Metal finishing describes the process of changing the surface of a metal part or object. Finishing often includes applying some type of coating to the surface of the metal. It can also refer to the process of cleaning, polishing, and improving the surface of the part. In some cases, the finishing process is necessary to improve the finished product, and in others, it’s purely for aesthetics.
Benefits of Metal Finishing
The appearance of a finished product is often important, even if it’s a functional project rather than a decorative piece. Cleaning, polishing, and removing defects will result in a more professional, attractive finished product that most customers will appreciate.
Aside from changing the appearance of a finished product, there are many other important reasons for finishing metal:
- Increasing Durability. From corrosion resistance to improving wear and weather resistance, many finishing options serve as a layer of protection from the outside world. An outer coating can protect the metal from water or freezing conditions as well as from high heat. It can also provide protection from chemicals and other corrosion-causing conditions.
- Improving Conductivity. Some electrical processes can lead to melting or overloading. A protective coating will enable the product to be used in a variety of functions that require a current. Metal finishing procedures can also be used to enhance the solderability of metal pieces.
- Removing Surface Flaws. Aside from appearance, surface flaws can also impact the ability of the finished product to perform properly. Finishing will smooth pieces to boost their overall efficiency and performance. Finishing can also serve as the priming process to promote better paint adhesion and a smoother final product.
Different Types of Metal Finishing
Metal fabricators employ a variety of techniques to achieve the right metal finish for each project. Some of these techniques involve changing the metal’s surface, while others include adhering products to the exterior surfaces. Here are several of the most common finishing processes and the results each delivers.
- Grinding. This is the most basic finishing option. It smooths sharp edges and removes surface imperfections. While grinding will ensure that the piece is smooth, it’s not the most attractive finish. Grinding is the right choice for many industrial projects or for parts that will receive further work.
- Brushing. Abrasive belts or brushes rub on the surface of the metal to remove imperfections and burrs. The result is a consistent, uniformly grained textured appearance that is more pleasing than simply grinding surface imperfections away.
- Buffing. This process is similar to brushing. Rather than a textured grain finish, the result is a perfectly smooth finish with a natural gloss or shine. The result is a uniform luster that can soften the look of finished metal for a pleasing appearance.
- Metal Plating. Electroplating uses electricity to bond a thin layer to the surface of the metal. Electroless plating achieves a similar result using a chemical reaction. Plating creates a long-lasting finish that is ideal for improving the durability and efficiency of the final product.
- Powder Coating. This process melts a plastic powder that will bond to the surface of the metal. The coating can be tinted to virtually any color. A glossy or matte finish can also be chosen to achieve the right look. Powder coating also provides protection from harsh elements to create a long-lasting finished product.
Making the Right Choice
Finishing metal components can make them stronger and more visually appealing. If you’re not sure which finish is best for your project, our customer service team can help. We always start by understanding how the piece will be used and the conditions it will be used under. That way, we can recommend the best finish to achieve the longest-lasting and most attractive results.