Fabrication of high hardness Ni mold with electroless nickel–boron thin layer
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The nickel electroforming method using a high-concentration nickel sulfamate bath is commonly used to fabricate micro metal molds in the LIGA process; however, this method does not produce micro metal molds of sufficient hardness. One means of improving the hardness of micro metal molds made using the nickel electroforming method is to include additives in the nickel plating solution. Another method is nickel alloy plating or a similar technique. In this research, we used a nickel–boron (Ni–B) electroless alloy plating method to obtain a hard nickel plated film having hardness of 832 Hv. It was also ascertained that Ni–B electroless alloy plated film retains its high hardness even during heat treatment in conditions of 250°C for 1 h. To deal with the high stresses developed in high-hardness plated films, we proposed double-layer nickel electroforming. This method is covered and used on conventional nickel electroforming layer by high hardness micro mold. High hardness micro metal mold using double-layer was fabricated by nickel electroforming and Ni–B electroless alloy plating method.