Matt Martz
| NASF Education Director
(202) 527-0252

Electroless Deposition

The course consists of 11 lessons. Students successfully completing the exam will be given credit towards the Master Surface Finishers (MSF) certification. While it is not necessary to take any course to be eligible to sit for the respective exam that could lead you to becoming a Master Surface Finisher (MSF), this course covers one of the core subject areas for qualifying to obtain MSF certification.

Course Options

Intended Audience

This training program is designed to be beneficial for employees and supervisors working in both captives and job shops performing electroless nickel plating. Line operators, managers, technical sales representatives and engineers who work in the job shop, captive shop electroplating or in the airline/aerospace industry will benefit from this training program.

Trainees should have at minimum a high school diploma. Some experience in processing parts for surface finishing is helpful but not required.

The training materials and instruction are in English. In many cases, metric and/or US/English units of measurement are utilized. Students are taught how to convert between the two systems of measurement when required.


The goal of this course is to provide the student with a broad range of information related to electroless nickel plating operations that are commonly conducted on a variety of substrates.


The objective of the lessons in this course is to prepare students for a certification examination that will provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in electroless nickel plating methods, techniques and processes, whereby quality is improved and rejects/finishing problems are reduced, making students more valuable to their employers.

At the conclusion of this course, attendees should:

1. Overview of Electroless Nickel Plating
This lesson presents an overview of electroless processes including a brief history and types of deposits available, including nickel-phosphorous, nickel-boron, composites and poly alloys. Substrate limitations and activation methods are also presented.
2. Properties of Electroless Nickel Deposits
This lesson covers mechanical properties of electroless nickel deposits, focusing on developing maximum hardness/wear resistance. Other properties such as corrosion resistance, magnetic properties, solderability and weldability are also discussed.
3. Equipment for Electroless Nickel Plating
This lesson details the equipment utilized for electroless deposition. Included is a discussion of tank materials, tank liners, methods of temperature control, energy conservation, pumps filters, piping racking and agitation. A brief description of automated chemistry control is also included.
4. Pre- and Post-plate Processing in Electroless Nickel Plating, Part 1
This lesson covers the various methods of preparing metallic substrates for electroless deposition. Base metals such as copper, high and low carbon steel, cast iron, stainless steel, nickel based alloys, magnesium and aluminum are covered in part 1 of this lesson.
5. Pre- and Post-plate Processing in Electroless Nickel Plating, Part 2
This lesson covers the various methods of preparing metallic substrates for electroless deposition. Base metals such as zinc, titanium, molybdenum, powder metallurgy are covered in part 2 of this lesson. Also discussed are preparing non-metallic substrates, masking, and stripping and post-plate heat treating procedures.
6. Electroless Nickel Plating Solutions
This lesson provides the chemical formulations for electroless nickel solutions and describes the role of key ingredients. Also included is a discussion of WEEE and RoHS ramifications.
7. EN Operating Variables
Operational conditions that can affect the quality of the electroless nickel deposit are detailed in this lesson. Included are the role of pH, ingredient concentrations, temperature, impurities, stabilizers, complexers, and accelerants in both Ni-P and Ni-B systems.
8. Troubleshooting EN Plating Solutions
The potential causes and fixes for operational problems such as pitting, poor adhesion, poor appearance, skip plating, high internal stress, slow deposition rate, bath instability and poor corrosion resistance are among other topics in this lesson.
9. Quality Control for EN
This lesson will detail the most commonly employed methods maintaining control over an electroless nickel plating process. Instrumental methods of analysis, testing of deposit properties, alloy determination, hydrogen embrittlement, thickness testing, accelerated corrosion resistance testing, and porosity tests are included in this lesson.
10. Electroless Deposition on Plastics
This lesson provides a basic understanding of how plastics are processed and electroless nickel plated to achieve a conductive surface for the application of other plated deposits. Covered are the use of etchants, neutralizers and activation systems. Troubleshooting each of these steps is also discussed.
11. Electroless Deposition of Gold & Cobalt
This lesson will provide information on electroless deposition methods for producing gold deposits using borohydride, sulfite and trivalent-cyanide-based solutions. The remainder of this lesson provides some guidance for electroless deposition of cobalt and cobalt based alloys.