NP3 Process

Electroless Nickel / PTFE Composite Process Info

The Advantages of NP3 / Electroless Nickel PTFE

The plating of components with electroless or autocatalytic nickel is one of the most rapidly developing metal finishing processes. The advantages of coating uniformity, corrosion resistance and hardness are providing designers with opportunities to protect and improve base materials in ways that were not previously possible.

Simply, autocatalytic nickel plating is a process for depositing a nickel alloy relying on chemical rather than electrical energy. This enables a totally uniform deposit to be applied to a component without the “throwing power” problems usually encountered during conventional electroless nickel plating. A by-product of the chemical reduction process is phosphorous which is found in the deposit at concentrations of between 2-14 weight percent. This nickel-phosphorous alloy is in a microcrystalline or amorphous state when deposited, with hardness of about 550 VPN. Heat treatment of the coating allows re-crystallization of the nickel, together with precipitation of the phosphorous as Nip, increasing the hardness up to 1000 VPN, i.e. equivalent to hard chromium plate.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, the autocatalytic nickel coating confers a degree of lubricity on the component, enhancing the coating’s suitability for pumps, compressors, pistons, brake cylinders and hydraulic components. The precise uniformity of the deposit enables the coating to be utilized as a true finishing process, with no post plate grinding or polishing required after plating.


Specification Numbers for NP3

  • GPS3117-1 (Honeywell)
  • HP4-90 (Boeing)
  • M7019883 (Honeywell)
  • EMS52545 (Allied Engines)
  • AMS-2454 (Automotive Industry Standard)


Plating by autocatalyctic method (left) gives allover, uniform-thickness plating. Electrolytic method (right) gives uneven deposit with build-up on shoulders and very little thickness inside bore.

More Advantages

Further advantages in performance can be accrued by plating a composite coating consisting of an autocatalytic nickel matrix containing second phase particles that impart additional advantageous properties. Of the second phase particles available, the most interesting is Polytetrafluoroethylene – or PTFE. This is a very slippery polymer, chemically inert and capable of continuous operation at temperatures up to 290 degrees C or under cryogenic conditions. The autocatalytic nickel matrix provides an ideal supporting medium for the approximately 25 volume per cent of rather soft submicron particles of PTFE. As the composite surface is slowly worn away during operation, so more PTFE rich coating is exposed to the wearing surface, providing a continuous supply of solid lubricant to the critical areas.

Autocatalytic Nickel/PTFE Plating Process for Low Friction Surfaces

Heat treatment is possible to either sinter the PTFE in the coating, or additionally to increase the matrix nickel-phosphorous hardness to the values mentioned above.

Substantial improvements in performance have been noted in components coated with the composite, in some cases the introduction of the composite has made previously impossible processes, viable.

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gears-largeTechnical Data

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Composite Coatings Electroless Nickel
Specific Gravity -8.0 – 8.5 g/cm 3
Composition -2.14 percent P, Balance Ni.
Thermal Conductivity -0.01 Cal/cm/sec/ degrees C.
Coeff.of Thermal Expansion -13.5 micron/m/degrees C.
Hardness -550 VPN as deposited. 1000 VPN Heat Treated


Composite Coatings - Electroless Nickel/PTFE Pin and Ring Wear Tests

Pin Material: Ni/PTFE 250 Hv Bulk Hardness

Heat Treatment at 300 degrees C., 4 hours gives bulk hardness of 400 Hv.

Ring Material: Chromium Steel

Non-heat treated wear rate
=4 x 10-5 mm 3/minute Coeff.of friction 0.2-0.3 Heat Treated wear rate.
=2 x 10-5 mm 3/minute Coeff.of friction 0.2-.05
Ring Material: Ni/PTFE Composite

Non-heat treated wear rate
=1 x 10-6 mm 3/minute Coeff.of friction 0.1-.0.2

Heat Treated wear rate
=2 x 10-6 mm 3/minute Coeff.of friction 0.1-0.7


NP3® NI – PTFE Deposit Performance Facts
Composition: Nickel 84 – 84% by weight
Phosphorus 9 – 11% by weight
PTFE 8 – 9% by weight
23 – 25% by volume)
Density: 6.5 g/cm3
Hardness: As-Plated 300-350 HV100 (32-35 RC)
Heat Treated@
300°C for 4 hrs
400-450 HV100
(42-46 RC)
Melting Temperature: Nickel Phosphorus Alloy 1650°F, 900°C
PTFE 620°F, 325° C
Co-Efficient of Friction: LFW-1, ASTM D-2714
Wet (white oil) .07 – 0.10
Dry 0.17 – .21
Wear Resistance: Excellent, Mild Load/Sliding Wear Conditions
Abrasion Resistance: Taber Abrasive Test
CS – 10 Wheel; 1000g load
Weight loss, mg/1000 cycles 20
Corrosion Resistance: ASTM B 117 Salt Spray
0.2 mil 96 hours
0.5 mil 500 hours
1.0 mil 1000 hours
Electrical Resistance: Ohms Per Square 0.06 ohm (0.84 mil deposit)

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