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Nickel Plating (Decorative)

Supplier: A Class Metal Finishers

Nickel plating can be achieved via 2 methods - "electrolytic" and "electro-less". This sheet discusses the electrolytic variety. Electroless Nickel is a higher cost process generally for industrial (non decorative) application and is discussed in a separate leaflet. Nickel plating plays a major role in surface finishing for decorative purposes.


Nickel provides the 'substance' of the coating as it predominantly provides the hardness and corrosion resistance to the surface. Though sometimes used as a 'final finish' it is more common for nickel to be applied as the "undercoat" to final finishes such as silver, gold or chrome. The nickel solution type used in the finishing process determines the level of brightness of the finished product. Some nickel solutions result in a matt or 'satin' finish.

Benefits of Decorative Nickel Plating: Nickel plating provides the finished product with hardness and protection from the elements and determines the level of brightness of the product - in fact it can be extremely difficult to achieve a bright finish without it.

Colour & Aesthetics: Nickel is a silvery colour with a "yellow/brown" hue. Nickel as a final finish can sometimes provide a closer match to some stainless steel grades - depending on the level of nickel contained in the stainless material.

Applications of Decorative Nickel Plating: As an "undercoat" nickel is used for most decorative applications. It can also be used as a final finish if required. A Class's "Restoration" division has assisted with restoration of many early model vehicle components, traditionally nickel plated.

Substrates suited to this coating: Can be applied over most metal substrates, and over pre-treated 'ABS' plastic.

Design Cautions: As this is an electrolytic process it is necessary to use jigging, racking or wiring to provide for electrical current conductivity. Some shapes and designs lend themselves more readily to successful plating than others or may need to be adapted. Please consult your plating adviser prior to finalising design if you intend using this finishing process in your product manufacture.