Metal Finishing Types: What to ChooseUpdated: October 17, 2023
With all the details and decisions that go into manufacturing a product successfully, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of choosing the proper metal finishing methods for parts. While there are many metal finishing types, all of them essentially involve the process of applying a layer to the surface to treat the exterior of the product. Each method provides different results in addition to a variety of benefits and disadvantages.
Finishing for different metals is completed to achieve the desired look and surface texture of the design. Applying a treatment can also add protection from corrosion and tarnishing and increase thickness, strength, hardness and durability. From improving electrical conductivity or electrical resistance to providing a higher potential for vulcanization, many objectives can be accomplished in the metal finishing process.
The following is a list of common finishing types for metals:
- Plating: A process involving electrolytic passivation creating an anodized coating increasing thickness, hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion.
- Anodizing: A process involving electrolytic passivation creating an anodized coating increasing thickness, hardness and resistance to wear and corrosion.
- Blasting: The operation of propelling grains of abrasives such as sand or beads at a metal surface in a blast to create a smooth and attractive finish.
- Painting: Applying a coating to metals primarily for surface protection and to add color for aesthetics. Paints are an affordable way to protect against corrosion in harsh environments.
- Brushed metal: Using an abrasive belt or wire brush to smooth out surface defects and slightly round edges. This process creates a uniform grain texture on the metal’s surface.
- Hot blackening: A high-temperature process of applying a layer of oxide onto surfaces that leaves a black color, increases hardness and offers exceptional resistance to abrasion and corrosion.
- Buffing: Buff polishing utilizes a cloth wheel to remove metal from the surface for an exceptionally smooth and lustrous finish. It is often applied for its excellent ability to enhance surface aesthetics.
- Grinding: Metal grinding is the process of applying friction, attrition and/or compression to achieve varying levels of smoothness for hard metal surfaces. It is often employed as the final step in machining to achieve a specific tolerance.
- Vibratory finishing: A vibratory finishing machine cleans, descales, deburrs and dulls sharp edges to polish and prep small parts in high-volume production with consistency.
- Powder coating: Applying powder to metal electrostatically and putting it through a heated process to harden the coating for exceptional impact resistance, durability and uniformity.
- Passivation: A treatment using citric and nitric chemicals on steel to remove surface contaminants for enhanced resistance to corrosion. Passivation also helps with achieving close tolerances and retaining the dimensional integrity of parts.
Choosing Between Metal Finishing Types
Reviewing the various types of metal finishes can give you a good idea of what style is best for your project or application. Once you narrow your choices, you should consider a few other factors before making the final decision. Whether you are in a time crunch or are trying to stick to a budget, certain types of finishing may be a better option for you than others based on certain aspects.
Consider the following factors when you’re searching for the right metal finishing style:
- Production time: Having a productive supply chain is essential for businesses. When you need metal parts for a project or piece of equipment, you likely require them sooner rather than later. Some metal finishing takes longer to produce than others. Check with the manufacturer to learn what the production time is for each type of metal finishing you’re considering. Maintaining your supply chain’s productivity and efficiency is a priority, and finding the right metal finishing process with a quick production time can be a great option for your business.
- Metal hardness: Depending on the type of metal you’re using and its hardness, you may need to focus on certain types of finishing. Harder metals typically require a stronger and more intense finishing style so the finishing will show up on the metal. Tough techniques are best for hard metals because they are more abrasive than others that work better on soft metals.
- Cost of the finishing: Prices range for the various metal finishing types. Before looking into these styles, evaluate the average cost for each type and select the finishing option within your budget. Like many other products, the more expensive options come with higher quality, a faster production process and more versatility. Asking the manufacturer plenty of questions about the quality of the metals and comparing prices between finishings you like can impact your purchasing decision.
These considerations and others will help you find the right metal finishing solution for your company. Other factors to account for are your preferred finishing look and the attributes of the metals you’re working with, such as heat resistance and the potential for vulcanization.
Contact Finishing Systems for Your Metal Finishing Project
Searching for the right metal finishing is simple when you understand the types of finishing processes available, how to narrow down your search and what other aspects can impact your choice. If you’re interested in learning more about metal finishing types or looking for assistance with your project, get in touch with Finishing Systems. We’re a leading source for metal finishing for companies large and small across the country.