Preventing Metal Corrosion

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When you hear the term corrosion, you likely think of old, rusted metal. You might think of the orangey-brown tones of an old wagon wheel or the reddish hues of a deteriorating ship hull needing paint. Or, you might see automobile graveyards where once-classic cars rust back to their original iron state.

Corrosion is a natural occurrence that happens with all metal products over time. What you might consider "rusting" is just one form of corrosion where iron and steel products oxidize in the presence of oxygen and water. Many other metals suffer corrosion threats including aluminum, brass, bronze and even the highest stainless steel grades. Fortunately, metal corrosion is preventable. Corrosion protection can save the American economy vast sums lost annually by nature’s energy cycle built into metal.

The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) is considered a worldwide authority on corrosion, with members worldwide who collaborate on solutions to control corrosion. According to their 2016 International IMPACT Study, corrosion damage has a global cost of $2.5 trillion annually — a significant amount that could be saved with proper corrosion protection practices.

Despite corrosion being such a massive cost to the global economy, the fight to control and prevent corrosion gets little attention. Corrosion affects almost every part of daily infrastructure from transportation to utility providers. It can also result in catastrophic events like airplane crashes and bridge failures that cost money and human lives. Preventing metal corrosion and its far-reaching effects start with understanding what causes corrosion.

What Causes Corrosion?

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To understand the causes of corrosion, it’s necessary to know what corrosion is. The National Academies Material Advisory Board (NMAB) defines corrosion through two National Research Council reports. Corrosion is the deterioration or degrading of a material’s physical properties through chemical reactions within its environment. Although non-metallic substances like glass, plastic and ceramics can technically corrode, by far the most common corrosion processes occur with manufactured metals.

The term corrosion comes from the Latin word corrodere, meaning “to gnaw to pieces,” which has the similar root word “rodent.” Corrosion is the slow destruction or eating away of things, which has a literal application such as with rusting or abstract implications like corroding emotions or relationships. In the material world, the highest risk for corrosion is metal.

Oxidation is the most prevalent metal corrosion form. Oxidation corrosion happens when metal objects react with oxygen and a fluid environment like air or water to form a more stable thermodynamic state. Synthetic metals are the highest risk for corrosive oxidation because they were changed from their original ore state by adding energy to create new compounds and alloys.

These manufactured products exist in a higher energy state than their ores once were. As part of a natural cycle, these materials release energy through corrosion in a long-term path of returning to their original state. When metal atoms such as iron experience oxidation, they release negatively charged ions that build up in the material and exacerbate the corrosive process. At the most basic form, corrosion is an electrochemical process. However, there are different causes.

Primary Causes of Metal Corrosion

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In general, five main causes of metal corrosion can occur, along with some other less common reasons. Each contributing factor can act alone or in unison with another. All occur wherever metal has an active environment that’s suitable for creating corrosion.

1. Atmospheric Corrosion

By far, the most common form is atmospheric corrosion. It’s also called uniform or general corrosion. This is where oxidation takes place across a metal object’s entire surface that’s exposed to atmospheric conditions. These conditions include air or oxygen, moisture such as rain, snow, ice or dew, sunlight, airborne pollutants and temperature fluctuations. Although atmospheric corrosion typically happens in an open environment, the same processes occur underground and underwater.

2. Galvanic Corrosion

This corrosion cause occurs when two dissimilar metals electrically engage when they’re mated in a manufactured assembly. Galvanic corrosion, or bimetallic corrosion, happens when one material creates an electric charge that’s passed to the other causing an electrochemical event. The terms “noble” and “active” are associated with galvanic corrosion. Noble metals (cathode) are more inert than active (anode) metals. The further separated cathode and anode electrochemical reactions are, the faster they break down the affected metal.

3. Crevice Corrosion

This is a common corrosive cause in products manufactured with metal. Every assembled product has crevices like joints or seams susceptible to invasive conditions that bring on corrosion. Those crevices can also be cracks, splits or gaps occurring through wear and tear during a metal object’s life cycle. Crevices in shielded areas are at the highest risk for corrosion. These micro-environments create perfect conditions for trapped moisture, stagnant solutions and depleted oxygen. Often, crevices get contaminated with chloride or salt, which significantly speeds up corrosive electrochemical reactions.

