Nickel-plated brass: an excellent choice for multilayer pipe fittings
The starting point: brass
Brass is an alloy consisting mainly of Copper (Cu) and Zinc (Zn) which is characterized by high qualities of ductility and malleability, as well as good resistance to corrosion. The machinability of the machine tools is good, but the toughness of the material tends to constitute very long chips: for this reason many times small percentages of lead are added which disperses on the grain edge and causes the reduction of the size of the chip produced, reducing, between the many problems, the overheating of the tools used. Other main elements that can generally be added are:
- Manganese and Silicon: increase resistance to corrosion;
- Iron: increases mechanical resistance;
- Aluminum: increases resistance to corrosion and abrasive wear.
Brass, which has different structures depending on the percentage of zinc, can be used in many applications: in particular, it is used for the realization of various types of fittings and also for the multilayer pipe fittings.
What is nickel plating for?
Nickel plating is a surface treatment that improves the corrosion resistance and durability of the component over time, even in difficult and particularly aggressive environments. There are two main variants of this type of technique:
- Electrolytic nickel plating: can only be carried out on metals and occurs by immersing the component in baths where an electric current passage is created which leads to the surface deposition of a layer of nickel.
- Chemical nickel plating: unlike the previous one, it can be used on many types of materials (metals, glass, polymers, etc). Generally it has a more precise coating that perfectly follows the profile of the product being treated. For this reason it is widely used when machining precision or structural parts: respect for geometry allows to reach a high degree of properties and improve the working life of the component.
A pretreatment suitable for the deposition of the nickel layer is micro shot peening. This operation is essential to homogenise the surfaces and create a minimum state of surface roughness which proves particularly suitable for the adhesion of the deposited surface layer. The hardness of the deposited layer is around 560-600 HV but, with a suitable heat treatment, the system can also reach hardnesses of the order of 1000 HV.
The use of nickel plating in multilayer pipe fittings
The realization of the multilayer pipe fittings in nickel-plated brass brings advantages both from the aesthetic point of view (it has a greater resistance to darkening with the passage of time) and as regards the hardness and resistance to corrosion by very aggressive environments, which can be , for example, the construction sites where the multilayer pipes with their respective fittings are put into operation.
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