Types of Surface Treatment Chemial Processes and the Method

The Chemical Surface Treatment Industry is expected to be worth around USD 14.74 Billion by 2022. Surface Treatments are various industrial processes used on finished products in order to alter their surface and achieve certain desired properties. Virtually all manufactured products go through some form of surface treatment to enhance their qualities or to imbibe them with new, desirable ones. Surface Treatments are the best way for a product to take on qualities of another product, thereby increasing the utility and indeed the profitability of each product. A common example is applying a zinc coating (usually via the Galvanising Process) to a finished iron or steel product to ensure that it does not react with the oxygen in our environment and thus never rusts.

Mostly the Surface Treatment of metals is carried out in order to prepare the metals for an eventual procedure. The procedure may be either printing, coating, adhesion or any other. Surface treatment ensures that the process that follows it; is better applied to the metal. This makes the completely processed product more durable as well as more pliable to the procedure being performed on it. Usually, Surface Treatment makes the metal more stable and less prone to reacting to its environment. Currently, more ecologically friendly methods and compounds are being researched to replace the current popular metals and treatments used in Surface Treatments worldwide.

Surface Treatment confers numerous advantages. To quote a general few:

1. Increases the shelf life of a product
2. Prevents corrosion
3. Makes product more resistant to friction & wear
4. Ensures ornamental value

It also confers certain specific advantages to products, some of which are:

1. Increasing or decreasing the electric conductivity of the product.
2. Increasing or decreasing temperature range within which the product can operate.
3. Increasing or decreasing the relative reaction to a certain compound or element.

The ways in which a product can get a Chemical Surface Treatment are as diverse as are its applications. This gives the manufacturer a wide array of choices, each of which comes with their own unique set of advantages and strengths so that the manufacturer can choose one that is as perfect a fit for their product as possible.

Some of the more extensively used processes are:

1. Electroplating: Uses an electrical current to reduce dissolved metal cations to form a thin metal coating on the electrode (the electrode being the product). Used extensively in the automobile, home appliance and heavy chemical industries.

2. Chemical Coating: Process utilizes numerous chemical processes to deposit a thin film of the specified compound or element onto the product. The processes utilized are Post Zinc plating, Chromate Treatment, Parkerizing, Black Oxide treatment, Chromic Oxide Treatment and others. These are usually used in metal colouring, corrosion protection and to improve the paint adhesion qualities of certain metals.

3. Hot Dipping: Simple process in which dips the product in dissolved lead, tin, zinc, aluminium and others to have a coating of the desired metal over the product. Used for compounds which have a relatively low melting point and which are chemically stable when liquid.

4. Electroless Plating: Uses the same process as electroplating, but replaces the use of electricity with a reduction agent contained within the plating solution itself. Useful for treating the surface of products which are delicate or which cannot be acted upon by electricity without altering their basic make-up. Useful for paper industry, plastic industry and fabric industries.

5. Vacuum Plating: Ionized and gasified metals are deposited on the desired product at extremely low atmospheric pressures (akin to vacuum). This is useful for those products that require an exact thickness film or an extremely thin film of the coating material on them. Since the metal is coated atom by atom, it is possible to have a coating that is exactly one atom in thickness as well. Used for semiconductors, solar panels, medical equipment and others.

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