The superior properties of zinc as a coating material have led to an increased in its use for various industrial processes. Zinc electroplating is now widely used in many industries such as automobile.
What is Zinc Electroplating?
Zinc electroplating is the industrial process of coating zinc over steel or other metal substrates. It is done to protect steel from corrosion. There are various ways to coat steel or metal substrates with zinc. But zinc electroplating is one of the most efficient ways to do it.
The process involves application of electric current to form the coating over the substrates. The metal is dipped into the solution of zinc salt prior to using the electric current. It is just a very simple explanation of the process, which in reality involves several steps and a whole lot of chemical reactions.
The Significance of Zinc Electroplating
There are definite reasons to the growing importance of zinc electroplating.
One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of zinc as a coating material is its ability to protect steel (and iron) from corrosion. Corrosion is the oxidation process – the formation of rust when metals come in contact with moisture.
Zinc coating becomes the protective barrier for the metal underneath it. It stops moisture from reaching the substrates and thus prevents the formation of rust on them. It acts as a sacrificial coating and takes the brunt of the oxidation process to protect the substrates.
Zinc coating is heavily used in the automobile industry to protect vehicle components from rust. The use of zinc as a coating material is also popular for ADAS or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. ADAS is used not only in luxury vehicles but also in many common car models. Zinc coating is used on the chassis hardware, braking system, and engine components. It is also used to coat smaller metal components used in manufacturing a vehicle.
Long-lasting protection –
Zinc coating can last for many years; in most cases for many decades to come. Superior quality of zinc coating on galvanized steel can last for hundreds of years; protecting the metal from the devastating effects of corrosion.
Imagine zinc plating protecting steel used in the automobiles, buildings, and ships. Imagine it protecting steel structures such as bridges for years after their construction and heavy use. It can increase the lifespan of a vehicle simply by protecting its parts from rust.
It not only protects big structures. But zinc electroplating is widely used for nuts, bolts, and fasteners; especially components manufactured for outside use.
Ductile strength –
Zinc has superior ductility. For this reason, it is possible to stretch it into thin strands and help shape the metal underneath the coating.
No fear of hydrogen embrittlement –
Metals are likely to become brittle due to hydrogen diffusion on their surfaces. Zinc coating prevents this reaction to quite an extent; thereby, protecting the substrates. The level of protection depends on the quality of the zinc electroplating and the appropriate measures taken to achieve the same during the plating process.
Zinc is available in great abundance in nature. For this reason, zinc electroplating turns out to be quite cost-effective option for businesses. Compared to some other types of metal coatings, zinc electroplating is a low-cost but extremely effective option for protecting steel from corrosion.
Zinc can tolerate temperatures of about 120 degrees F. So, it also reduces the cost of cooling the coated metal.
It is possible to recycle zinc, which makes it an environment-friendly metal for industrial use. Many metals traditionally used for coatings are quite toxic for the environment. Their use requires proper storage and disposing of waste materials, which increases the labor and operational costs of using those metals. These additional costs then impact their overall rates as coating materials.
Zinc is a versatile metal to use as a coating material. It is suitable for both rack and barrel processes of plating. It is also compatible with different bath chemistries; making it possible to control the outcome of the plating process.
It is possible to infuse color into zinc coating; making it a suitable to use on steel parts that require a bit of aesthetic appeal.
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