Metal Surface Treatments Understanding the Difference

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-10-19      Origin: Site

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Metal surfaces easily rust and corrode when exposed to harsh environments. For this reason, you need to enhance their durability and protect them from these effects using surface treatments. Basically, think of them as the after process for providing a thin layer of protection to ensure the metal parts do not rust. Metal surface treatments to only act as protection, but also as a way to improve the overall appearance of the metal surface. You might find the selection process of metal surface daunting; let's explore the most popular metal surface treatments in the current market.


This is a process where one metal is plated on the surface of another metal through hydrolysis. You can use electroplating for decorative and protective purposes. The hydrolysis helps with dissolving the metal so that it acts as a coating layer on the electrode. This process also allows you to enhance the features of your metal surface which improves the quality of the product. Electroplating can make metal surfaces thicker through electroforming. Materials suitable for this process are chromium, gold, copper, nickel, tin, and silver.

Electroless Plating

Electroless plating is almost similar to electroplating. The main difference is that it uses a chemical current instead of an electric one. The plated metal piece is placed in a reducing agent which is catalyzed using different materials. This process allows for changing of metal ions into metal, then deposits them on the plated part. Common applications of this process are in plastics, while the most common technique is nickel plating. You can also use gold, silver, and copper.

Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatment is a process that creates a film of sulfide or oxide using a chemical reaction. It is commonly used during metal coloring, corrosion prevention, and priming the

surface. The three common treatment processes are pickling, chemical polishing, and chromatin. The common treatment for steel parts is black oxide. It removes the free iron from steel parts for them to be corrosion-free.


Anodic Oxidation

Anodic oxidation produces an oxide film or metallic substrate that acts as a protective layer. The process removes the electrons from the object and oxidizes the node. The process is common for light metals like titanium and aluminum. The oxide films are developed through electrolysis. Since they are more porous, you need to use dyeing or coloring agents to improve the appearance of the surface. Other materials can create a thicker ceramic coating on the metal surface.

Hot Dipping

With hot dipping, you need to dip your object into the dissolved metal to form the coating. The commonly melted metals are lead, zinc, tin, or aluminum. The molten metals need to have a relatively lower melting point for them to work effectively. The method has been commonly used in Japan and is known as tempura. Even though this procedure itself is simple, it needs a certain skill set to successfully do it. Most industries that do it have gone the automation way as that is the surest way to ensure safety to whoever is doing it.

Despite this, care still needs to be taken so no accidents are involved. The method is preferred because it is the surest way to prevent corrosion to the treated object. It has proven to be very effective over the years.

Vacuum Plating

Vacuum plating uses a chamber with a high vacuum to deposit metal on a surface. The coating is applied through vaporization. Since there is no pressure in the chamber, the temperature goes really high, making the layer condensate and coat the substrate being treated. Various heating methods, like plasma beams, resistance heating, or electron beams, are also used to hasten the process.