More and more industrial sectors make use of metals such as nickel in high noble alloys. These sectors can be jewelry, odontology, coin manufacturing, among others.

However, nickel can cause production problems, both functional and aesthetic, but it can also cause health problems due to the release of nickel and its contact with the skin. This is the main reason why the nickel content in objects intended to be in contact with human skin is usually regulated nationally and internationally.

In today’s blog we tell you a little more about nickel release.

Why does the nickel release occur?

Nickel release is produced by the release of metal ions that takes place in changing environments, such as temperature, sweat, friction with other materials, and so on.

In the jewelry sector, for example, the main cause that causes the release of nickel is the direct contact of the Metal-Ni alloys that make up the object with sweat, more specifically with sodium chloride (NaCl). This is because the salt corrodes the metal, causing the nickel to be released as Ni +.

Most common problems that nickel release can cause

Both on an industrial level and on a daily basis, the presence of nickel in certain objects can present a wide variety of drawbacks. Here are the most common problems caused by nickel release:

  • Loss of property

    In the industrial field, it is very important to obtain materials with suitable properties for the final use of the product. Products that contain nickel or nickel alloys in their composition may have a loss of properties if the metal is released. For example, in a heat exchanger it would result in the decrease in resistance to heat and corrosion that nickel provides.

  • Production failures

    In some production processes the appearance of nickel is not always desired. Nickel can migrate from lower layers to the surface of an object due to poor coverage of the upper layers. These defects can occur for various reasons, either due to poor coverage or chemical imbalances.

  • Health effects

    The human body has different types of response to contact with certain metals, such as nickel. The skin can present reactions that can remain in a green stain or develop forming an immune response, for example through the appearance of dermatitis.

  • Nickel in food

    There are various ways in which heavy metals such as nickel reach our food, among them, it is worth highlighting industrial processes and the use of brass accessories or stainless steel utensils such as casseroles. The increase of nickel in food is not detectable with the naked eye, however, an intake of large concentrations of nickel could have serious consequences on our health.

How do we solve the nickel release in ATRIA?

At ATRIA we have a forensic engineering team that has faced the challenge of finding ways to avoid nickel-related failures.

Next, we detail the strategy to follow to solve the failures caused by the release of nickel:

  1. Search for the origin of the problem: Analysis of both internal and surface composition of the material and its physical properties. For this, we have equipment such as the FIB-SEM, potentiostat, among others.
  2. Carrying out prototype tests with deposition of new layers: Investigation of new materials to cover the study material with different layers and check the existence of nickel release.
  3. Testing: Resistance tests against contact with fluids that may affect the release of nickel.
  4. Conclusions and improvement proposal: Evaluation of the key points of the results and proposal of modifications to solve the problem.

Projects carried out by ATRIA

Next, we tell you a couple of cases in which we have worked to solve and prevent the release of nickel.

  • Fallos en joyería por liberación de níquel

El níquel es un metal de gran importancia en el sector joyero, ya que forma parte de la mayoría de las aleaciones en este tipo de productos.

La capa de níquel se encuentra recubierta por, al menos, una capa metálica. Cuando esta capa o capas sufren de corrosión o cualquier otro daño, puede hacer que la capa inferior de níquel quede expuesta y entre en contacto directo con el sudor, pudiendo producir fallos estéticos o reacciones alérgicas, entre otros.


  • Nickel release jewelry failures

Nickel is a metal of great importance in the jewelery sector, since it is part of most of the alloys in this type of product.

The nickel layer is covered by at least one metallic layer. When this layer or layers suffer from corrosion or any other damage, it can expose the lower layer of nickel and come into direct contact with skin, which can cause cosmetic failures or allergic reactions, among others.

  • Potentiostat for corrosion analysis

    Corrosion is and has been a persistent enemy both in industry and in everyday life causing problems such as the release of nickel, so it is necessary to detect it in time to avoid it.

    Equipment such as the potentiostat is capable of doing this through an electrical circuit that indicates the ease with which a material corrodes, as well as the rate of corrosion.

As you have seen, nickel can present problems in various industrial sectors and require preventive solutions through quality control.

Do you want to prevent future problems related to the release of nickel in your products? Contact us!

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