4. Pitting Corrosion

Pitting usually occurs on a metal object’s exterior where it is uniformly exposed to atmospheric conditions, but the surface has been protected by a film like plating, painting or powder coating. Over time, tiny holes perforate or pit the protective coating and allow subsurface penetration of water, chemicals and oxygen. This also creates a mini-environment under the film which is virtually invisible to the naked eye. These pits grow under the film surface until they blister and present themselves. By then, the corrosion has caused significant structural damage.

5. Microbial Corrosion

This form of corrosion happens when unprotected metal stays in contact with sludge or soil. Both air-bearing (aerobic) and air-void (anaerobic) conditions lead to corrosive action. Excessive water presence accelerates microbial growth, which literally “eats away” at the metal. Sulfate-reducing bacteria are the most aggressive microbes. They can destroy an unprotected metal product in a short time unless electrochemical control measures are in place.

6. Other Corrosion Causes

Lesser known and rarer corrosion causes exist, too. One is high-temperature corrosion that happens where metal objects experience great heat continually. Jet engine exhaust ports are a prime example. Meta dusting is another corrosion cause. This occurs in high carbon and sulfuric gas situations where metal quickly corrodes from bulk to a fine powder. Weld decay and knifeline attacks also cause corrosion on metal fabricated equipment. Here, openings in seams allow ingress of corrosion-causing substances.

Corrosion is a natural process. Metal deterioration is inevitable and part of nature’s energy cycle. That’s unless metal manufacturers and maintainers take preventive steps to preserve their products.

How to Prevent Metal Corrosion

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The key to preventing metal corrosion is to stop or slow the electrochemical forces that cause corrosion. Some metals are much more at-risk for corrosion than others. One of the main corrosion prevention factors is to choose a metal base that’s a low corrosion risk given its intended application and the environment it’s used in.

It’s also crucial to assess which corrosion causes a product may endure in order to prevent electrochemical breakdown. Above-ground applications have the highest atmospheric conditions that threaten a product. Generally, the best corrosion prevention is a top coating like paint or a baked-on powder. Below-ground applications also benefit from usable, but they usually need an anti-galvanizing treatment to stop electrical activity.

Metal corrosion may be inevitable given the right time and conditions. However, corrosion and engineering research has discovered short- and medium-term solutions to slow the kinetic process that causes corrosion and put the economic burden onto society. Here are the main types of corrosion prevention methods scientists and engineers work with:

  • Product Design: Scientists and engineers constantly thrive to improve existing technologies and design new corrosion-resistant metals. This includes developing advanced computer models that simulate actual conditions without the time and expense necessary to test products in real environments. Design work takes in accelerated testing in controlled conditions. Here, newly designed metal alloys provide the least corrosive metals. Plus, testing advanced coatings and finishes provides accurate performance predictions without the need for field tests.

  • Risk Mitigation: The same product design tools and databases allow metallurgists to mitigate the risk of product failure in real-time situations. Over the years, corrosion risk mitigation came from long-term study and experience of what metal alloys and protective coatings performed with the least corrosive action. Today, risk mitigation starts with applying the right corrosion resistant metals to their performance environment and then matching the correct protection in the way of coatings and electrochemical grounding.

  • Corrosion Detection: Metal scientists and structural engineers monitor existing products, buildings and infrastructure components to detect corrosion at different stages. Highly-technical sensors and remote monitors provide information on corrosive reactions that simply can’t be found by human sight and touch. Detecting metal corrosion plays a large part in prevention programs. Assessing current corrosion damage detected in existing materials provides a prognosis for predicting degradation and preventing serious failures.

  • Corrosion Prediction: Research and development, along with detection and mitigation techniques, allow scientific models to predict which metal products will withstand environmental forces. Scientific data also lets designers predict which materials are doomed for failure. Predictions based on metal properties extend into providing an accurate prescription of corrosion-resistant finishes and the successful way they can be applied to protect products. From information-based predictions, better materials and better protective coatings continue to evolve and make the world a safer place.

