The Importance of Metal Finishing and Processing
From aerospace to automotive, firearms to semiconductors, and even fashion and cosmetics, the metal components used to create the products in these respective industries have one big thing in common: they’ve been professionally finished.
Whether it’s to meet specific regulatory standards, improve the overall aesthetic or increase overall part durability, the benefits of metal finishing are important and far-reaching. The bottom line is that they can significantly help improve the quality of the part. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the importance of administering metal finishing and processing on metal parts – from the benefits to the various types of metal finishing technologies that can be used. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know:
The Benefits of Metal Finishing and Processing
Let’s start by discussing some of the key benefits of metal finishing, and why just about every industry uses finishing technologies to some degree. Here’s a look at some of the key benefits associated with metal finishing and how such practices actually improve overall part quality:
Improved durability is perhaps the biggest advantage of metal finishing. Sometimes, the specified finish is actually harder or more durable than the part itself. And due to smooth and even surface finishes available, the coefficient of friction is lowered elongating the life of the part. When metals are left untreated, they tend to wear or fail at a much faster rate than if they were treated. This doesn’t just significantly impact the quality of the end product, but also the overall end-user experience that they have with said product.
To piggyback off the previous point, corrosion contributes largely to accelerated wear and the breakdown that unfinished metal parts will experience. It is inherent of most metals to develop some type of corrosion, whether it be rust or oxidation. Metal finishing can dramatically increase the life expectancy and dependability of a component. For industries where reliability is critical such as the medical, aerospace and defense, the integrity of a part cannot be questioned. Metal finishing is absolutely required regardless of the metal it is made from.
Another key benefit of metal finishing is the improved aesthetics. A controlled and uniform finish significantly can greatly improve its overall appearance. Customers can request a glossy, matte, or textured finish – and many metal finishing processes also enable the coloring of the part. Different quality requirements help dictate which process will be used/ required to achieve the desired result.
Types of Metal Finishing Technologies
There are a variety of metal finishes that can be administered and the technology that’s chosen should largely be dependent on the overall goal of the end part. All metal finishing technologies have their advantages and disadvantages, yet two of the most popular are anodizing and phosphating. Here’s a brief overview of each and some of the key benefits they can help a metal part achieve.
Anodizing is ideal for finishing aluminum parts. It consists of processing the aluminum part in an electrolyte bath, thereby creating an oxide layer that’s typically anywhere from 5 to 30 microns in thickness on the part upon removal. The key benefits of anodizing include enhanced part durability and corrosion resistance and improved aesthetic.
There are various sub-sectors of anodizing that can be deployed. There’s high-precision anodizing, which is ideal for higher-quality components. And there’s also high-efficiency anodizing, which tends to be best for larger bulk part runs.
Phosphating is an ideal metal finishing technique for steel parts. Commonly used in industries that include automotive and aerospace, the biggest advantage associated with phosphating is the end part’s enhanced strength and performance. It’s also ideal for parts that require close tolerance and minimal defects.
Phosphating is a conversion coating, and it can also be used as a pretreatment in conjunction with other metal finishing methods. Phosphating consists of processing the metal part in a dilute solution, which thereby changes the surface of the metal.
Other Finishing Services
There are a variety of other finishing services that manufacturers can administer. Some of these include:
- Abrasive blasting
It’s easy to see the benefits of metal finishing, especially when you consider how many metal parts and components play such a key role in our everyday lives. It’s also important to work with a high-quality metal finishing service provider to ensure you’re able to take advantage of these finishing technologies to the fullest and craft the best possible part.