinc. The two preferred methods of electroplating used with zinc nickel are rack and barrel plating, depending on the size and durability of the part being plated.
Advantages of Plating a Metal with Zinc and Nickel
A piece plated with zinc and nickel has greatly increased corrosion resistance. Compared to many other finishing methods, zinc nickel plating offers better alloy distribution, no blistering and better adhesion characteristics, which in turn make further finishing, such as passivation, easier. A plating of zinc and nickel also gives a classic stainless steel look that is pleasing to the eye. The plating is also relatively thin, changing the tolerance by only a few microns.
Applications for Zinc Nickel Plated Pieces
The automotive industry relies heavily on zinc nickel plated pieces. In fact several major car manufacturers have created their own standards for plating with zinc and nickel. Parts like bearings, chassis joints and fluid transfer tubes and other under the hood parts are often plated in this way. This plating type is also a preferred type for the fastener industry.
There are a few industries in which zinc and nickel replace cadmium as a plating material, because zinc and nickel offer similar corrosion resistance without the environmental issues of cadmium. In one of these industries, the electrical industry, parts that may be plated include anchors, coaxial cables and cleat bolts. Another industry that substitutes zinc and nickel for cadmium in plating is the defense industry.