The metal finishing process is a topic that can’t be left untreated as almost everything around us is made of some type of metal or contains a metal part on them. metal has played a key role in our lives for thousands of years till date and its benefits have an effect on every technological innovation. Life would have been very hard and boring without metals, starting automobiles, jewelry, planes, doors, windows, bolts, nuts, etc. are made with metals.
Due to the fact that metals are used to produce decorative items, the final appearance must be appealing. In some situations where the final appearance of an item made of metal is considered finishing process must be performed. In addition to the metal finishing process, it plays an important role in adding to the property of a metal, covering the surface with a thin layer.
Today we’ll be looking at the definition, considerations, types, applications as well as the advantages of metal finishing process.
What is the metal finishing process?
The metal finishing process is the process of placing or applying some type of metal coating on the surface of a metallic part. It is used to treat the exterior of metal products by applying a thin complementary layer to its surface. Metal finishing can also be said to be the implementation of a process for cleaning, polishing, or enhancing metal surfaces.
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Things to Consider before choosing a Metal Finishing Process
There are a few things to consider when selecting metal finishing techniques for your project. The following stated below are the factors:
- Production speed: how fast will the finishing technique be performed?
- Cost-effectiveness: some finishing machines like vibratory tumblers are very expensive but will offer faster cycle rates.
- The potential for vulcanization is also one factor to be considered.
- Metal properties: if the material is hard metals an intense finishing method like grinding may be required.
Various types of metal finishing processes
The following stated below represent the various techniques of metal finishing:
This metal finishing process is also known as electrodeposition, which is achieved by depositing metal or metal alloy onto the surface of a substrate. An electric current is passed through a liquid that contains dissolved ions and the substrate. This object serves as a cathode and attracts the metal ions in the plating bath. A pretreatment process such as cleaning, rinsing, and stripping is performed by the electroplating process.
Electroless plating is similar to the electroplating finishing method in that the substrate is placed in a liquid solution containing the desired metal, often copper or nickel. Their major difference is the way in which the deposition occurs; the metal coating is applied via chemical reaction instead of electricity. The plating bath normally includes a complexing agent to maintain the metal solution and various which helps to maintain stability. It also increases the bath life.
The finishing process is effective for removing rough edges and some other surface imperfections from metal parts. The parts are placed inside of a bowl or tub which contains a pellet-shaped media. The activation of the bowl aids the vibration action that causes the media and the parts to rub against each other. The vibratory finishing process is ideal for smaller parts with applications such as edge-breaking, cleaning, descaling, burnishing, or polishing.
Passivation is a post-treatment plating process helping to provide additional corrosion protection. It is achieved by using a metal oxide coating that can lengthen the time in which the onset of rust occurs. It also enhances the appearance of the finished part as it is available in a variety of colors.
Cladding is a mechanical process that uses heat and pressure to create a bond between the substrate and the metal coating. it requires the use of specialized equipment which makes it more costly than other metal finishing processes. However, cladding provides a thicker metal coating than either electroplating or electroless plating.
Electrocoating which is also known as e-coating also uses the electrodeposition principle like the electroplating process. The parts are soaked in a solution containing the coating before the introduction of an electric current. But instead of metal ions, the solution contains electrically charged paint or epoxy particles that are deposited on the substrate surfaces. E-coating is often used as a primer coat on metal surfaces before painting in order to promote paint adhesion. It is sometimes used to enhance the appearance of metal parts as it works well on any type of metal.
this is used to produce a black matte finish mostly on automotive parts and firearms, as well as military applications where a protective dark coating is required. it is done by applying a thin black oxide coating on the surface of a substrate which helps to increase the abrasion resistance of the metal part. This metal part is allowed to travel through a series of tanks containing various cleaning agents, caustic materials, and coolants. The hot blackening finishing process is generally performed in large batches, making it perfect for smaller parts.
This is the application of dry powder coating on metal parts instead of using liquid coating. A powder coating provides greater thickness than a liquid coating. this metal finishing process is achieved by combining some list of ingredients that includes pigments, curative, flow modifiers, leveling agents, and other additives to create the powder. The powder is then electrostatically deposited onto the surface of the substrate which is then cured in a specially designed oven. The oven produces a chemical reaction that results in high-link density. This finishing process is also applied to some plastics and other non-metallic substrates.
