Metal Surface Treatments

KDM offers unique surface treatment services for your sheet metal fabrication projects.

KDM Metal Surface Treatments

Metal surface treatment is performed when metal parts and components are ready for painting. The process can protect the metallic components from corrosive environments. It can also improve the appearance and enhance electrical and mechanical properties.

KDM offers different surface treatments for all metallic parts and components. These finishing processes play a vital role in the fabricating process:

  • Electroplating, Electroless Plating
  • Chemical Treatment, Anodic Oxidation, Vacuum Plating
  • Painting, Hot Dipping, and Thermal Spraying

Whether you are working in the semiconductors, healthcare, or robotics industry, KDM will work with your team to engineer and design the equipment you need. If you need specialized surface treatment for your custom machinery component, KDM is the right place.

We provide the following treatment services for your metal fabrication projects:

Powder Coating on Metal: It can add durability, withstand damages, and add a life warranty.

Enamel Paint: KDM provides enamel paint on a metal sheet. This painting provides a strongly smooth, brittle texture, and glossy finish.

Reflective Paint for Metal: The reflective paint covers a metal surface to get a reflection effect. Widely used for metal roofing, curtain walls, siding, benches, handrails, etc.

Metal Anodizing: It is an electrochemical process that gives the metal surface more durable, decorative, anodic oxide finish, and corrosion-resistant.

Silk Screen Print on Metal: Applying elements and paints are involved in silk screening. This coating can achieve scratching and fading resistance.

Engraving on Metal: It allows us to produce parts and components with your brand, logo, or part number, along with our high-end laser machines.

Etching on Metal: Ideal process to create small parts and components with 0.0005 inches to 0.05 inches thickness.

Metal Surface Treatments- A Unique FAQ Guide

It’s often difficult to know how to clean and treat metal surfaces (especially those with potential health risks).

With such limitations in mind, we have made it easier by providing a ‘Read this first’ section for new readers of metal surface treatments.

The Metal Surface FAQ Guide will help you quickly & easily find out all the basic facts about treating your metal surface!

What Are Metal Surface Treatments?

Metal surface treatments are the entire system of processes carried out to protect, improve and optimize the appearance of metal surfaces.

This also helps to maintain or enhance their aesthetic appeal. The process can be done using either an electrochemical reaction or a chemical reaction.

Metal surface treatment is a broad field that includes electroplating and chromate conversion coatings for corrosion protection, shot blasting for surface conditioning and priming, etc.

Metal Surface TreatmentsMetal Surface Treatments

Types Of Surface Treatments For Metals

In an age when humankind uses more and more metal, and we are surrounded by metal, good surface treatment is necessary.

A good surface treatment results in better corrosion protection improves the material’s appearance, reduces friction, and increases its wear resistance.

Since metals have many surface treatments, each type has its characteristics. These characteristics affect not only the quality but also the durability of the product that is manufactured with that kind of treatment.

Everyone knows metal surface treatments can be very harmful and dangerous to health. Metal surface treatments can also cause extensive damage to metal surfaces, thus making them more susceptible to corrosion and metal loss.

Metal surface treatments increase metal surfaces’ permeability and allow excessive corrosion that affects BOTH the surfaces and their surrounding environment.

        i.  Electrolytic Polishing

The Electrolytic Polishing technique is used in metal surface treatment to finish the surface of the steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and other metals. It leaves a bright, shiny finish behind when this is done correctly.

The process involves rinsing the metal with a water solution containing copper sulfate.

A cathode applied to the metal surface produces a controlled amount of current that breaks down or dissolves the copper salts and re-deposits them on the metal as a skinny layer of copper.

The benefits of Electrolytic Polishing are that it removes rust and stains, making the surface look new. It also prevents the paint from cracking due to oxidation.

This process cannot change the overall color of a metal surface, although it can remove some paint or stain. It also won’t remove rust stains in those cases when they have penetrated the metal and created pitting.

Electro-Polishing

Electro-Polishing

      ii.  Plating

Plating is the method of depositing a thin layer of one metal on top of another. Using electroplate, you can now plate on harder, more robust, and more wear-resistant materials.

The hardest of these is Titanium (Ti), followed by Tungsten Carbide (WC), and finally High Nickel Alloy (HCA).

a)  Electro Plating

Electroplating is the process of plating metal onto a conductive layer to create a decorative finish.

It is done by electroplating, which uses an electric current to transfer metal ions from the solution onto the metal surface.

b)  Electroless Plating

It is most often used in metal surface treatments to reduce friction and wear on high-stress parts, increase lubricity, reduce corrosion, and improve electrical conductivity.

Electroless plating is a coating that requires minimal heat and contains no lead.

c)  Vacuum Plating

Vacuum plating is generally used in metal surface treatments to reduce costs, increase productivity, and simplify production processes.

