Zinc nickel plating (Zn-Ni) has replaced cadmium as the plating standard in the auto industry for preventing corrosion in the harshest environments. Besides meeting various corrosion-resistance specifications for automotive applications, manufacturers can formulate zinc nickel to meet industry standards in electronics, aerospace, and defense. 

KC Jones Plating Company offers superior-quality with its zinc nickel plating process which combines industry-best chemical processes with high-performance plating equipment. We produce exceptional results regardless of the size or complexity of the job.


Zinc Nickel plating serves many applications across several industries, including: 

Rack Alkaline Zinc Nickel Plating Clear Passivate
  • Automotive: Fluid transfer tubes that form into specific shapes rely on zinc-nickel plating for fabrication. Zn-Ni can also plate fasteners for components used in high-corrosion areas, like chassis joints and parts under the hood. 
  • Electronics: Zn-Ni delivers high electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance for many electrical applications, including plating for connectors as a direct replacement for cadmium.
  • Defense and Aerospace: Applications in defense and aerospace include joining materials with aluminum and plating engine components on military vehicles.

Zn-Ni plating is a solution for protecting automotive components against severe conditions in some areas of Europe and North America with harsh winter environments. When crews spread salt, sand and calcium chloride on roadways for safety, these particles breach exposed surfaces, causing harmful cavities and erosion. The zinc-nickel plating acts as an effective barrier against that penetration.

Zinc-nickel plating has received increasing commercial acceptance over the past 20 years, as many industries have pushed for a high-performance solution against corrosion. Engineers sought plating processes that would go beyond zinc and even replace cadmium. The automotive industry was a critical driving force in the acceptance because Zn-Ni allowed automakers to extend their warranties and reduce claims, a positive outcome for both manufacturers and consumers.

In addition, zinc-nickel plating has replaced cadmium to become the standard in the aerospace industry.

A high-performing anti-corrosion solution For Several Industries

There are a wide array of zinc nickel plating applications for the automotive, electronic, aerospace, and defense industries. Automotive applications include fluid transfer tubes, which can be formed into their required shape after plating. Zinc nickel is used to plate fasteners for use in high corrosion areas (under the hood and chassis joints). In electronics, zinc nickel is used to plate connectors, where it has been used as a direct cadmium replacement. Zinc nickel delivers corrosion resistance and high electrical conductivity. Its aerospace and defense industry applications include joining components to aluminum.

In some areas of North America and Europe, automobiles are exposed to severe conditions. During the winter especially, municipalities spread salt, calcium chloride, and sand for road safety. Sand particles breach exposed surfaces, causing erosion and surface cavities. Zinc nickel plating therefore has become the corrosion-resistant solution for automotive components to protect against these environments.

Zinc nickel plating has received increasing commercial acceptance over the past 20 years. Various industries pushed concertedly for higher corrosion performance. They sought solutions that would go beyond the capabilities of zinc, and/or even replace cadmium. The automotive industry was a key driving force because car manufacturers have sought to extend their warranties and reduce warranty claims for some time.

Parts rack plated with alkaline zinc nickel with a black finish


Some of the specific benefits our zinc-nickel plating process offers include the following:

  • Increased corrosion protection, often 5-6x greater corrosion protection vs. standard zinc plating.
  • Highest performance and tolerance to elevated temperatures, excellent for components exposed to high heat such as in the engine compartment. 
  • Superior abrasion and scratch resistance with hardness values of (350-450 Kg/mm2 Vickers).
Fasteners with Barrel Alkaline Zinc Nickel Plating


KC Jones provides zinc-nickel plating services using acid, alkaline and trivalent passivation options.

Alkaline Zinc Nickel Plating (12-18% Ni)

Several primary features of the alkaline zinc-nickel plating process are:

  • Superior ductility that’s critical to the successful plating of fluid lines, fittings, tubular items and components. 
  • The ability to maintain corrosion performance while enduring extreme pressures and secondary processing.
  • The highest corrosion resistance.
  • The highest hardness properties compared to all zinc and zinc alloys.
  • Superior anti-scratch performance.

Acid Zinc Nickel Plating (12-18% Ni)

Features of the acid zinc-nickel plating process include:

  • Used primarily on cast iron components, high carbon steel, and carbo-nitrided steels
  • Most notably used on brake calipers
  • Provides high deposit brightness, brake fluid compatibility, chip resistance, hot-dust resistance, and paint adhesion

Trivalent Passivation Options for Zinc-Nickel Plating

Trivalent Zn-Ni offers superior corrosion resistance and other properties without the presence of restricted substances contained in hexavalent alternatives. Many of these plating solutions feature distinct colors like:

  • Clear blue, transparent
  • Yellow, iridescent
  • Black
Acid Zinc Nickel Plated Parts


To perform safely in service, landing gear components, manufactured from high-strength steel alloys, require sacrificial protective coatings. Today, cadmium is used on high-strength steel aircraft landing gears. It is a sacrificial, protective coating that prevents corrosion. Unfortunately, cadmium is also extremely hazardous to the environment and to human health. It is a known carcinogen that has been associated with respiratory tract problems, kidney failure, liver damage, and bone mineral density loss.

Cadmium has been the standard coating for high-strength steel alloy components for decades. It has now, however, been targeted for elimination by the United States Air Force (USAF).

Zinc nickel has a much lower environmental impact than cadmium. Low-hydrogen embrittlement (LHE) alkaline zinc-nickel specifically complies with USAF environmental objectives. It meets each of the performance requirements of the original designs for high-strength alloys. That means this formulation is approved for plating landing gear components and enables manufacturers to cease the use of cadmium.

Aerospace industry deems KC Jones zinc nickel plating to be a direct replacement for cadmium plating for the following reasons:

  • Sacrificial to steel (upon corrosion)
  • Slow corrosion (with long life in saltwater)
  • Drop-in replacement capabilities
  • Non-embrittling (to high-strength steel)
  • Much lower environmental impact than cadmium


KC Jones has various industry accreditations, including certification from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (Nadcap) and ISO 9001:2015 certification. Contact our team online today to learn more about our zinc nickel plating services and how they can benefit your company whether you’re here in Michigan or around the world.