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Wood's Nickel Substitute

What are some good substitutes for Wood's nickel strike bath?
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Q. Are there any good substitutes for a Wood’s nickel strike bath for plating stainless steel besides hydrochloric acid? The fumes give me a severe allergic reaction!

A. The Wood’s nickel strike is the “go-to” method for activating stainless steel. The strike bath consists of nickel chloride and hydrochloric acid. However, there are other treatments that are used. They just are not as reliable. Below is one such procedure suggested by the Electroplating Engineering Handbook, which should be in every plating company’s library. If you don’t already have a copy, you should get one.

-Degrease.

-Rinse.

-Electroclean anodically. Keep the time for this step to a minimum to avoid over-etching of the substrate.

-Rinse.

-Treat cathodically in the following solution:

-Component      -Concentration/Conditions

-Nickel sulfate   -32 oz/gal

-Sulfuric acid      -6.7 oz/gal

-Temperature   -86 - 104°F

-Anodes Lead

-Current density 150 ASF

-Time 5 - 10 min.

Stainless steels oxidize quickly, so rinse thoroughly and quickly.

Transfer immediately to the plating solution.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue.

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