Autocatalytic deposition of composite coatings
The deposition and properties of electroless nickel composite coatings containing graphite, PTFE and chromium were investigated. Solutions were developed for the codeposition of graphite and chromium with electroless nickel. Solutions for the deposition of graphite contained heavy metal ions for stability, with non-ionic and anionic surfactants to provide wetting and dispersion of the particles. Stability for the codeposition of chromium particles was achieved by oxidation of the chromium. Thin oxide layers of 200 nm thick prevented initiation of the electroless reaction onto the chromium. A mechanism for the formation of electroless composite coatings was considered based on the physical adsorption of particles and as a function of the adsorption of charged surfactants and metal cations from solution. The influence of variables such as particle concentration in solution, particle size, temperature, pH, and agitation on the volume percentage of particles codeposited was studied. The volume percentage of graphite codeposited was found to increase with concentration in solution and playing rate. An increase in particle size and agitation reduced the volume percentage codeposited. The hardness of nickel-graphite deposits was found to decrease with graphite content in the as-deposited and heat treated condition. The frictional and wear properties of electroless nickel-graphite were studied and compared to those of electroless nickel-PTFE. The self-lubricating nature of both coatings was found to be dependent on the ratio of coated area to uncoated area, the size and content of lubricating material in the deposit, and the load between contacting surfaces. The mechanism of self-lubrication was considered, concluding that graphite only produced an initial lubricating surface due to the orientation of flakes, unlike PTFE, which produced true self-lubrication throughout the coating life. Heat treatment of electroless nickel chromium deposits at 850oC for 8 and 16 hours produced nickel-iron-chromium alloy deposits with a phosphorus rich surface of high hardness. Coefficients of friction and wear rates were intially moderate for the phosphorus rich layer but increased for the nickel-iron-chromium region of the coating.