What Are the Most and Least Corrosive Metals?

True metals are rarely found in the earth’s mineral supply. Most true metals like gold, silver and platinum are non-corrosive by nature. They inherently resist corrosion and are in high demand, which is why they can be so expensive.

Other metals like copper, aluminum and brass also have excellent corrosion resistance properties. These materials are more abundant than precious metals and less costly by volume. The downside to brass, copper and aluminum is that they require considerable amounts of energy to process into usable products. That energy stores in their molecular makeup and makes them vulnerable to nature’s energy recycling program of electrochemical corrosion.

Copper is an interesting metal. It’s in relatively plentiful supply and is easy to work with. However, copper doesn’t need paint or powder coatings to preserve it from corrosion. When exposed to air and water, copper builds its own protection called passivation. Think of America’s famous landmark, the Statue of Liberty. Its copper sheathing has a rich greenish patina that naturally resists corrosion without other help.

Aluminum also forms a passivation protection layer. Without its greyish and mottled patina, shiny raw aluminum is somewhat corrosive. Boat builders often use aluminum for hulls and superstructures, which is partially because aluminum is lightweight and partially because it works well with products called sacrificial anodes. These small zinc or magnesium blocks or anodes absorb corrosive electrochemical reactions from aluminum and self-sacrifice by corroding first.

Because of corrosion threats, even resistant metals like aluminum often receive a surface protection coat. Many aluminum products destined for atmospheric exposure receive treatments during their manufacturing stage. Aluminum building products like siding and gutters have powder coats applied that last through years of harsh weather exposure.

Other metal alloys stand up well against corrosive conditions. Stainless steel is a blend of iron and chromium. As corrosion-resistant as stainless steel is, products manufactured from stainless steel often require protective coatings or regular anti-corrosion maintenance. Here is a list of common metals ranging from the most to least corrosive metals:

  • Magnesium and Alloys: Either cast or wrought

  • Zinc and Alloys: Wrought, die-cast or plated

  • Iron: Wrought, cast or carbon alloys

  • Steel: Refined iron and alloys like stainless steel

  • Aluminum: Smelted or cadmium plated

  • Lead: Solid or plated

  • Tin: Raw and lead-soldered

  • Chromium: Used to alloy stainless steel

  • Brass: Including bronze and alloys

  • Copper: Solid or plated

  • Nickel: Including titanium alloys

  • Silver: Solid or plated

  • Gold: Solid or plated

  • Platinum: Including gold-platinum alloys

Best Metals to Use

For most applications, you can use four reliable and economical metals. Each has distinct properties, and your metal choice depends on your specific application. That might be custom sheet metal fabricating, custom enclosure fabrication, steel fabrication or aluminum fabrication. No matter what your purpose, matching the best metal to use always includes providing it with the proper finish, such as powder coating.

Powder coating is an exceptionally dependable corrosion resistance process. This involves energizing a clean metal product and spraying a dry powder over it. The electrostatic reaction allows the powder to stick or adhere to the product. Following this, the metal product enters an over where it’s baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Powder coated metal is one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting metal treatments available today.

APX York Sheet Metal provides first-rate metal fabrication and powder coating. Our services include product design, metal bending, metal rolling, laser cutting, machining, metal shearing and welding. Resisting corrosion is at the top of priorities at APX York Sheet Metal, which is why we always use these four best metals for building corrosion-resistant products:

  • Galvanized steel

  • Carbon steel

  • Stainless steel

  • Aluminum

Contact APX York Sheet Metal

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We’re proud to be a leading custom metal fabricator in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. For more than 70 years, APX York Sheet Metal has built a reputation for excellence and dependability in both fabricating sheet metal and serving customers. As a valued customer, you’re faced with short lead times and rising costs. At APX York Sheet Metal, we understand that and strive to deliver low-cost value along with quick turnaround times.

Contact APX York Sheet Metal today for all your corrosion-resistant metal work. We’re just a call away at 717-767-2704, or you can always reach us online.