Electropolishing is an electrochemical metal finishing process that is the opposite way of electroplating. As electroplating involves the deposition of metal irons onto the surface of a substrate, electropolishing is the removal of metal ions from the substrate. It offers a smooth, streamlined surface texture to the workpiece. It is accomplished by dipping the objects into an electrolyte bath which serves as the anode. The object is also exposed to a terminal that provides a DC power supply that serves as the cathode. This process is ideal for removing burrs or small amounts of debris from part surface and eliminating peaks and valleys.
This is also known as sandblasting or bead blasting which combines the cleaning and finishing process together. Abrasive blasting saves time and money. The cleaning, polishing, and finishing action is achieved when high-pressure compressed air is used to project a medium onto the surface of the parts. A wide variety of media such as sand, silicon carbide, glass beads, aluminum steel grit or shot, or organic materials like walnut shells or corn cobs. Typically, harder media is used when more aggressive cleaning action is required while soft materials are used on surfaces that are more susceptible to damage. Pressure control can also prevail in order to adjust and accommodate specific cleaning or finishing requirements.
Buff polishing is performed to clean and smooth the surface of a substrate just as electropolishing. But it does not involve the use of any type of electrochemical reaction instead, a machine equipped with a cloth wheel is used to buff the surface. The process is similar to the buffing done in automobile parts after waxing. The finishing process is applied to provide a glossy, decorative finish to metallic parts.
Mass finishing is also known as mechanical surface finishing, offering a cost-effective way to polish parts in bulk. This finishing process is employed in a wide range of processes in order to provide uniform cleaning, edge-breaking, smoothing, and polishing of smaller components at once. This helps to decrease the production time and also obtain a uniform surface finish on the components. The process also includes tumble finishing and vibratory finishing.
This finishing process is done to reduce metal fatigue and stress, preventing failure caused by corrosion and increasing the durability and lifespan of the parts. The process is achieved by using the ball-peen hammer on the metal object which will dimple the surface. The resulting compression stress will actually strengthen the surface of the material. a piece of special equipment is used to blast small projectiles which is known as a shot. This projectile can be made of ceramic, metal, glass, or other materials.
This finishing process works in a similar way to abrasive blasting. The major difference is that baking soda is applied onto the surface of the material instead of abrasive media. This process is effective in removing grease, oil, rust, paint, and other surface contaminants. Soda blasting also offers a gentler cleaning action than abrasive blasting. For these reasons, it is usually employed on surfaces that are vulnerable to scratching.
This process helps to protect a metal surface and makes it harder. It is a metallurgical process that adds protection through surface modification which can be achieved by one of many techniques such as carburizing, nitriding, and micro-casting. All of these processes can offer desired hard case to metal while the underlying metal remains relatively soft. Case hardening helps to increase the durability and wear resistance of the underlying workpiece.
Tumble Slurry Blasting:
Tumble slurry blasting is also called wet blasting due to the fact that it uses hot water to provide the desired cleaning or surface preparation outcome. It is a three-part process that involves the application of alkali hot water to prepare the surface, and the blasting of an abrasive slurry onto the surface. Finally using another alkali hot water application to rinse the part. This process is totally different from other blasting processes as a high-speed-blast wheel is used to drive the slurry instead of compressed air.
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Parts cleaning is a very important process necessary for removing contaminants before the implementation of other industrial metal finishing processes. ultrasonic washing is one of the most common cleaning methods where high-frequency sound waves are used to produce an intensive scrubbing action. This action helps to remove stubborn contaminants and debris.
Industrial Applications of metal finishing processes
The following listed below represent the applications of the metal finishing process:
- Heavy equipment
The following stated below represent the benefits of applying finishing treatment to metal products:
- Cleaning, polishing, and removing surface defects
- Increased durability
- Reduce the impact of corrosion
- Improved decorative appeal
- Enhanced electrical conductivity
- Increasing solderability
- Higher electrical resistance
- increasing wear resistance
- Higher chemical resistance
- Reducing friction effects
- Higher tarnish resistance
- Potential for vulcanization
- Strengthening the substrate
That’s it for this article “Everything you need to know about industrial metal finishing processes”. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly comment and share. Thanks!