Looking for 99% nickel

Cadillac

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Need to do some nickel plating on some parts and hardware I’ve made. First wondering if I can use anything nickel to use as the anodes. Second is sourcing know pure nickel to use as the anode. I saw McMaster Carr carries hardware that is a nickel alloy but will the other alloys complicate the plating? Idk so what I’m in search of is a cheap source of pure nickel. Does anyone has a source? I have looked on eBay and such and the prices seem kind of high to me. Thanks for looking.
 

BGHansen

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Try www.caswellplating.com. I've got one of their 2-gallon nickel plating tanks and a 1-gallon brass.

Bruce



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graham-xrf

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Hi
I found nickel on eBay. You get two kinds.
One is the sheet, usually in 100mm (4") squares, and 1mm or 3mm thick (think up to 1/8"). I cut strips off mine.
The other is very thin, in rolls, intended for spot-welding together battery packs. Take care with these. Some are nickel plated onto a steel middle.
Search eBay "Nickel Anode. You can get 100mm long round bar from 3mm up to 15mm diameter.
In small quantities, this is OK, but probably a more expensive unit price for nickel.

Then there is welding rods. For TIG, they are just pure nickel.
For stick welding, there are types that are 99%+ pure, with the gassing flux coating.
There is also FeNi (Ferro-Nickel), also with a coating.
BOTH of these are offered as suitable for welding up cast iron, or cast semi-steel, so take care. Only one is OK for electrode. Do not get the NiFe mix rod. About $20 bucks should get you a few rods
Basically, you scrape the coating off the (pure) nickel rod.

Keep in mind that once the process is started, the 0.5% or less of other stuff is "contaminant", but depending on the electrolyte, and voltage, you can leave the contaminants either dropped out, or in solution. With a nickel anode, and a little film of nickel plated onto the steel, the ion exchange only involves nickel. In the case of vinegar based nickel acetate, the solution will only get greener, and saturate, and will readily deposit nickel. I have also nickel sulfate, and various other chemicals for the recipes.

To get enough nickel on to render a part "non-rustable" takes about 10 to 15 minutes at 600mA. I tried the vinegar solution, and it works well. One of my tries had the plating take on a "slightly gold" shine, but was still hard nickel. That was from 2 strips, 1.6mm thick (1/16"), about 10mm wide and 100mm long.

Purity does not have to be extreme. Even 95% seems to work. In some situations, plating becomes the method of purifying.
Note the trial example in the picture could only plate up to the depth of the liquid in the glass jam-jar I was using. :)

Nickel Electrolysis-5.png
 
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Cadillac

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Thank you guys. I plan on going with the vinegar salt solution. I have a dc power supply and wall warts. I do have some nickel arc welding rod I had gotten but I do not know if it’s pure or something special for cast welding.
Is it better to have more surface area for the anode sheet verses rod ?
 

graham-xrf

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Thank you guys. I plan on going with the vinegar salt solution. I have a dc power supply and wall warts. I do have some nickel arc welding rod I had gotten but I do not know if it’s pure or something special for cast welding.
Is it better to have more surface area for the anode sheet verses rod ?
My apologies for a lengthy posting. There is a whole lot to know..

You don't have to worry much about surface area of the electrodes, other than in the sense of having enough electrode distributed to not leave awkward parts of the shape being plated starved, or that the electrode gets completely used up, and the current stops. There are some things to be explained, but the very first is to say there are many variables. The voltage, the current, the current density over the given area it is expected to plate, the type of plating you want (hard, partly ductile, stressed, high shine, wear durable, adhesion, pre-treatment, first strike, disimilar metal undercoat, and lots more).

Estimate the surface area of what you want to plate. Note the current you want to, (or can manage to) run. Divide to get amps/sq cm or Amps/sq inch, and compare to the recipe. They have these usually to set a maximum, for where the coating will deteriorate, or become rough. Usually you can use a lower current - it just takes longer. Sometimes you need a different current density to get a more ductile material.

The deposit of nickel out of a nickel salt solution can be done in two basic ways. One is where the electrolysis is driven by a external current, as normal electrolysis, where the nickel plating out of solution is replaced by the nickel taken into the solution at the electrode.

