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Electroless nickel Plating – A sit down with our experts

Anti-corrosion, Automation, corrosion protection, deposits, Diffused Nickel Plating, Electroless nickel, Electroless Nickel Plating, ENP, extreme environment protection, Ni-PTFE, robot, Surface Treatment
Lee Marriot, Production Manager for ENP (left) and Steve Whitehead, Technical Manager & Specialist in ENP (right)

Electroless Nickel Plating (ENP) is one of the specialist sub-contract services we offer at CBE+. Not many businesses in the UK offer the treatment, CBE+ has some of the UK’s leading experts working in the area.

Our Marketing Executive Katie Andrews sat down with Lee Marriott, ENP Production Manager & Steve Whitehead, Technical Manager for ENP, who both have over 20 years experience in the area, to find out more about the journey of CBE+’s Electroless Nickel Plating division.


Katie: Where did the electroless nickel plating process originate?

Steve: As with most things in science, electroless nickel plating was discovered by accident in France around 1844 by Charles Adolf Wurtz. Wurtz was responsible for many significant discoveries in his time, most notably the Wurtz reaction to form carbon to carbon bonds. Electroless Nickel Plating was then picked up and patented by Francois Auguste Roux, who uses both Hypo and ortho phosphites as a catalyst. It generated little interest until 1946 when Dr Abner Brenner and Grace E Riddel in the U.S. again re-discovered the plating process by accident and the rest is history….

Katie: Tell me a little bit about the history of NiTEC/ CBE+ ENP?

Lee: NiTEC was founded In Clay Cross by Mike Burns in 1978. Burns gave his employees the opportunity to hold shares in the company. His employees took the initiative to grow the then small business into a larger enterprise, which is our ENP facility today.

Katie: What have been the challenges of moving site and changing names?

Steve: Operationally, changing names had little effect on production but the NiTEC brand was established and highly recognised in the marketplace. Our sales & marketing teams had to do a lot of work communicating the rebranding to customers and the public to ensure the brand heritage and expertise wasn’t lost in communication. This is still ongoing; we just have to keep spreading the word.

Lee: The move was a very challenging period for the business, for reasons too numerous to go into! NiTEC (now CBE+ ENP) is renowned for plating components that other companies wouldn’t attempt, and executing with the highest quality. Needless to say, when we encountered challenges with the move, our dedicated and experienced team didn’t shy away from the issues. We met obstacles head on and even found a new van driver for the move. Our CEO, Marie Cooper.

Katie: What improvements have come from the changes in 2022?

Lee: We are now operating as one team in harmony at Enterprise Drive,  the other capabilities of the business provide complementary manufacturing processes which gives us the leading edge on a sales front as well as working as one team on one site. Being together on the on the same site as our central functions, eliminates waste and allows things to operate more smoothly.

The main change, the move, has given us opportunity to have the facility we always wanted. This project continues today as we have lots to still do in our journey of continuous improvement to remain the leader in our field. Being the best is as important to us as it is to the business because to this day, we still get a buzz when we succeed where our rivals refuse to go.

Katie: Where is Electroless Nickel Plating heading at CBE+?

Steve: We are heading upwards. We have gotten to where we are today by thinking differently, for example where other plating shops will see a job and say, “How do you expect us to do that?” we will look and say “Right, how are going to get this done”. Thinking differently will continue to push our growth going forward and this will be shown as we make facility improvements and additions to our production capability and capacity in the form of our new robot driven plant.