Applications and Materials Selection in the Electronics Industries

Amount of Nickel Used

According to a study by Pariser, in 2009 the amount of nickel used in the electrical and electronics industry sector was 12.5% of total nickel production, about 155,000 tons.  However, much of that tonnage was for stainless steels in home appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washing machines, domestic cooking appliances, refrigerators and freezers, and other small electronics goods.  Much of this nickel thus included was not strictly an electrical/electronic application, but either for corrosion resistance to water (e.g. dishwashers) or for decorative function (exteriors of for example refrigerators).  For purely electrical/electronic usage, the total nickel usage is probably closer to 5% of total nickel production.

While the total nickel content of any electronic system may only be 1 or 2% of the total weight, nickel-containing components are chosen because of key properties necessary for the economic operation of the system.

Nickel-Containing Materials

These are some of the nickel-containing materials used in the electronics industry and potential properties of interest.

Family of Material Alloys / UNS nbr. Useful Properties (may not be applicable to all alloys)
  • Nickel-irons
  • Nickel-cobalt irons
  • Nickel chromium irons
  • K94100 / Alloy 42
  • K93600 / Alloy 36
  • K94610 / Alloy F15
  • K94760 / Alloy 426
  • K94600 / Alloy 46
  • N14052 / Alloy 52
  • Low thermal expansion rate, either very low or matching other materials such as ceramics, various glasses for sealing purposes
  • Relatively high thermal conductivity
    Good electrical conductivity
  • Ferro-magnetic properties
  • Strength, including at slightly elevated temperatures; can be cold worked for higher stiffness and strength
  • Can be soldered, brazed or welded
  • Can be plated with different metals
  • Can be clad with other metals
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Very good formability
  • C.P. nickel alloys
  • N02200 / Alloy 200
  • N02201 / Alloy 201
  • N02205 / Alloy 205
  • N02233 / Alloy 233
  • N02270 / Alloy 270
  • N02290 / Alloy 290
  • Ferro-magnetic properties
  • Relatively high thermal conductivity
  • Good electrical conductivity
  • Strength, including at slightly elevated temperatures; can be cold worked for higher stiffness and strength
  • Can be soldered, brazed or welded
  • Can be plated with different metals
  • Can be clad with other metals
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Very good formability
  • Nickel-plating
 
  • As above
  • Electroless nickel (EN) for high hardness
  • Nickel-containing copper alloys
  • C72500
  • C72600
  • C77000
  • C72900
  • High strength, can be cold worked for higher strength and stiffness, resistant to stress relaxation, high fatigue strength
  • High electrical conductivity
  • High thermal conductivity
  • Can be plated with different metals
  • Can be easily soldered and brazed
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Very good formability
  • Nickel-containing stainless steels
  • S30100 / 301
  • S30400 / 304
  • S30403 / 304L
  • S31603 / 316L
  • High strength, can be cold worked for high strength and stiffness
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Good properties at elevated temperatures, including strength, oxidation resistance
  • Lower thermal conductivity
  • Can be plated with different metals
  • Can be welded, soldered and brazed
  • Low magnetic permeability in annealed condition
  • Nickel beryllium titanium alloy
  • N03360
  • Age hardening for high strength and stiffness for springs, clamps, valves, contacts, etc. 
  • Ni-containing solders (tin-copper)
  • Used in some lead-free solders