Nickel Boron (NiB) Plating

Nickel Boron (NiB) Plating as a Hard Chrome Replacement

For many years, manufacturers seeking to maximize corrosion protection and increase the hardness of their workpieces turned to hard chrome plating as a finishing technique. Chrome offers excellent resistance to corrosion and also protects against wear. However, concerns about the toxicity of the hexavalent chromium compound used to produce the chrome coating have forced manufacturers and metal finishing companies to search for a viable alternative to chrome. In turn, this has led to the development of a nickel-boron coating process.

What Is Nickel Boron?

Nickel boron is an alloy consisting of approximately 95 percent nickel and five percent boron. A NiB coating offers the protective properties of hard chrome, but it is non-toxic and more environmentally friendly. It's also possible to increase the hardness of a nickel boron coating through heat treating.

Because of its hardness, NiB can provide better wear resistance than chrome. It also offers more corrosion protection than hard chrome, which can lengthen the lifespan of the finished product.

The Nickel Boron Plating Process

The nickel boron coating process entails the use of electroless plating. Unlike traditional electroplating that requires the introduction of an electric current into the plating bath, the electroless method relies on an autocatalytic reaction to coat the workpiece. You might already be familiar with electroless nickel-phosphorous plating, a common finishing technique for many types of metal substrates. A nickel-boron coating offers even greater wear resistance than EN-P.

The electroless coating process also offers several advantages over conventional electroplating. Electroless-plated parts tend to be harder and less porous, which enhances wear and corrosion protection. It's also easier to achieve the desired coating thickness because of the uniformity of the deposit. What's more, electroless plating is better suited to working with parts featuring complex shapes or numerous recessed areas on the surface.

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Other Beneficial NiB Properties

In addition to its excellent corrosion and wear resistance capabilities, nickel boron plating provides the following:

  • High melting point (1,976 degrees Fahrenheit) protects against extreme heat
  • Superior friction resistance
  • Increased ductility
  • Strong heat dissipation properties
  • No risk of hydrogen embrittlement
  • An eco-friendly alternative to hexavalent chromium

Typical NiB Plating Applications

The nickel boron coating process is compatible with many metals used in manufacturing. Examples include carbon and stainless steel, aluminum and its alloys, and titanium. It's also possible to apply it to ceramics to increase the substrate's hardness and abrasion resistance.

Industries that now use NiB as a replacement for hard chrome include aerospace, automotive, and defense. In general, NiB can serve as a safe, cost-effective alternative to hard chrome that delivers equal and in many cases superior results.

SPC Offers an Advanced Nickel Boron Coating Process

Here at SPC, we've developed a reliable, repeatable nickel boron electroless plating technique we can customize to your manufacturing processes. We have more than 90 years of experience and expertise helping companies in aerospace, defense, automotive and many other industries meet their quality and performance objectives.

Contact us for more information and a no-obligation quote today.


"I would like to thank you for the help you have provided us in developing an electroless nickel plating technique on an unusual substrate. The sample platings you provided show that we should be able to reach our goals. I especially appreciate your willingness to take on an unusual job, with the uncertainties that that entails...We are looking forward to working with you in the future on our plating needs."

– Robert K.