Blisters and Nickel Plating

What causes blistering in nickel barrel plating?


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Q. We are having problems with blisters in our nickel barrel plating line. The blisters appear on an irregular basis. We test the plating bath once a week and make adds as necessary. Do you have any suggestions as to what might be causing our blistering problem? —P.R.

A. The process you describe seems to be OK, but you mention that the blisters occur periodically, and that indicates to me that something is changing in your system over time.

Blisters can be caused by interrupted current flow through the plating bath, poor cleaning of the substrate and contamination of the plating bath. I would look at your electrical system also. Are you getting continuous current flow through the system? Have you experimented with changing the barrel load to see if you get better results?

You should also start keeping records as to when you see the blistering occurring. You may find that you have a pattern that’s based on time or number of barrels plated or some other factor that occurs on an irregular basis.