Nickel plating is a practical and affordable way for the DIY hobbyist, model builder or automobile and motorcycle restorer to plate their own projects without the need to send them out to a professional plating shop. Hiring out a plating company takes extra time and money, besides there is a certain satisfaction that comes when a project can be taken from the beginning to end without needing to bring in a third party. This is what working on a weekend project is all about, the ability to take on all the steps of the project so that the builder or hobbyist can learn all aspects of the overall process and build their own know-how and experience.
There are three main ways to nickel plate at home. It should be noted that no matter the type of nickel plating kit that is used whether it be a nickel electroplating kit or an electroless nickel kit the base metal that is going to be plated must be cleaned thoroughly in order for the plating to take properly. Cleaning the object can include scrubbing off of dirt or grease with a cleaning solution or it may require the entire object be submerged and left for a period of time in a chemical bath in order to work on any contaminants that may be present on the base metal object.
Remember to look up instructions on any metal that is being cleaned prior to plating in order to use the right cleaning solution. A cleaner that may work great on some thing like stainless steel may chew up and damage an aluminum alloy. Nevertheless, it’s vitally important although to make sure the object is free of grease and fluids. Nickel plating simply will not work if the material is dirty.
The three ways to electroplate nickel are the brush plating technique, the tank kit or the electroless nickel plating kit. Brush plating seems to be the simplest way to plate but will take longer to plate larger pieces such as a motorcycle fender. The nickel tanking strategy means more equipment and a larger work area but will create a setup that can handle a variety of sizes. Both brush and tank plating require a power supply like a battery or AC plug. Electroless plating means no electricity and this is helpful because there are no shadows where the clips are needed to attach on to the anode and cathode. Although electroless does require a heating source and that the nickel solution be heated to a very high temperature which can be dangerous if not managed correctly, it is known to add a more universal and uniform plate.
Consider these three options before choosing a plating kit. Always read about the different ways to nickel plate at home and become familiar with the procedure before buying a kit online.
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