Inconel's versatility, durability, high corrosion resistance, and low coefficient of thermal expansion make it a popular “super alloy” for aerospace, defense, and other engineered applications. However, because of its high nickel content, it is a very difficult material onto which to add metal plating. Few plating and finishing shops can provide this service.
What is Inconel®?
Inconel is a group of austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloy materials. Known for its oxidation and corrosion resistance, Inconel is ideal for harsh environments and high pressure and/or high heat applications. When heated, the material’s nickel content forms a thick, stable passivating oxide layer that protects the surface. Inconel retains its strength across a broad temperature range and is highly resistant to creep.
There are more than 20 different variations of Inconel currently on the market, each with a unique chemical composition. However, all types of Inconel feature nickel as the primary component and chromium as the secondary.
The name “Inconel” is a registered trademark of Special Metals Corporation.
Plating Inconel® Substrates
To successfully plate Inconel, several extremely well-defined pre-processing and cleaning procedures must be performed first, with little margin for error. ENS uses plating prep processes that have been developed over years of extensive R&D with various Inconel alloys.
From there, we follow our own tried and true methods to apply a Wood’s nickel strike to the Inconel workpiece(s). “Wood’s nickel strike” is a catchall term for a special process that helps plating adhere to this naturally passivating material; in simplest terms, a Wood’s nickel strike involves placing the workpiece in a room temperature, low-pH nickel chloride bath and applying low voltage electricity for 10 to 30 minutes. Our Wood’s nickel plating processes produce superior adhesion and make it possible to deposit any additional metal plating that the application requires, with equally high adhesion qualities.
Stripping Inconel® & Re-Plating
ENS can also strip metal plating from Inconel surfaces and deposit a new plating, either the same material as the original plate or a different material, as specified by the customer. If you find it necessary to re-work any Inconel projects, contact ENS right away.