Nickel plate is commonly used as a corrosion inhibitor for the manufacture of computers, cellphones, and electronic devices. It also can provide solderability, hardness, wearability, friction loss, paint adhesion, conductivity, and shielding.
Nickel plate refers to thick, flat stock metal shapes that exhibit uniform thickness and are formed using billets or ingots of pure nickel or any of a number of nickel alloys. In general, manufacturers consider planes with a thickness between 0.25 inches and 0.5 inches to be plates, while thinner measurements would be nickel sheets or foils. The categories made by individual nickel suppliers may vary with regards to the acceptable range of thicknesses.
The nickel plates themselves may or may not be used as the finished product, though they and the many products made from them are extremely versatile and widely employed across the industrial sector. Power generation, chemical processing, building and construction, marine, material handling, electronics, aerospace, automotive, medical and numerous other industries find many applications for metal plates in stock and finished form.
In some instances, the plates are fused to substrates through a process known as electroless nickel plating to form a protective surface. This and general uses for nickel plate take advantage of the materials natural ductility, malleability, hardness, ferromagnetism, electrical and heat conductivity as well as corrosion resistance. As these features vary among the many nickel alloys, it is important to consider the specific composition of a nickel plate prior to purchase.
Before the production of nickel plate can begin, this naturally occurring element must be mined from the earth, most often by means of pyrometallurgical extraction or hydruometallurgy. The resulting nickel ore is then refined until the desired purity is reached. Commercial grade nickel products are composed of 99.6% nickel and minimal amounts of other elements while some nickel alloys contain as little as 32.5% nickel.
Once the desired composition is achieved, stock billets, ingots, bars or other pre-forms are transformed into plates. Though casting and extrusion may be used, roll forming is the most common method employed in the manufacture of nickel plate. Hot rolling requires that the material be heated, with optimal working temperatures for nickel between1,800°F and 2,200°F, while cold rolling maintains room temperature.
Hot or cold, the material is fed through a pair of rollers that compress the metal into a thin sheet. In some cases several rollers or multiple passes through the same rollers is necessary to achieve the desired thickness. The thickness, which should be uniform throughout the plate, as well as gauge, length, and width, should be carefully considered with regard for the intended use of the plate as should processing techniques which may impact the characteristics and qualities of the nickel or alloy.
Finished plates may be used as such for supports or plating purposes or may undergo a range of secondary processes such as stamping, punching, cutting, bending, or other until the final component is produced.