Vacuum plating is depositing a thin layer of metal onto a metal surface by chemical and electrochemical reactions.

    iii.  Cleaning/ Brushing

The Cleaning/ Brushing type used in metal surface treatments is to clean and remove the rust, scratches, etc. The steel tools include a Rope wire brush, Carbon steel brush, Brush hooks, etc.

This process can be done manually or with the help of machines. The method used differs according to the type of surface and the age of the paint present on it.

The cleaning/brushing type limitations include no-tack property, low scratch resistance, and poor corrosion resistance.

    iv.  Anodizing

Anodic oxide film improves the bonding of paints, silicon rubber, and epoxy resin to the base metals.

Anodizing is a chemical process that produces a dense, complex, wear-resistant surface layer on aluminum and titanium alloys.

Anodization is limited to non-ferrous base metals. It only provides a thin oxide coating functional layer that limits its adhesion behaviour.

Anodizing may be damaged by rough handling due to small granules, resulting in loss of adhesion between the base metal and functional layer.

Anodizing

Anodizing

      v.  Surface-Hardening

Surface-Hardening type metal surface treatment applies a thin layer of hard metal on the surface of steel or iron to improve wear resistance, corrosion resistance, and adhesion.

The metal used to create the thin layer of coating can be black or white as it will not affect the physical properties of the base metal.

    vi.  Grinding

Grinding
Grinding

Grinding is performed with a grinding wheel, which has embedded abrasives.

The abrasives remove material from the surface of the metal part and cause it to wear away at a molecular level, smoothing out all burrs and removing any undesirable surface flaws.

It smoothed the endurable material, which reduced its roughness to give a better luster.

Metal grinders work best on softer metals such as copper, zinc, and aluminum and cannot effectively handle harder metals such as iron or chrome.

  vii.  Blasting

Blasting can be done on new materials entering the production process, or it can be used in place of cleaning chemicals before painting, plating, or overcoating.

Blasting is a form of surface finishing that involves abrasive particles or media. This approach is used when high quality and high gloss levels are required.

However, it cannot be used in some applications, such as on sensitive surfaces and where extreme surface smoothness is required.

viii.  Hot Blackening

It is a chemical reaction between metal and carbon to form a characteristic layer on the surface of the metal. The layer can prevent rust, enhance corrosion and abrasion and increase conductivity.

The hot blackening treatment can be applied to any non-ferrous alloy and most steels.

The Hot Blackening metal surface treatment is limited because it can only be used on parts that have been sandblasted or acid etched. It cannot be used on paint coating, primer, or lacquer.

    ix.  Painting

Painting is the essential metal surface treatment. It is widely used for protective and decorative purposes since painted metals do not require additional coating and are easy to maintain.

The painting used in metal surface treatments is widely used for steam boilers and pressure vessels, steelmaking furnaces, gas-piping and equipment, pressure vessels involving refrigeration systems, etc.

Electrostatic Painting

Electrostatic Painting

a)  Electrostatic- Coating

Electrostatic coating is a process that involves spraying a thin layer of paint onto a metal surface while electrostatic forces repel the paint. It allows for a smoother application and better adhesion than traditional methods.

b)  Spray Paint

A variety of spray paints are used in metal surface treatments. These include chipping and crackle, automotive rust resistance, metallic, primer, and lacquer. Spray paint, also known as aerosol paint, is a standard coating product to cover metal surfaces.

It has some adverse effects on your health, and it also affects the environment if disposed of improperly.

Metal Surface Treatment Process

Because of so many surface treatments, we are using the method of electroplating used in the surface treatment process.

        i.  Surface Preparation

Surface Preparation

Surface preparation is an important process step in the Metal Surface Treatment Process, where the surface of the metal is prepared to receive a coating. The surface preparation may involve cleaning, coating removal, and mechanical or chemical treatment.

Preparation is done for a good paint finish to achieve good adhesion between primer and substrate.

a)  Cleaning

The first step of preparation is cleaning and removing any paint layer or other solid contaminants from the surface to be coated. Any damage on the surface may have to be repaired as preparation tasks cannot be performed over such damage.

b)  Alkaline Treatment

After cleaning, the metal plates need to be etched with acid or alkali to remove metal oxides and other impurities on the surface to make it smooth, clean, and bright.

c)  Acid Dipping

The Acid Dip process step is the last step of the Metal surface preparation process. It combines a cleaning and pickling of a metal part to remove any remaining dirt, grease, and other contaminants on its surface.

      ii.  Plating

The plating process step in the metal surface treatment process includes three steps, pre-treatment with a degreasing agent, electroplating bath, and rinsing.

In this process, a thin layer of one metal to the surface of another improves its appearance and enhances other properties such as corrosion resistance, lubrication, or wear resistance.

