Differences Between Nickel Electroplating & Electroless Plating

Electroless Nickel Plating

Electroless (Autocatalytic) Nickel Plating is the process of an immersion reaction in which plating is achieved through the precence of a chemical reducing agent in solution to reduce metallic ions to the metal state. In simple terms; plating is achieved through a chemical reaction involving very controlled parameters, including concentration, pH, and temperature of the bath. The deposit applied is a nickel alloy with phosphorus content (boron content is not available to GPT). The alloy deposit, depending on the phosphorus content will yield different properties:

Low Phosphorus (1 - 4% Phosphorus) Electroless Nickel

  • Outstanding hardness and wear protection.
  • Hardness: 650 - 750 HK (850 - 950 HK if Heat Treated)
  • Wear Resistance: 15-20 TWI (8-12 TWI)
  • ELV & RoHS compliant
  • High corosion resistant to Alkaline
  • Low corosion resistant to acids (Fails Nitric Test)

Medium Phosphorus (6 - 9% Phosphorus Electroless Nickel)

  • Very good hardness, wear, and corosion resistance¬†
  • Hardness: 550 - 650 HK (900-1100 if Heat Treated)
  • Wear Resistance: 15 - 18 TWI (4-8 TWI if Heat Treated)
  • ELV & RoHS Compliant
  • Good corrion Resistant: 100 Hour Salt Spray Test (ASTM B117)

High Phosphorus (10 - 12% Phosphorus Electroless Nickel) 

  • Best for Corrosion Resistant, good wear and hardness
  • Hardness: 530 - 580 HV (950 - 980 HV if Heat Treated)
  • Wear Resistant: 15 - 18 TWI (4 - 8 TWI if Heat Treated)
  • ELV & RoHS compliant
  • Best for Corrosion Resistance: 1000 Hours Salt Spray Test (ASTM B117)

Nickel Electroplating

The Nickel Electroplating process requires an electric current or power source to create the plating. Unlike in the electroless process, this may require multiple applications to ensure the desired plating thickness.

What Are The Key Benefits of Electroless Nickel Plating?


Electroless nickel cost slightly higher due to the components and complexity of operating the plating bath. However, the deposit quality is much better than nickel plating. 

Corrosion Resistance

The nature of the electroless plating process, with a deposited alloy of pure nickel being mixed with traces of either phosphorus, helps to achieve a better corrosion resistance than its electro-plated counterpart.

Strength & Wear

Electroless plated nickel with phosphorus produces an increased hardness and resistance to wear with its deposit uniformity.

Magnetic Potential

Electroless nickel coating is less magnetic than electro-plated nickel, which allows it to be better applied to a range of electronic products.

Applications For Electroless Plated Nickel

Due to the impressive corrosion resistance it exhibits, electroless plated nickel can be used in a range of different industries:

Get In Touch With Us Today

Here at Guerrero we have the innovation and expertise in plating techniques to ensure that all manner of specifications can be met. Furthermore, we pride ourselves in our manufacturing team and this shows in our quality certifications such as the PDF iconISO Certificate. Call us today to learn more about the different plating techniques and how we can satisfy your requirements.

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