Electroless nickel on aluminium
Aluminium is increasingly being used in the construction of machinery and equipment for the obvious reason of weight reduction. Examples include structural elements, various mechanical components, high-speed transport systems, electrical cabinets and covers, etc.
Protection Against Corrosion
The P content of >8.5 wt% gives the Kanigen® electroless nickel layer its amorphous structure and excellent resistance to corrosion. Different results can be achieved depending on the layer’s thickness.
This anti-static property is valued, for example, in frames and mechanical parts in the production of semiconductors.
This amorphous character makes electroless nickel plating particularly suitable for vacuum applications.
Kanigen Group has developed a technique to maintain the surface wettability necessary for the automated soldering process.
Automotive system manufacturers are increasingly opting for technical and mechanical components made from aluminium. These include turbo system components to ensure the reduction of CO2 emissions and components in contact with biofuels, which are often highly corrosive. A trend that continues in new deployed technologies in electric cars, such as electroless nickel plated heatsinks.
Elctroless nickel on aluminium is often the solution in aggressive environments where corrosion and/or wear resistance are an issue.
Moreover, it is the only technology that combines high technical requirements such as complex geometry and high precision.
Whether it is to meet specific military standards or purity requirements for semiconductor applications, the combination of electroless nickel and aluminium always offers technical added value .
Kanigen Works Benelux's automated line has been approved by the automotive industry. It has also been approved by a German defence equipment manufacturer. On the same line, we also nickel plate structures that will serve as supports for the hexagonal mirror segments of the world's largest telescope (see video at 2 minutes and 22 seconds).
Kanigen Group is able to apply electroless nickel to any grade of aluminium. This not only includes 1000, 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 series, but also die-cast and injected aluminium, with the exception of ZAMAK alloys.
Means of Production
Kanigen Works Benelux has two production lines dedicated to aluminium:
- The automated line is equipped to handle parts in barrels, by rack-plate or with movement. The drums’ dimensions in mm: 750 (length) x 700 (depth) x 500 (width).
- The manual line features large-scale tanks: 2,600 x 2,050 x 1,000 mm and includes the same nickel deposition bath sequences as the automated line.
The Grey Room
Kanigen Works Benelux is equipped with a grey room, allowing them to handle parts destined for the semiconductor industry and that are packed clean room-compatible.
It is equipped to meet the highest ASML standards:
- GSA 07 4320 – Grade 4 – Surface cleanliness
- GSA 07 0011 – Bright light inspection
- GSA 07 0012 – UV-A Blacklight inspection
The nickel plating process as applied at Kanigen Works Benelux is Grade 2 compatible.
Other applied standards: AMAT 0250-07726-027, etc.
Electroless Nickel Solderability
Kanigen Group has developed a technique to maintain the surface wettability of the electroless nickel layer, with a specific phosphorus level, that is necessary for the automated soldering process. Automated means: target 0 ppm.
The Kanigen® Plus process is performed on barrel-treated aluminium parts, but can be applied to any substrate, barrel treated or rack plated.
The thickness is generally 5 to 8 µm.
Electroless nickel plating is the only technique that guarantees the precision and consistency of the added layer. This is particularly useful for components with complex geometries.
The Main Advantages of Electroless Nickel Plating on Aluminium are:
- Corrosion resistance in adverse environments, for example when a part comes in contact with ink, biofuels, etc.
- The Kanigen® electroless nickel layer (9-12 wt% P) is closed and amorphous. It is therefore particularly suitable for applications in vacuum applications.
- As the process is applied chemically (without electric current), tolerated holes maintain their shape and precision.
- There are no tensions introduced to the surface during the plating process. This is an important criteria when treating mechanically heavy-loaded parts.
- The layer can be used as an under-layer for soldering.
- The layer's hardness and wear-resistance:
- 530 HV0.1 (50 HRc) / Kanigen® electroless nickel (9-12 wt% P) as deposited,
- >750HV0,1 (60 HRc) / Low phosphorous electroles ncikel (1-3 wt% P) as deposited
- Alternative to hard chemical nickel, see below, when heat treatment should be avoided
- 900 HV0.1 (67 HRc) Kanigen® electroless nickel after heat treatment at 280 °C.
- Electroless nickel is an electrical conductor (ER: 50 to 60 µΩcm)
- It prevents the formation of static electricity (anti-static).
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