It also involves a process in which metal ions form a compound with anions on a solid surface. The most used base materials are copper, zinc, and nickel alloys because they are more responsive to processing techniques than most other metals.

    iii.  Post Treatment

Post Treatment aims to thoroughly clean and removes oils, waxes, and other contaminants left on the surface of a part by the cleaning process.

a)  Rinse

Rinse cleans away oily substances and other metallic impurities from the surface of parts to better adhesion soldering materials on the final step of electrophoresis.

The primary purpose of the Rinse Step is to remove any remaining plating solution that may be on the part or rinse out any chlorides generated by the electroplating process.

b)  Finishing

It may be a physical or chemical process. The most common finishing treatments involve: Physical treatments include Sandblasting, shot peening, and laser peening. Chemical treatments include Salt bath and anodizing.

Criteria For Choosing Surface Treatment For Metals

Selecting the best metal surface treatment for your facility or operation is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Before beginning selecting a specific process, several criteria should be met first.

        i.  Metal-Hardness

The metal-hardness is an essential criterion for the surface treatment of metals. Hardness determines whether the surface can resist abrasion, corrosion, etc. The Mohs scale usually measures hardness.

Metal-Hardness

Some metal surfaces are inherently strong and do not need a protective coating. However, those metal surfaces that are prone to corrosion but will be exposed to a minimal number of elements must be treated with an appropriate surface treatment.

Corrosion resistance is the most important thing to consider when choosing a surface treatment for metals.

      ii.  Considerations of Coating

The coating used to protect your metal products will depend on many factors, such as product type and usage.

You must consider the best criteria for choosing surface treatment for metals, the material cost, and substrate surface preparation. A common mistake is applying a coating that is too thick or too rough, rendering the fitting unusable.

    iii.  Hard Part Tolerances

The challenging part of tolerances in the criteria for choosing surface treatment for metals are the fundamental differences between steel, aluminum, and copper. The metal type determines the surface treatment method.

Aluminum tends to form three-dimensional corrosion faster than steel and copper. Steel is more prone to corrosion than copper, but it is also more resistant to corrosion than copper or aluminum.

It is impossible to use untreated metal surfaces to produce metal components with tolerances of ±0.01 mm. In general, surface treatment selection for metals depends on these alloys’ mechanical, chemical, and tribological properties.

    iv.  Production Speed

The speed depends on the method used, i.e., whether an immersion process, electrolytic procedure, or powder coating technique is used.

It is essential to consider Production Speed when choosing a surface treatment for metals. If your company has specific production time constraints, you may need to choose from different processes with different production speeds.

It is best to determine which one would be best for your company to determine the total time it takes for each process.

      v.  Process limitations

However, whatever you do, make sure that you consider process limitations when evaluating your options.

Some treatments can be applied easily in specific industrial processes and suffer no ill effects. Others may not work well on these same processes because of the natural properties of the metal.

For example, plating or coating with a high silver content will not likely adhere well to zinc alloys because zinc begins to oxidize as soon as it enters contact with air.

    vi.  Cost-efficiency

Cost-efficiency

The cost of any surface treatment mainly depends on its performance and the labor costs involved. Most surface treatments are not easy; there are many steps involved, and even after the first step, an expensive treatment can be turned into an expensive flop.

Unnecessary costs should be avoided. The keyword here is ‘cost-effective,’ not cheap. Many believe they are the same, but they mean two different things.

When we talk about cost-effectiveness, we mean choosing a method that can produce high-quality results with minimal investment.

Industries Using Metal Surface Treatment

        i.  Automobile Industry

Automobile Industry

The automotive industries use metal surface treatment for different purposes, such as corrosion resistance, anti-corrosion (rust prevention), appearance enhancement, and appearance protection.

The automotive industries use metal surface treatments to manufacture various products. From frames, engine blocks and body panels, wheel rims, and other components of automobile machinery to interior and exterior parts such as hydraulic components and fan blades.

      ii.  Construction Industry

Construction Industry

The metal surface treatment methods used widely in the construction industry are electrodeposition, anodizing, zinc chromate, and chemical conversion coating.

The construction industry is the largest consumer of metal surface treatments, with almost 40 percent of all products used on construction sites.

    iii.  Medical Industry

Medical Industry

The medical industry has been a significant benefactor of metal surface treatment. The process produces a high-quality finish that can be used on surgical instruments and equipment to prevent the spread of infection.

Products that encounter human skin need to be cleaned and disinfected. Metal surface treatments accomplish this by killing bacteria, sticking to metal, and providing a smooth, snag-free surface for products that must be cleaned and disinfected.

    iv.  Electronic Industry

Electronic Industry

Electronic components are mostly made of silicon, and many of them are exposed to the environment.

Silicon is a chemical element that can react with the oxygen in the air, causing contamination and degradation by oxidation or corrosion.

Metal surface treatment of metals has a wide range of applications.

One of the main applications is to protect silicon and other metal alloys against oxidation and corrosion, as they are exposed to moisture, salt, humidity, or oil in the air.

For all your sheet metal fabrication and surface finishing applications, kdmfab is here for you.

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