In response to the formal classification of nickel as a toxic substance, industries are now actively seeking safe and effective alternatives for nickel-based coatings. Atotech, a brand within the Materials Solutions Division of MKS Instruments, has therefore introduced Hiron®, an electrolytic base that offers superior corrosion protection similar to that of zinc-nickel deposits.
Atotech points out that the iron rich deposits of the Hiron® perform exceptionally well in tough corrosion tests, including PV1209 cyclic corrosion, neutral salt spray and automotive driving tests. With its customisable alloy range, heat resistance, and sleek silver appearance, Hiron® is a versatile choice for a broad array of applications.
Unmatched corrosion protection and versatility
Atotech states that Hiron® is a game changing, high iron electrolytic plating process that delivers unparalleled corrosion protection across a range of applications. When paired with trusted Atotech post treatments, its corrosion protection rivals that of zinc-nickel deposits. Furthermore, the process boasts outstanding performance in rigorous corrosion tests, including PV1209 cyclic corrosion, neutral salt spray and official automotive long life driving tests. Its ability to withstand the harshest of conditions makes it an ideal choice for industries seeking robust corrosion resistance.
Customisable performance specifications and appealing aesthetics
The Hiron® electrolyte is not only compatible with both rack and barrel plating lines, ensuring effortless integration into existing plating processes, but it also offers remarkable versatility. Its adaptability allows the iron content to be customised to between 12% and 15%, depending on specific performance requirements. This dynamic feature ensures that the Hiron® process can be tailored to meet the precise needs of various industries, ranging from automotive and heavy machinery to window frames and connectors. At 15% iron content, Hiron® deposits exhibit a remarkable hardness rating of 500 HV, guaranteeing robust protection against wear and tear. Moreover, the Hiron® plating process has an attractive silver appearance, akin to that of traditional zinc-nickel coatings. Its heat resistance and even thickness distribution make it suitable for silver and black coatings. It is therefore an excellent option for products requiring a specific aesthetic finish.
Environmental friendliness and high plating efficiency
One of the standout features of the Hiron® process is its eco-friendliness. Unlike traditional electrolytes, it’s free from toxic materials and does not form cyanide, making it an environmentally responsible choice. Additionally, the Hiron® electrolyte ensures high plating efficiency without the typical efficiency degradation observed in alkaline zinc-nickel electrolytes. As a zinc-nickel alternative, the Hiron® process makes products significantly more sustainable and minimises the use of hazardous materials.
Outstanding adhesion and conductivity performance
Hiron® coatings excel in adhesion, outperforming even zinc-nickel and other electrolytic zinc solutions. The industry has long recognised their superior adhesion performance on ZnFe with 0.5% iron incorporation. These coatings perform exceptionally well in lacquer adhesion, and crosshatch tests, and exhibit remarkable creepage resistance – enhancing their durability for various applications with sealers, topcoats and e-coatings.
The exceptional conductivity of Hiron® coatings further amplifies their outstanding performance, making them a reliable choice for emerging markets like eMobilty, as well as for other applications that require conductive layers.
In addition, early white haze development poses a challenge for customers and tiers. When combined with suitable passivates under optimal conditions, the Hiron® process can delay white haze formation by up to 600 hours, particularly on silver finishes. The product, with its deep black aesthetic finish and high scratch resistance, also surpasses zinc and zinc-nickel plated parts in terms of appearance and durability.
The latest development in black passivates and post-dip for the Hiron® electrolyte imparts an attractive, deep black aesthetic finish to the coatings. Notably, the black Hiron® process sequence demonstrates excellent resistance against corrosion and acidic environments, minimising the occurrence of white haze in corrosion tests. This includes 240 hours or more of white rust resistance in NSST ISO 9227 tests.
The future of corrosion protection
The groundbreaking high iron electrolyte addresses the need for safe and effective alternatives to nickel-based coatings. Its exceptional corrosion protection, adaptable performance specifications, and environmentally friendly nature, position the process as a genuine innovation in the world of corrosion protection solutions. As industries begin to prioritise sustainability and environmental responsibility, the Hiron® process is emerging as a compelling choice for enhancing product longevity and performance.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
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