Thermally Assisted Adhesion Enhancement in High-Phosphorous Electroless Nickel Plating

  • Virendra SinghEmail author
  • Manuel MaryaEmail author


High-phosphorus electroless nickel is a widely recognized protective plating for oilfield metallic parts subject to corrosion and wear. In the present investigation, thermally activated diffusion treatment was applied to enhance electroless nickel (10-13 wt.% P) plating adhesion on low-alloy steel (UNS G41400) and reduce the risks of spalling. High-phosphorus electroless nickel (10-13 wt.% P) was applied to a variety of UNS G41400 low-alloy steel test samples as per ASTM B733 that were subsequently heat-treated in air for four distinct temperatures, i.e., 510, 540, 570, and 600 °C for 2-10 h. Following post-plating diffusion heat treatments, the initial amorphous electroless nickel was replaced by Ni3P precipitates dispersed in a crystalline nickel-rich phase, with an average hardness improvement from 500 to 700 HK. An increased atomic interdiffusion (from 400 to 3.5 µm) was observed at plating–substrate interfaces, resulting in enhanced adhesion and reduced susceptibility toward spalling. This improvement in adhesion was measured repeatedly through post-bending crack analyses and subsequently validated by interface microindentation. Along with diffusion across plating–substrate interface, nickel oxide formation on surface by oxidation was observed to grow at quasi-parabolic rate with no detrimental impact on spalling. In all cases, plating adhesion was improved by heat treatments due to the diffusion-controlled formation of a seemingly ductile layer.


adhesion diffusion electroless nickel heat treatment hardness oxidation spalling UNS G41400 



