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Problem plating Nickel on to Brass

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  • Problem plating Nickel on to Brass

    I have been having a difficult time plating nickel on to polished brass, which is to say I am able to peel the nickel off with very little effort. The part doesn't come out of the solution with any blisters but when I flex it in any way, blister develop and can then peel the nickel off. I have followed all the degreasing directions twofold. The brass originally had a film finish on it that I had to strip away first, I have boiled the parts in sp degreaser and even soaked the parts in acetone but I continue to have the same problem. What could I being doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Plating Brass

    did you use a picle to active the brass.

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    • #3
      No, I am going to do that today. That probably has something to do with my problems.

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      • #4
        I always use a copper plate first. Copper and brass are in love!! Then I put the nickel over polished copper.

        Works well with electroless also.

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        • #5
          Don't flex that nickel or you will be in a pickel.

          Assumimg you are cleaning/prepping the parts correctly, you must remember that nickel does not flex (unless it is "vapor" thin).
          It is not like copper or zinc (a soft, ductile metal).

          Did you ever bend a piece of plumbers strapping (you know the stuff, that 1/2 inch wide zinc coated metal strapping with the holes in it).
          Did you notice that the zinc did dot crack or peel?

          Try this with nickel and presto...it crack and start to peel at the flexed area.

          If you are making some sort of bracket out of this brass, pre-form it to the shape desired so minimal (or no) flexing will be done at final assembly.
          Also, try a short (15 minute) plating time to keep the plating thickness to a minimum.

          George W.

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          • #6
            Have you performed a waterbreak test?

            You can clean a part till you turn blue, but if it is not clean enough to pass waterbreak, the plate will not hold.

            Are you buffing first? Buffing grease is very sneaky and difficult to remove. My recommendation is to use ultrasonics and heat if at all possible. Don't be shy about doubling up on the concentration of SP degreaser and see if that helps. But SP sometimes has some trouble removing buffing grease.

            It's not the best, but I've used a cup per gallon of Dawn dishwashing liquid in a heated ultrasonic to pre-strip the buffing grease, then a professional plating cleaner to do a final clean. I get about a 90% success rate afterwards with the waterbreak. If I don't achieve it, I soak it again for another 5 minutes or so in plating cleaner using ultrasonics.

            I use a plating cleaner containing lye, heated to about 150-160F. The concentration of lye is about 2oz per gallon along with other soaps and surfactants (the formula is proprietary to the plating supply company, so I have no idea what else is in it). Lye is nasty stuff and it is hazardous to the skin and eyes, but acetone is no bargain either.

            Some other folks here have reported success with brake cleaner. I have never tried it. Personally I avoid volatile organic solvents (eg acetone, gasoline, lacquer thinner, etc.) because of flammability and breathing hazards. Further, they really can't do the job as effectively as other things because they essentially thin the grease and it just ends up back on the part in diluted streaks. The lye-based stuff breaks down the grease and makes it difficult for it to cling back to the part, like soap would.

            George's point is correct. Nickel isn't the most flexible stuff to plate. But a minor bend shouldn't cause a peel or buckling.

            NOTE: I want to again reiterate that Lye is a very dangerous material. It can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes and skin. It is nasty stuff and should NEVER be taken lightly. Any time I come near the stuff I wear gloves and goggles.

            Ken

            Ken.

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            • #7
              There are three things that can help, as mentioned above is cleaning, waterbreak is the key of course. Unlike the commercials that show yer sparkling dishes shedding water you dont want that. If your part doesnt come out clean and completely wet you're not clean yet. 10% hydrochloric should do fine, if copper starts to deposit on your parts its time to renew your solution.

              Also mentioned is that nickel is more brittle the thicker the plating. Keep it to a miniumum. Brass is nice if you clean it bright it plates bright, copper pre plate is pretty standard as well but it isnt needed with brass.

              One trick that may help you is (but will discolor your nickel) is baking after plating. For nickel chrome springs typically an hour in an oven roughly 400 degrees give or take will remove the hydrogen embrittlement which affects steel in particular but also gives nickel chrome a bit more flex. Unfortunately unless you are using electroless nickel you will discolor bare electrolitic nickle.

              I really need to see what kits are sold here so I know what you're working with.

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              • #8
                Re: Problem plating Nickel on to Brass

                Hello,
                You have been good advice.
                I have plated brass/bronze/zinc dicast for over 25 years and yes I have had nickel peel. Several things come to my mind which others have advised:

                1.Clean. Removes surface dirts, oils, greases.
                2.Electro-cleaner- reverse current (anodic), this helps remove the oxide film
                on the brass.
                3. Activation (recommend 5-10 % sulfuric, murtic acid, or an acid salt).
                4. Followed by nickel plate.

                If you are experience nickel peeling any under plating will peel.

                Another problem could be your nickel solution.
                1.To much brighters will give you a brittle nickel.
                2. How old is your nickel solution.
                3. The pH.
                4.Temperature
                5. Is solution contaminated with parts in tank.

                Call Caswell for nickel solution advice.
                Nol4154







                I have been having a difficult time plating nickel on to polished brass, which is to say I am able to peel the nickel off with very little effort. The part doesn't come out of the solution with any blisters but when I flex it in any way, blister develop and can then peel the nickel off. I have followed all the degreasing directions twofold. The brass originally had a film finish on it that I had to strip away first, I have boiled the parts in sp degreaser and even soaked the parts in acetone but I continue to have the same problem. What could I being doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated.

                Comment

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