Materials Used in Fabrication

In the process of deciding the best metal to use for your part fabrication, including sheet metal fabrication, you have to consider a wide variety of critical factors. The conductivity, strength, hardness and corrosion resistance needed in each sheet play an important role in this decision. To determine your requirements for each of these qualities, you'll need to consider the sheets' and parts' final application.

If you're working in material handling, technology, construction equipment or a similar industry, you likely face federal standards and regulations that dictate the qualities you need in your metal components and equipment. No matter your requirements, you'll find the materials and quality you need when you trust APX York Sheet Metal. The following materials are some of the most common ones used in custom sheet metal fabrication.

Steel

The most common type of metal used for part fabrication is steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon and may have some other elements like limestone or coal as well. Steel is popular because it's cheap and easy to weld, although it's less ductile and harder to cut than some other metals. It's also vulnerable to corrosion. For this reason, there several steel alloys that you may also use for metal fabrication.

Carbon Steel

Although all steel contains carbon, carbon steel is so named because of its higher content. Lower-carbon content steel may be found in railings or fences, while you will find medium carbon content steel in items like cars and appliances. The highest carbon content is frequently found in steel wires. The more carbon in your steel, the stronger it is — but it's harder to get it into the proper shape.

Stainless Steel

Although a bit more expensive than regular steel, stainless steel is popular because its chromium content prevents it from rusting. It also creates a shiny, polished silvery coating that many find aesthetically pleasing. You will find stainless steel in cookware, medical instruments, and many other steel products you want to expose to air or water without rusting. Stainless steel is fairly easy to work with but cannot be joined with other metals without compromising its anti-corrosive properties. It's also heavier than standard steel.

Steel is not the only metal used in metalworking. There are several popular alternatives, including aluminum, copper and brass.

Aluminum

Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is a bit more expensive than standard steel. It's a popular alternative to steel because it responds quite well to machining and, like stainless steel, it does not rust. In addition, it has strong thermal and electrically conductive properties. It's not as strong as steel, however, and should not be subjected to degrees in excess of 400 F. You will find aluminum parts in air conditioning, refrigeration and aerospace applications, where very cold temperatures are not uncommon.

Copper

Copper can be fairly expensive, even though it's not as strong as aluminum or steel and can be difficult to work with during machining or welding. It does respond well to bending and can create beautiful results. It typically does not rust, but it can age into a unique and attractive patina finish. It's also a strong conductor of electricity. Copper is often used for pots and pans, fixtures and electronic equipment.

Brass

Brass is a combination of copper and zinc. It has strong acoustic properties, which means it's the main metal in many instruments. It's also found in items like doorknobs, nuts, bolts and pipes.

At APX York Sheet Metal, we have decades of experience making beautiful, high-quality parts out of steel and other metals. For advanced sheet metal fabrication in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, contact us today.

Should I Work With a Full-Service Metal Fabrication Shop?

The process of fabricating a metal part can go through a number of stages. From designing to choosing the right metal to fabricating to finishing and finally shipping the final product, it's a complex procedure. Some companies may find themselves dealing with several different vendors in order to produce a single product. Whether this is by circumstance or by design, there are many important reasons to consider doing business with a single full-service metal fabrication company.

Benefits of Using a Full-Service Custom Metal Fabricator

There are many benefits to using full-service custom metal fabrication, including:

  • Time: If you need your parts fast, a full-service metal fabrication shop is almost always the way to go. A full-service metal fabricator doesn’t have to wait for design information or materials to come in, and they don’t have to send the part somewhere else for finishing. Therefore, they can get it to you much faster. This can make a big difference if you frequently deal with rush orders or deadlines or if you want to make delivery guarantees.

  • Communication: When you handle all the elements of fabricating a metal part in one place, miscommunication is much less likely and more easily corrected. Everyone in the facility knows what everyone else is doing, and if there is any confusion, it is easy for one department to visit another to clear things up. If someone in Pennsylvania has a question about materials they received from China, it can be much harder and take longer (if ever) to straighten everything out.

