For the most part it really doesn’t matter what system you use when it comes to Electro or Electroless Nickel Plating. Both perform the same task however, there is something different. The process is relatively simple; it’s the application of Nickel so that it covers something. This is called the substrate and it’s the metal or plastic that you want the Nickel to coat. There are three reasons we use Nickel. Firstly it rarely, if ever, rusts. It is incredibly resistant to rust and that is always a good thing. Rust occurs when water and oxygen are near and cause corrosion. The second reason is that it protects the substrate in a hard shell and allows it to be super conductive of electricity. This is essential on electronics and the components we use. Mobile phones are one example of this. The third part is that it simply makes the substrate look more attractive.
From a technical point of view the difference between the two processes is quite simple. Both need the immersion of the substrate into a solution of Nickel Sulphate and Nickel Ions. For the Ions to become activated in the Electro process a current is sent through the solution activating the Ions and making them want to bond with the substrate that you’d just submersed.
Electroless Nickel Plating uses a chemical agent to wake up the Ions and get them into a mood to bond with the substrate. The reason we use the Electro process is that it’s just easier and cheaper. There is no need to start messing around with costly electrical currents.