  1. 1.
    M. Palaniappa and S.K. Seshadri, Friction and Wear Behavior of Electroless Ni-P and Ni-W-P Alloy Coatings, Wear, 2008, 265(5), p 735–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    I. Apachitei, F.D. Tichelaar, J. Duszczyk, and L. Katgerman, The Effect of Heat Treatment on the Structure and Abrasive Wear Resistance of Autocatalytic NiP and NiP-SiC Coatings, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2002, 149(2), p 263–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    P. Sahoo and S.K. Das, Tribology of Electroless Nickel Coatings—A Review, Mater. Des., 2011, 32(4), p 1760–1775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Sun, S. Shuang, H. Zeng, V. Fattahpour, M. Mahmoudi, and J.-L. Luo, Investigation of Corrosion Properties of a High-Phosphorus Ni-P Coating and Corrosion Resistant Alloys in 3.5 wt.% NaCl Solution, in Corrosion 2018, (NACE International, Houston, 2018), p. 10Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    ASTM B733: Standard Specification for Autocatalytic (Electroless) Nickel-Phosphorus Coatings on Metal (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    J.B.H. Glenn O Mallory, Electroless Plating: Fundametals and Applications (1990)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    C.E. Higgs, The Effect of Heat Treatment on Structure and Hardness of an Electroless Deposited Ni-P ALLOYS, Electrodepos. Surf. Treat., 1973, 2, p 12Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Y.F. Shen, W.Y. Xue, Z.Y. Liu, and L. Zuo, Nanoscratching Deformation and Fracture Toughness of Electroless Ni-P Coatings, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2010, 205(2), p 632–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. Bonin and V. Vitry, Mechanical and Wear Characterization of Electroless Nickel Mono and Bilayers and High Boron-Mid Phosphorus Electroless Nickel Duplex Coatings, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2016, 307, p 957–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    K.-H. Hou, M.-C. Jeng, and M.-D. Ger, The Heat Treatment Effects on the Structure and Wear Behavior of Pulse Electroforming Ni-P Alloy Coatings, J. Alloy. Compd., 2007, 437(1), p 289–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    M.H. Staia, E.S. Puchi, G. Castro, F.O. Ramirez, and D.B. Lewis, Effect of Thermal History on the Microhardness of Electroless Ni-P, Thin Solid Films, 1999, 355–356, p 472–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    R.N. Duncan, Performance of Electroless Nickel coatings in Oil Field Environments, NACE, Hosuston, 1982Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    J. Sudagar, J. Lian, and W. Sha, Electroless Nickel, Alloy, Composite and Nano Coatings—A Critical Review, J. Alloy. Compd., 2013, 571, p 183–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    F.B. Mainier and M.M. Araujo, On the Effect of the Electroless Nickel-Phosphorus Coating Defects on the Performance of this Type of Coating in Oilfield Environments, SPE Adv. Technol. Ser., 1994, 2(01), p 63–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    H. Ashassi-Sorkhabi and S.H. Rafizadeh, Effect of Coating Time and Heat Treatment on Structures and Corrosion Characteristics of Electroless Ni-P Alloy Deposits, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2004, 176(3), p 318–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    A. Bai and C.-C. Hu, Effects of Annealing Temperatures on the Physicochemical Properties of Nickel-Phosphorus Deposits, Mater. Chem. Phys., 2003, 79(1), p 49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    S.J.K. Harikrishnan, K.N. Srinivasan, J. Parveen, M. Ganesan, and P.M. Kavimani, An Overall Aspect of Electroless Ni-P Depositions—A Review Article, Metall. Mater. Trans. A, 2006, 37A, p 10Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    W.J. Tomlinson and G.R. Wilson, The Oxidation of Electroless Ni-B and Ni-P Coatings in Air at 800 to 1000 °C, J. Mater. Sci., 1986, 21(1), p 97–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    M. Sribalaji, P. Arunkumar, K.S. Babu, and A.K. Keshri, Crystallization Mechanism and Corrosion Property of Electroless Nickel Phosphorus Coating During Intermediate Temperature Oxidation, Appl. Surf. Sci., 2015, 355, p 112–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    S. Eraslan and M. Ürgen, Oxidation Behavior of Electroless Ni-P, Ni-B and Ni-W-B Coatings Deposited on Steel Substrates, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2015, 265, p 46–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    L. Ma, K. Zhou, Z. Li, Q. Wei, and L. Zhang, Hot Corrosion of a Novel NiO/NiFe2O4 Composite Coating Thermally Converted from the Electroplated Ni-Fe Alloy, Corros. Sci., 2011, 53(11), p 3712–3724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    R. Romero, F. Martin, J.R. Ramos-Barrado, and D. Leinen, Study of Different Inorganic Oxide Thin Films as Barrier Coatings Against the Corrosion of Galvanized Steel, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2010, 204(12), p 2060–2063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    L.-Y. Qin, J.-S. Lian, and Q. Jiang, Effect of Grain Size on Corrosion Behavior of Electrodeposited Bulk Nanocrystalline Ni, Trans. Nonferrous Metals Soc. China, 2010, 20(1), p 82–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    W.J. Tomlinson and P. Gentil, Passivation and Pitting of Electroless Nickel Surface Coatings, Surf. Technol., 1983, 20(2), p 149–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    J.L. Dossett and G.E. Totten, ASM Handbook: Steel Heat Treating Fundamentals and Processes, ASM International, Almere, 2013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    API Specification for Casing and Tubing (2016)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    ASTM E407–07, Standard Practice for Microetching Metals and Alloys, 2015Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    ASTM A370-17a, Standard Test Methods and Definitions for Mechanical Testing of Steel ProductsGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    ASTM B57, Standard Practice for Qualitative Adhesion Testing of Metallic Coatings (2013)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    ASM Handbook Volume 5: Surface Engineering, (1994)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    H.V. Atkinson, Development of Grain Structure in Nickel Oxide Scale, Mater. Sci. Technol., 1988, 4(12), p 1052–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Y. Unutulmazsoy, R. Merkle, D. Fischer, J. Mannhart, and J. Maier, The Oxidation Kinetics of Thin Nickel Films Between 250 and 500 [degree]C, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, 19(13), p 9045–9052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Y. Yang, S. Liu, J. Li, X. Bian, and Z. Guo, Inhibitory Effect of Ni-P Coating on Thermal Expansion of Carbon Steel, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2017, 315, p 484–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Z. Chen, X. Xu, C.C. Wong, and S. Mhaisalkar, Effect of Plating Parameters on the Intrinsic Stress in Electroless Nickel Plating, Surf. Coat. Technol., 2003, 167(2), p 170–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    L. You, M. Manuel, and S. Virendra, Property Evolution in the Electroless Nickel Plating of a Spinodal Copper-Nickel-Tin Alloy, Mater. Sci. Technol. (2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schlumberger Technology CorporationRosharonUSA

Personalised recommendations