  • Price: While not all full-service fabricators will necessarily be cheaper than a combination of multiple vendors, typically they are. Also, keep in mind that a full-service fabricator does not have to deal with any fees associated with shipping components from one facility to another. They can then pass those savings on to you.

  • Customer service: If you work with a single full-service fabricator, they are much more likely to be familiar with you, your company and your project. When you are dealing with multiple vendors, you may have no idea where your part is or what its status is at any given time. You’ll always know who to call to learn the status of your project when you partner with a full-service fabricator.

Choose APX York Sheet Metal as Your Full-Service Custom Metal Fabrication Shop in Central PA and Northern MD

APX York Sheet Metal is an experienced, reliable full-service custom metal fabricator operating in York, Pennsylvania. Our service area includes central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. We excel at providing complete turnkey solutions for your metal part fabrication needs, from design to assembly to finishing to shipping.

We use cutting-edge technologies and the highest-quality materials to make sure you get better parts for lower costs with shorter lead times. We are a family-owned company with over 70 years in the metal fabrication business. For a quote on metal fabrication services, contact us today.

MANTEC Award Finalists 2018

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As a family-owned business that has provided sheet metal fabrication services for thousands of people over the past seven decades, APX York Sheet Metal has prioritized its clients above all else.

Our employees, many of whom have been committed to our mission for more than 25 years, aim to produce precise results on quick turnaround times, all while offering comprehensive customer service that addresses your every need. As a result of our dedication and business philosophy, we earned a nomination as a 2018 MANTEC award finalist.

What Are the MANTEC Awards?

MANTEC is a nonprofit consulting company that was formed in 1988 under direction from former Gov. Bob Casey Sr. and serves as one of seven Industrial Resource Centers (IRCs) in the state. It started the Excellence in Manufacturing awards to recognize manufacturing businesses throughout central Pennsylvania for numerous accomplishments. The awards, which began in 2010, generally serve to distinguish local manufacturers that exhibit exemplary commitments to competitive manufacturing.

The awards also aim to praise companies for their efforts to position themselves as dynamic, first-class service providers in the present and the future.

MANTEC announces their finalists in four categories during the late summer/early fall.

What Are the Categories?

To highlight different areas of improvement for various businesses, MANTEC separates its awards into four categories. These divisions range from service quality to employee proficiency, and they consist of the following:

  • Excellence in Operational Excellence and Quality: To offer top-quality services in a global economy, businesses need to run as tightly and efficiently as possible without sacrificing the excellence of their craft. This award recognizes companies that meet all productivity-related initiatives, including LEAN, Six Sigma and quality certifications, such as ISO.

  • Excellence in Growth and Innovation: The complexity of the marketplace continues to accelerate, and it has left many lesser companies in the dust after they failed to adapt. The Excellence in Growth and Innovation rewards companies that have successfully implemented strategies and procedures that help stimulate and sustain growth.

  • Excellence in Technology: Part of adopting new strategies involves the usage of new machinery and other innovations that the relevant market deems necessary. Some of the related initiatives include design services and prototyping, manufacturing planning and production, supply chain logistics and IT infrastructure.

  • Excellence in Workforce Development: All companies rely on their staff to fulfill their visions, and the Excellence in Workforce Development acknowledges companies that continually implement meticulous training programs and responsible safety protocols, promote employee engagement and improve overall company culture.

APX York Sheet Metal Is a Finalist for Growth and Innovation!

APX York Sheet Metal garnered a distinction as one of the best companies in this section of the state to promote growth and innovation.

Out of the five total businesses, we are the second oldest to earn a nomination, as we've translated our wealth of experience into actions that met MANTEC's benchmarks for various subjects. These subjects include exploratory strategy implementation for new customers and markets, new product development, and business positioning that promotes sales growth and market share.

Why Was APX York Sheet Metal Chosen?

We've stayed ahead of the curve in our field since the 1940s, which is why we've consistently remained as one of the top area providers in our industry.

We're a one-stop shop that performs all necessary services in-house — including shipping — to lower our reliance on third parties while generating significant reductions in turnaround time. Our ability to handle an increasing amount of jobs for different fields also played a notable role, since we work with a variety of challenges/requirements. We take on a lot of requests that competitors refuse.

