Cliche as it may sound, but truly, prevention is better than cure. The same is true with any fabrications, especially in the metal stamping industry. Metals are subject to wear and tear, corrosion, environmental hazards, etc. Several processes in stamping help minimize these potential metal failures- one of these is metal surface treatment or metal finishing that can provide further metal protection.
It is beneficial and essential for us to know its applications on metals depending on its corrosiveness, potential exposures, and more. In the long run, surface treatment can save us more funds and less production time. This article will go deeper into the importance, advantages, and commonly used types of metal surface treatment.
What is a metal surface treatment?
Metal surface treatment is creating and applying a layer or physical barrier to protect the metal before coating takes place. This process involves metal cleaning, deburring, polishing, and so on. Not only can it increase the structural integrity of the metal, but it is also capable of enhancing these parts or components aesthetically.
But of course, there are some factors to consider when doing metal surface treatment- such as production speed, cost-efficiency, and metal durability. You have to make sure that everything is aligned with the company’s goal and application to the metal parts. That’s why careful planning is advised from the start of metal stamping production up to surface treatment.
To keep you on the course, here are the steps of metal surface treatment:
- First, you need to clean the surface from the stamping compounds and mill oils.
- And then, apply organic or inorganic sealer.
- Rinse with water through deionization.
- Lastly, to remove the moisture, you may place it in an oven or let it dry.
Why use surface treatment for metals?
Producing and designing precision metal stamped parts are crucial. Thus, planning a surface treatment option is necessary. This process adds up the lifespan of metal- making it more substantial in the usage of other industries. Moreover, it can expand your company knowing that you are offering quality stamped parts.
Aside from the statement above, there are so many reasons why we should use surface treatment for metals, and these are all worth knowing:
- Inhibits corrosion – rust-free metals are a good sign of reliable material for any application. Stamped parts must have high corrosion resistance against galvanic, pitting, and crevice corrosion.
- Improves the appearance – surface treatment makes metals more pleasing and aesthetically well-balanced for decoration purposes. It can either be matte or shiny, emboss or plain, etc.
- Improves durability – as mentioned earlier, it extends the life of metal. It hardens the part’s surface, which is highly needed in producing stamped parts of medical equipment, construction materials, and automobile parts.
- Enhances electrical properties, tarnish resistance, and chemical resistance – these benefits provide impeccable advantages in increasing the value of the metal.
What industries use metal surface treatments?
Nearly all the things we see, use, and build are the product of surface treatment on metal stamping of parts and components of the whole equipment. Industries like electronic, medical, industrial, aerospace, communication, and other companies utilize this process to better their tools, items, and equipment.
For example, in electronic industries, we use it in caps, connectors, sensors, shelves, and more, which you can see in mobile phones, computers, and appliances. In the medical field, we use surface treatment for stamped parts of lab equipment such as device pumps, monitors, surgical devices, etc.
And the lists continue because our era today mainly depends on the services and processes alongside metal stamping to produce customized and quality metal parts.
Choice of Material & Relative Finishes
Now that we have dug deeper into the importance and advantages of metal surface treatment, it is now the time for you to have an idea of choosing the suitable method for the right material.
As we all know, different materials and products require other surface treatments. We have a lot of various types, but the list below will show you the eight (8) common metal surface treatments for stamped parts that generally fabricate high-quality results:
Electroplating is a chemical process that involves the application of a thin metallic coating on the main metal surface using an electric current. This method is a widely used surface treatment due to its versatility- from micro components to large products. It aims to protect the metal against corrosion, improve the surface value, and magnify its physical appearance.
Metal parts of laboratory and medical equipment, home appliances, and automotive utilize this kind of treatment. In addition, electroplating is applicable mostly with various metals such as:
- Standard metals (e.g., copper, nickel, tin, zinc)
- Precious metals (e.g., gold, silver, palladium, rhodium)
- Hard chromium and cadmium
In contrast to electroplating, electroless plating does not operate with electric current; instead, it uses a chemical reaction to apply metal coating on the subject metal (or what we call “substrate”). Its application is smoother and more uniform than electroplating. It is more cost-efficient in the overall process as well.
The metal which is fairly used in this surface treatment is nickel. These products supply most components for the aviation and space flight industry and other industries like firearms manufacturers. Electroless plating is also beneficial to stamped metal parts like:
This surface treatment is also known as powder coating- wherein a smooth protective film is applied in the substrate through compressed air producing powdered material that is melted later on. It benefits stamped metals by making them highly scratch-and-crack resistant, corrosion-resistant, and valuable as a metal coloring.
The automotive industry broadly uses chemical coating for its parts and components- making it ideal for clients’ preferences. Additionally, the material for this type of surface treatment is aluminum and steel.
Anodizing is using electrolytic oxidation of a metal surface, creating a protective film of the oxide coating. It is great as a metal surface treatment to minimize wear and tear predicaments, resist corrosion, and make metal parts remarkably stronger and more complex.
On the other hand, it is not for stamped parts with rough and damaged surfaces because it can only coat uniformly. And it is limited to aluminum metal parts.
This surface treatment is also known as hot dipping. It is coating stamped parts of steel and iron by dipping them in a bath of molten zinc. Through this treatment, metal parts are most likely to be highly corrosion-resistant. The hot doping method is popular with industries fabricating consumer appliances and automotive metal parts.
Vacuum metalization is the process of applying protective metal barriers to smoothen stamped parts. This surface treatment requires metal to be inside a jar or container where spraying of the metal coating occurs. It has a mirror-like finish suitable for decorative and design purposes- especially in the aerospace and automotive industry. Aluminum is the key metal for this method.
Painting has many applications, such as spray painting, electrostatic painting, electric-conductive painting, lubricant coating, and many more. This surface treatment provides excellent defense against corrosion and rust and enhances the appearance of any metal stamped components.
This surface treatment increases metal parts’ ability to eliminate or minimize scratching, peeling, and cracking on metal surfaces through the coating of melted and heated metals. It is used as a primer for large structural metal stamped parts.
Metal surface treatment has a significant effect on metal stamping. It can enhance and increase stamped parts from its durability, corrosion resistance, aesthetic properties, and so on. Quality-wise, it benefits all manufacturers, suppliers, and clients. No wonder that this method must be planned carefully.
But just a heads up, everyone must be aware that metal surface treatment on stamped parts has factors to consider. To prevent unnecessary results, you should review a few things like- the duration of time and when you need things to finish, your company and partner’s goal, the requirements needed for the product.
Always make sure not to compromise the precision of metal stamped parts and have enough time to decide on what type of surface treatment can add value to your product and build your reputation. For your metal stamping needs, visit us.