Analytical Lab & Electrodeposition Analysis
For a consistent quality product, it is important to continually perform electroless nickel analysis of your coating product. ENS Technology is the only metal plating company in Northern California to maintain a fully equipped, on-site analytical laboratory. Our fully PhD-credentialed chief chemist oversees all lab operations, including plating bath chemistries, wastewater protocols, and the technical monitoring of our dedicated R&D plating line.
Our lab allows for real-time testing of chemical concentrations and impurities using volumetric analysis and our state-of-the-art Perkin Elmer AA200 atomic absorption spectrometer. Multiple titration stations can provide data for dilutions down to 10,000 units.
Advanced Plating Bath Chemistries for Improved Electroless Nickel Analysis
Maintaining a proper electroless nickel solution within its plating bath chemistry begins with an understanding of important chemical and physical process variables that influence the solution's performance. These variables directly affect the final deposit quality. The three primary areas include the chemical balance, the interaction of rate and loading effects and the influence of the process equipment on the final quality. For a proper plating bath within an electrodeposition analysis, ENS maintains several features through our analytical lab plating bath chemistry, including:
The key to a successful electroless nickel system is proper replenishment. The proper chemical balance throughout the entire bath is extremely critical.
Stabilizers are important in regulating the plating rate while also preventing the solution from spontaneously decomposing. Keeping the plating bath chemistry solution level at a nickel concentration above 80% nickel activity is important because the stabilizer additives may be only 30 to 60% of optimum levels in solution at lower nickel concentrations.
Nickel concentration is determined by simple chemical analysis. A small sample of the solution is cooled to room temperature and analyzed with a standardized EDTA solution. As the nickel concentration decreases, the rate of nickel deposition decreases. To maintain these properties at an optimum level, small frequent additions should be made.
To maintain the proper metal to reducer ratio, the solution should be periodically analyzed and adjusted with hypophosphite. To optimize the hypophosphite efficiency, it is important to heat up and cool down the solution quickly while maintaining a constant process load in the tank when the solution is heated.
The concentration of trace metals and other contaminants within the plating solution will affect deposit quality and appearance. Test papers are used to verify metal contamination prior to concocting a new electroless nickel solution.
The solution's operating pH is an important parameter because it affects the plating rate and the amount of phosphorus co-deposited. Higher pH values favor lower phosphorus contents in the deposit while increasing the plating rate. Lower operational pH levels increase the phosphorus content in the deposit while decreasing the plating deposition rate.
The temperature of an electroless nickel plating solution is one of the most important factors affecting deposition rate. It is important to have the proper heating system to avoid localized overheating, which can result in bath decomposition or deposit roughness.
Bath Loading & Agitation
Loading is referred to as the ratio of total exposed surface area being plated to the volume of solution in the tank. Different deposit characteristics can be obtained depending upon the solution loading. Optimum loading will depend on the type of bath or proprietary formulation. Additionally, agitation is important to maintain uniform heating and mixing of the solution.
The equipment used to plate electroless nickel deposits can also affect deposit consistency and quality. Usually, the equipment is the difference between producing good or bad quality deposits.
Generally, a newer solution favors good adhesion since there are fewer reaction by-products of sulfate and orthophosphite. The sulfate concentration determines the degree of attack on various substrates at plating initiation.
Poor Brightness & Coverage
Residues from cleaners, acids or other pretreatment steps can create passive areas on the part that will not initiate nickel deposition resulting in poor coverage, pitting or lack of deposit brightness. Sharing common rinses between the soak, electrocleaner, and acids will cause deposit or solution performance problems.
Performance Testing Solutions
Electroless nickel solutions can provide consistent, high-quality nickel-phosphorus deposits. Controlling the chemistry and operating variables of tank loading, agitation, pH and solution temperature are critical for producing high-quality deposits.
Through our analytical lab plating bath, we can create a quality assurance that your electroless nickel coating meets or exceeds your standards.
Plating Bath Chemistry Coating Materials & Finishes for Improved Performance
Our plating bath chemistry services incorporate all the metal finishes and coatings that we offer. These include the following:
- Electroless Nickel Plating
- Gold Plating
- Silver Plating
- Copper Plating
- Tin Plating
- Nickel Plating
- Chemical Film
Plating Wastewater Protocol for Advanced Quality Electroless Nickel Analysis
Plating processes use unavoidable hazardous materials that must be handled properly to ensure compliance with stringent Federal, State, and Local laws. All process water and spent solutions are treated in-house by means of a controlled and constantly monitored system of pH neutralization, flocculation, coagulation, precipitation, and filtering. This process neutralizes hazardous materials and removes metals and other hazardous elements from the water. Some of the wastewater treatment equipment that we utilize for our electrodeposition analysis, include:
- Digital pH and ORP calibrated controllers
- Segregated waste streams
- Proprietary software that allows for 24-hour monitoring anywhere in the world
- Metering pumps
- ICP testing of wastewater
- Visual and audible alarms for notifying operators of any potential problems
Click here for more information regarding ENS Technology or check out our ASTM and AMS pages to learn more about the industry specifications in which we qualify. We also have specific quality control standards in place to maximize product consistency.
Technical Monitoring for R&D Plating and Advanced Electroless Nickel Analysis
Our metal finishing experts have thousands of hours of R&D plating technical monitoring experience. They can provide you with serviceable knowledge and feedback that will help you better understand electrodeposition analysis process.
Improved Electrodeposition Analysis with the AA200 Spectrometer
Analysis of plating and cleaning solutions is necessary when maintaining electroless nickel solutions. The analysis should be done frequently and accurately to maintain tight control on the processes, thus ensuring consistency of the product. ENS Technology’s AA200 spectrometer atomic absorption provides a method of electroless nickel analysis that is extremely accurate, providing advanced quality assurance.