If you'd like to inquire about our award-nominated sheet metal fabrication services or request a free quote, contact us today.

Powder Coating or Liquid Painting? Choosing the Right Finish for Your Custom Metal Parts

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When you purchase custom metal parts, the biggest concern on your mind is likely function. You need your metal part to be the right shape, fit onto your machine correctly and perform its intended purpose. If it doesn’t satisfy these basic requirements, then there’s no point in having it.

Once your metal parts satisfy these requirements, however, it’s time to start thinking a little more outside the box. What finishing touches can you add to your metal parts to make them match the rest of your machine? How can you make them hold up better against strain and wear and tear? How can you make them look a little more finished and upscale?

As it turns out, there are two different ways you can do this — powder coating or liquid painting. Both options are good ones, and both have advantages and disadvantages that you’ll want to take into account. To help you decide which one is right for you and your facility, we’ve compiled this guide to explain what makes each type of finish distinct. With a brief overview of this information, you’ll be ready and equipped to choose which finish will be the right one for you.

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What Is Powder Coating?

Powder coating has the same job as a coat of paint. It covers a surface in a finishing layer and a protective coating. It gives the surface both a more finished and polished look that adds to the aesthetic while also protecting the bare surface from dust, dirt and corrosion. This type of coating can be used on metal brackets, sheet metal boxes, large panels and much more.

Despite having the same basic function as paint, however, powder coating is a little different in practice. Instead of going on in a liquid coat, powder coating is applied to a surface as a dry powder.

This powder is applied electrostatically and then subjected to high levels of heat. This heat causes the powder to dry and come together to form a protective covering or skin that neatly coats the surface in much the same way paint does. Unlike paint, however, a powder coating typically dries and hardens into a finished coating much tougher and more durable than ordinary paint.

What Metals Can Be Powder Coated?

The general rule of thumb is that anything that can hold an electrostatic charge and that can withstand the high levels of heat required for the curing process can be covered in a powder coating. Because this applies to most metals, this means that the majority of metal parts and objects can be powder coated. This applies to:

  • Aluminum

  • Stainless Steel

  • Galvanized Steel

  • Electroplated Steel

  • Mild Steel

  • Brass

  • Iron

  • Copper

This is not a complete list, but it begins to give you an idea of the vast number of materials this coating can be used on.

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What Are the Benefits of Choosing a Powder Coating Finish?

We’ve talked a bit about what a powder coating finish is, but now let’s talk about why you might want one. What makes it superior to an ordinary liquid paint coating? Let’s go over a few of the benefits of powder coatings.

1. It’s Durable

Powder coating metal parts results in a far more durable final product than painting them does. This is because a powder coating allows you to achieve a considerably thicker coating that gives the metal underneath more protection. On top of that, powder coating enables you to perform this thicker finish without any of the dripping or sagging you might get with paint if you try for a thicker coat.

In addition to a thicker coat, the powder coating itself is simply tougher and holds up better against outside forces. Whether you worried about scratching, chipping, weathering or fading, powder coatings are far better at withstanding these forces than a standard paint.

2. It’s Long-Lasting

A powder coating does more than hold up to outside forces like weather, chemical damage and human interactions. When you choose a powder coating, you also select an option that will stand the test of time regardless of the conditions it’s subjected to. Whether your powder-coated surfaces will be outdoors in all weather or locked in a climate-controlled glass case, you can rest assured the powder coating will hold up beautifully.

3. It’s Fast and Easy

Painting is sometimes a bit of a laborious process. A surface sometimes needs multiple coats of paint before it truly looks like it’s finished. This process isn’t just difficult, as you work to apply the multiple coats evenly and cover the surface properly. It’s also time-consuming, as you’ll need to wait for each coat of paint of paint to dry before you add the next one.

Powder coating isn’t like this. When you choose the powder coating process, your job will be much easier and will go much faster. This process only takes one coat, and while it does require time to cure, it will still be faster than applying multiple coats of paint.

