Though with a starting date back around the 1700s, plating isn’t a technology that was discovered and then kept the same. It’s a process that has undergone much experimentation as companies tested the full potential of every aspect of plating in order to determine the best available. Currently, it is electroless nickel boron nitride plating that has taken the industry by storm. Versatile in its applications and complete with a laundry list of beneficial properties, virtually everything that can be plated through electroless nickel plating is.
The most well-known property of this type of plating is that it can be used to create phosphorus and nickel alloys of varying ratios. This means that engineers and platers can alter the ratio according to the characteristics and the deposit structure they need for the item being plated.
Electroless plating is also considered superior to its electric current counterpart due to the deposit uniformity. No matter the geometric complexities and no matter how thick the deposit needs to be, electroless means total uniformity across the entire item. In fact, this is the sole reason why electroless is the only possible plating option for so many objects.
Beyond these two major properties, electroless nickel boron nitride plating comes with many others that make it so popular. Its melting point is more of a range that can be altered depending on the chemical makeup of the coating. The resistance to electricity it contains is higher than most others. When used for memory discs, it is altered so that it remains non-magnetic even under extreme stress. Its corrosion protection means that even something as sensitive as magnesium can be protected against the elements for far longer. However, for this to work, the coating process must guarantee that the plating has absolutely no pores whatsoever. Finally, electroless nickel leads to a coat that contains natural lubricating properties and wear resistance.
Over the past 50 years, virtually every industry has seen a jump in the use of electroless nickel. Though only done through a series of trial and errors coupled with some brave souls willing to support such a new technology, it has proven to be as reliable as it is diverse in its abilities.
For cars, it is mainly used for the brake pins, aluminum fuel filters, fuel injection systems and bleed valves. As for the future, many automotive giants are seeing its potential with fuel cells.
The adoption here has been a bit slower due to some reliability issues the plating is known for. As for now, it is more commonly found on servo valves, turbine blades, landing gear and engine assemblies.
This industry is the biggest user of nickel plating, with its properties leading to the successful growth of it. Batteries, heat sinks, semiconductors and many other components utilize it. Interestingly enough, it’s the microwave industry that is most interested in its future development.