We have been unable to obtain consistent results when we try to plate beryllium with nickel. Can you offer any hints on how to do this? M. M.
Beryllium forms an oxide on the surface that makes it very tough to plate. The trick is to prevent or remove the oxide from the surface prior to plating. The most common way to prepare the beryllium surface for plating is to use a zincate bath to deposit a thin zinc film on the surface prior to plating. A procedure taken from a Finishers' Think Tank column in Plating and Surface Finishing, 76, January 1989, page 24, suggests the following steps:
1. Clean parts
2. Acid etch for five minutes in a solution consisting of:
Nitric acid 20 parts
Hydrofluoric acid 1 part
Water 20 parts
3. Immerse in a zincate bath for 5 – 15 seconds using the following solution:
Zinc oxide 30 g/liter
Potassium fluoride 15 g/liter
Sulfuric acid 25 ml/liter
4. Apply a copper strike using a cyanide strike bath.
5. Nickel plate.
As always, good rinsing is required between of these steps.