Today, there are more choices than ever in all types of metal finishing and plating options. Different types of finishing processes provide a very different aesthetic look as well as add to the various features of the finish to protect and preserve the underlying metal or alloy.
In the electrolytic plating process, one of the most commonly used finishes is zinc-iron plating. It is used for many different types of parts in many different applications. This is a finishing process that is ideal for use on steel, and it will boost the ability of the steel to resist corrosion.
The Effectiveness of Corrosion Resistance
As mentioned above, one of the biggest reasons to choose the zinc-iron plating option is because of the enhanced corrosion resistance for the surface of the steel. In fact, the electroplating actually bonds the zinc to the steel component or part in a very precise and controlled layer. This bonding creates a thin layer of the zinc and iron rich alloy that is attached to the surface of the steel.
Over time and if the component is in corrosive environments, the protective zinc-iron layer actually begins to corrode first. This occurs because it bonded to the surface of the metal, so for the metal to corrode the zinc-iron layer first has to be compromised. As zinc is much slower to corrode than steel, this extends the life of the part or component.
In this way, the zinc-iron plating is considered to provide sacrificial corrosion resistance. When damage to the surface is noted it can be cleaned, prepared and then re-plated, restoring the desired metal finish without any damage to the underlying base metal.
For parts and components for OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) or for industrial use, using this electroplating option provides a great primer or the metal prior to painting.
The metal paint will bond with the zinc-iron finish and also provide additional protection. Also, should water or other chemicals remove the paint over time, the second protective layer of zinc-iron is still in place to provide the surface protection required.
While any type of plating adds a step to the processing of the part or component, it also extends the life. This is an important consideration when components are going to be used in corrosive environments or when the part may be painted after plating to create a specific look.