The other way is by deposition direct out of the solution, which is called "electroless nickel" plating. There are dozens of tricks, chemistries, catalysts and patents involving this, and for good reason. You get it happening as you first dunk the steel into the solution, and the process is driven by the difference in electrode potential of the two metals, which, by this self-made little battery, actually runs a little current (electrons) in the solution, depositing nickel, weakening the solution a bit - for a while. The process is self-limiting. As the object becomes coated with nickel, it leaves no more iron exposed to the chemistry. The voltages become equal. It stops - unless you force it along a little with a wall wart!

There was a time when the most robust, long-lived 1.2V/Cell battery was a NIFE cell. If 1.2V seems familiar, you are right about NiCd batteries, their poison, their charge behaviour, their limited life.

Even coat - everywhere.
This is what happens with electroless nickel plating. Regardless the awkward shape internal curves, or up the inside of tubes, the coating thickness is exactly the same everywhere. This is "nickel strike", and is the go-to starting point for much of the plating industry, because you can get a high adhesion covering onto most materials, even if you go on to plate something other metal (copper, whatever).


When it comes to powered electroplating, the solution becomes depleted in places where the new nickel ions have not had physical opportunity to flow to, so the current density is less. Using a fish tank bubbler, or better, pumping or stirring the fluid around to overcome this will help enormously. Then there is the whole skill of arranging anodes nearby starved areas, to "even out" the current density. If you want to plate up the inside of a tube (like a spindle), then I suggest arranging a nickel rod (welding?) up the middle of the tube, suspended from each end.

If you can get hold of a small power supply, with the possibility of voltage and current control, it gives greater control over the type of coating. I get it that we folk do not want to take up all there is in decades of very advanced chemistry on the way to getting some good results. What we need is some sure-fire, low cost, reasonably safe recipes. I have always looked for these. There are lots, especially from the long past, and from patents. Here is where we discover that many recipes involve stuff now known to be dangerous, and is hard to get hold of. Food grade stuff starts out safe enough - but then gets changed. Take care. Sulfur compounds, including sulfuric acid, are safe to pour onto the ground. Rust is everywhere. It's what sulfur does.Hydrochloric acid (Muriatic Acid) AKA acid spirits or pool acid, has chlorine in it, and is harder to dispose of.

Use the right vinegar!
From experience, get the bottle of spirit vinegar as clean acetic acid. I tried using perfectly clean-looking vinegar that had first seen use in a jar of pickled onions. I could even use the same jar. It was a bad mistake!. There are "other" ingredients in the food. Sugars, "stabilizers", preservatives, etc. Stuff to stop the onions from going limp. If you buy the spirit white vinegar from the local food store as I do, check the label. If the name says "pickling vinegar", it might have extras. Get the purest stuff you can. Don't throw it away with nickel in it. It is possible to take back the nickel out of a dirty solution using chemistry (try reverse current with a carbon electrode). Plating is a messy rabbit-hole. Use gloves, and be meticulous.

Use a plastic bin the right size

Big enough to do what you need, including circulating. Small enough not to require an expensive, surprisingly large volume of good green liquid to cover the part. It is hard to transfer, store, and manage. Here is a custom plating bath ad-hoc container in embryonic stages. A lash-up made from a piece of 110mm plastic drain pipe, and a couple of the brackets that go with this stuff. The ends are sealed up using a couple of those plastic lids that come on each end of cardboard tube cartons, but any plastic end stop would do. Hot melt glue to seal on the inside join.

Dev Spindle Plating Bath (Drainpipe).jpg

Designed to let me suspend the spindle from the points at the grooves, and the gear spline, and not involve gallons of electrolyte. If I cannot find pure nickel wire, I will use tungsten, or something with no ability to go into acetate solution.

Never let stainless steel into the the solution.
I suppose if you know there is no possibility of Chromium ions going into the acid solution, and you know you will not be making hexavalent chromium in solution, then maybe, but stainless is best avoided. Never use stainless steel electrodes, nor a stainless steel vessel in a electrolysis de-rusting operation. The stuff is unbelievably toxic and carcinogenic!!

I do have (a lot) of publications and research, but here, YouTube is your friend. Most folk start with Geoffrey Croker's video, but simply using "nickel plating" as a search key will give you more than you could want.

Get some good hints from Here --> https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/metals-metal-products/nickel-plating-history/

I attach the 1869 patent. This is actually good entertaining stuff. You don't have to search out all the patents after that to get going.
Also a useful pdf. `
 

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7milesup

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I watch that video just to hear him say "but where do I get the nickel from". LOL
 
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