Electrodeposition on aluminium and its alloys
Aluminium alloys S1C, NS4, HE9, LM25 and the 'difficult' zinc containing U.S. specification alloy used for automobile bumpers (X-7046), have been successfully electroplated using pretreatments which utilized either conventional immersion, elevated temperature or electrolytic modified alloy zincate (M.A.Z.) deposits. Satisfactory adhesion in excess of 7•5 KN m -I was only achieved on X-7046 using an electrolytic M.A.Z. pretreatment. The limitations of simple zincate solutions were demonstrated. Growth of deposits ~as monitored using a weight loss technique and the morphology of the various deposits studied using scanning electron microscopy. The characteristics of a specific alloy and processing sequence selected had a significant influence on the growth and morphology of the N.A.Z. deposi t. These all affected subsequent adhesion of electrodeposited nickel. The advantages of double-dip sequences were confirmed. Superior adhesion was associated with a uniform, thin, fine grained M.A.Z. deposit which exhibited rapid and complete surface coverage of the aluminium alloy. The presence of this preferred type deposit did not guarantee adhesion because a certain degree of etching was essential. For a satisfactory combination of alloy and M.A.Z. pretreatment, there was a specific optimum film weight per unit area which resulted in maximum adhesion. An ideal film weight of 0•06 :!: 0•01 mg cm-2was determined for S1C. Different film weights were required for the other alloys due to variations in surface topography caused by pretreatment. S1C was the easiest alloy on which to achieve high bond strength. Peel adhesion was not directly related to tensile strength of the alloy. The highest adhesion value was obtained on S1C which had the lowest strength of the alloys studied. The characteristics of the failure surfaces after peeling depended on alloy type, adhesion level and pretreatment employed. Plated aluminium alloys exhibited excellent corrosion resistance when appropriately pretreated. The M.A.Z. layer was not preferentially attacked. There was a threshold value of adhesion below which corrosion performance ~a8 poor. Alloy type, pretreatment and coating system influenced corrosion performance. Microporous chromium gave better corrosion protection than decorative chromium.