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Metal finishings explained

For thousands of years, metal has played an integral part in our lives, having an array of uses, industrial metal finishing being one of the main ones. The metals that we use on a regular basis include copper, tin, zinc, lead and nickel, as well as relatively rare “precious” metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

So, what is metal finishing?

Metal interacts with chemicals so metal finishing changes the surface of metals to be able to resist corrosion by rusting. The damage to metals can come through normal wear and tear, chemicals, and air pollutants. It works by treating the exterior of a metal product by applying a thin complementary layer to its surface.

Some of the benefits of metal finishing include:

– Provides a higher tarnish, electrical and chemical resistance
– Provides an increased durability and lifespan of materials
– Provides an improved decorative appearance
– Provides an enhanced electrical conductivity
– Provides easy cleaning process of metal products
– Reduces Adhesion and contamination
– Limits the impact of corrosion
– Strengthens the substrate and increasing wear resistance
– Makes a surface electrically conductive

There are many different types of metal finishing including electroplating, hot blackening, metal plating, buff polishing, metal grinding, sand blasting, and powder coating. There are different thing you should consider when choosing a metal finishing process. Things to consider include the speed of the production process of the product, the cost effectiveness of the project, the hardness of the metal used and the potential for vulcanisation.
Electroplating

This process involves the deposit of a metal or metal alloy onto the surface of a substrate. An electric current is passed through a liquid (referred to as a “bath”) that contains dissolved ions of the metal and the substrate. The object serves as a cathode and attracts the metal ions found in the plating bath.

As well as metallic surfaces, electroplating can also be used to coat plastics and other non-metallic materials. However, this process is extremely difficult to master and requires specialized plating expertise.

 

Hot blackening

 

This process is most often used to provide a black matte finish on automotive parts and firearms, as well as for military applications where a protective dark coating is required. Hot blackening can also increase the abrasion resistance of a metal part.
It works by spreading a thin layer of black oxide onto a product’s surface to create a matte black finish with high abrasion resistance. It is a high-temperature process in which the product is inserted into a series of tanks containing cleaners, caustics, and coolants.

 

Buff polishing

 

This process can be used to clean and smooth the surface of a substrate. However, buff polishing does not involve creating any type of electrochemical reaction. Instead, a machine equipped with a cloth wheel is used to buff the surface, producing an action that is similar to buffing an automobile after waxing an automobile. Buff polishing is most often applied to provide a glossy, decorative finishing to metallic objects.

 

Sand blasting

 

The process forces sand, steel shots, metal pellets or other abrasives into a substrate at high speed. This results in a smooth, clean product texture, particularly in soft metals. Sand blasting is done by using sand-blasting machines which are typically employed in projects requiring a uniform matte texture.

 

Powder coating

 

Powder coating involves the application of a dry powder instead of using a liquid to coat a metal object. can provide greater thickness than a liquid coating. The powder coating process works by combining an array of ingredients that includes pigments, curatives, flow modifiers, levelling agents and other additives to create the powder. The powder is then electrostatically deposited onto the surface of the substrate. A powder coating can be applied to some plastics and other non-metallic substrates.

 

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To discuss your bespoke requirements on your next project and to receive expert advice, please contact the Aspen Stainless Team; you’ll be glad you did!

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