Frequently Asked Questions
What is Electroless Nickel Plating?
Electroless Nickel Plating (EN) is a type of coating that imparts a glossy, evenly deposited, tightly-bonded layer of nickel onto a machined, metal component. It differs from nickel electroplating because there are no high-current or low-current density areas on the part which can cause both aesthetic and structural integrity flaws and “burns.” EN also features a rapid deposit rate and can be post-baked to provide a very hard surface, where protecting soft or easily-corroded substrates is essential. EN utilizes a phosphite-based chemical reducing agent to plate nickel onto a surface, rather than direct current reduction, where a rectifier provides a stream of electrons to the cathodically-charged part being plated. Nickel coatings are bonded to the base metal as nickel atoms share outer orbital transfer electrons with base metal atoms. EN solutions also utilize complexing agents, which allow nickel atoms to be stacked up in a uniform fashion, which yields the brightness and glossiness associated with EN. FIP uses mostly mid-phosphorous EN solutions, which deposit a coating consisting of 91-97% Nickel and 3-9% Phosphorous.
What is Hard-Gold Electroplating?
Bright, hard-gold electroplating deposits a 99.7% gold / 0.3% cobalt alloy onto the substrate. Many people ask if it is “real gold.” Yes, it is real gold, and boasts a karat value of over 23. Bright, hard-gold is used extensively in the electronics industry (printed circuit boards), as well as the cryogenics industry, among others.
What is Black Oxide Coating?
Fowler Industrial Plating offers Black Oxide coatings for alloys of steel and copper, but nearly any base metal can be black oxide coated, if a copper strike layer is plated to the surface prior to immersion into the oxide bath. Both solutions are highly alkaline. Black Oxide for steel uses a nitrite-nitrate salt to generate the oxide layer and copper alloys use a chlorite or chlorate formula. Steel baths are operated at 285F and copper baths at 180- 190F. Black Oxide provides a deep black coating for both aesthetic and mild corrosion resistance. Following the oxide application, the steel parts are immersed into an oil postdip, while the copper parts are either left as-is or clear-coated with a lacquer that is formulated for the task.
How fast can FIP finish my plating job?
Our typical turn-around time is 5 working days, but we also offer 4-day, 3-day, 2-day and same-day service. Ask Dana for details.
What sets Fowler Industrial Plating apart from other plating and metal finishing companies?
Fowler Industrial Plating is focused upon being the highest quality nickel plating company in the world and we are passionate about achieving that goal. Many plating companies put little or no emphasis on Process Control or lab analysis; preferring more of the “seat of the pants” approach, where parts are run down a chemical prep line over and over, with no chemical analysis being performed. The operators settle for an “OK-looking” coating that the customer will hopefully accept. The best looking coatings that many of our competitors produce are coatings that would be rejected and re-run at FIP. Everyone who works at Fowler Industrial Plating is college educated.