Whether you’re familiar with them or not, there’s no doubt you’ve encountered metal coatings in your daily life. Metal coatings are prevalent in many industries, but many people still don’t understand the basics of the process.
In our helpful guide, we’ll explain what you should know about metal coatings, from their function to their benefits and standard coating methods.
The Function of Metal Coatings
A metal coating is when metal components or objects are covered in a protective or decorative material layer. There are many different processes of coating an object in metal, specific to certain industries or environments.
There are many different processes and forms of metal coating because so many industries use the technology, like:
Some industries use a metal coating to protect metal components, while others use it to create a decorative finish and make the substrate more attractive to buyers.
The Benefits of Metal Coatings
So, why do so many industries and businesses utilize metal coating technology? One of the vital things you should know about metal coatings is that they offer many benefits, the prime advantage being the added durability and protection they provide to metal components.
Metal components with a coating are much more protected against general corrosion, galvanic corrosion from electrical contact, and stress cracking. But it’s not just functional; the metal coating is a simple way to add a decorative finish or polish to a component and even helps electrical conductivity for industrial applications.
The Methods of Metal Coating
There are many different processes for coating a substrate in metal, and many are specific to the industry. One of the most common methods is electroplating: a positively-charged electrical current passes through a solution containing dissolved metal ions, and then a negative electrical current passes through the metallic component.
Another standard method is electroless plating, which is essentially the same as electroplating but uses a reduction agent in the plating solution instead of electricity. Vacuum metalizing is one of the most effective metal coating methods for industrial and decorative applications.
The Metal Coating Process of Vacuum Metalizing
Vacuum metalizing is prevalent in metal coating, especially in the electronics industry for both consumer electronics and heavy-duty equipment. Essentially, vacuum metalizing evaporates the coating material in a vacuum chamber, condensing it onto the substrate to produce a thin film of material (typically aluminum).
There are many benefits to vacuum metalizing over other metal coating processes, mainly that it’s affordable and environmentally friendly. The process is straightforward and performed within a pressurized chamber, so it requires minimal labor and doesn’t produce harmful chemical fumes.