4. It’s Customizable

Powder coating offers you a whole world of choices when it comes to both finishes and color options. Choose from hundreds of different color options, all of which are long-lasting and resistant to the chipping or fading you might find in an ordinary paint. Differently textured finishes are available, too, and you can choose from smooth, wrinkled, matte, shiny or rough to achieve the look or function you’re going for.

5. It’s Good for the Environment

Powder coatings benefit the environment in scores of different ways, making them good for you, good for your business and good for the earth itself. First, powder coatings don’t emit harmful toxins or organic compounds that might pollute the air, as opposed to certain types of paints that may give off harmful odors and chemicals.

Additionally, the leftover powder can be recycled. This means that even if you overspray, or if you simply have some powder left over at the end of the job, you don’t have to worry about wasting it or about contributing to pollution. The recyclable nature of these coatings means you can use nearly 100 percent of them without adding toxic waste to the planet.

Finally, the production of powder coatings is a much safer and less wasteful process than the process that creates standard liquid paints. These powder coating production lines are more efficient and produce less hazardous waste that will need to be disposed of.

6. It’s Uniform

Because powder coating is applied in one large coat all at once and then dried together, it dries in an extremely uniform way. There are no remaining traces of brushstrokes or visible paint layers, as you might find in liquid paint. This results in a final polished surface that’s one uniform color and texture with no blemishes that are obvious traces of the production process.

What Are the Disadvantages of Choosing a Powder Coating Finish?

No matter how many positive sides there are to something, there will always be a few downsides. Powder coatings are no exception to this. With this in mind, here are a few of the potential snags you may run into if you decide to opt for the powder coating finish.

1. It Has a Hard Time Producing a Thin Finish

In most cases, a thick finishing coat is ideal. This is more durable, more long-lasting and leaves fewer traces of application. However, some objects require a thinner finish to fit onto machines or perform their intended functions. This is one area where powder coatings have a difficult time delivering. By trying to thin the coating, you’ll often be left with a surface that’s hard, bumpy and far from the desired final texture.

2. It’s More Complicated

The process of applying and drying a powder coating is not a simple one. It requires an electrostatic application, which involves a variety of complex equipment, spraying materials and an oven to dry the coating out. Of course, this complexity helps make the powder coating into such a beautiful and reliable finish.

However, because the process is complicated and a little pricier than liquid painting, it’s impractical for small-scale operations. If you only have one small piece that you want to coat, you may be better off with a simple liquid paint, as it’s not worth the investment in all the equipment you would need for the powder coating. For smaller jobs, it’s much more practical and cost efficient to stick to the simpler method. Even if you end up needing to re-do your paint coating every so often, it will still likely win out as the more cost-effective method for small projects.

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What Are the Benefits of Choosing Liquid Painting?

Traditional liquid painting is something we’re all familiar with. Ordinary paint is brushed on over the metal surface, often in multiple coats until the entire object is well covered. Like powder coating, it can be used on most types of metal and is commonly used on surfaces like brackets, shelves, panels and more. Of course, a method like this wouldn’t become as popular as it is if it didn’t have a few major benefits. Here are a few of them.

1. It’s Simple and Easy

With an ordinary painting job, there’s no complicated equipment or in-depth procedure. Painting metal parts is simple and involves painting on one coat of paint at a time. The paint will need to dry, but this happens naturally and doesn’t require any additional equipment to do so.

2. It’s Cost-Effective

Paint and paint brushes are cheap tools. Because these are the only things you will need to complete this task, costs will stay at relatively low. This makes simple paint coverage a choice great for your budget.

What Are the Disadvantages of Choosing Liquid Painting?

On the flip side of things, liquid painting comes with quite a few disadvantages that are difficult to avoid and make many consider powder coating to be the superior option. A few of these disadvantages include:

1. It’s Less Durable

The paint is thinner and less likely to hold up against things like weather, corrosion, scratching or peeling than the powder option. This means if your metal parts are going to undergo lots of strain, it might be best to stick with a powder coating.

2. It Can Look Messy

Because paint is usually thinner and requires additional coats to adequately cover the surface in question, the final result appears messier. Oftentimes, brushstrokes may be visible in the surface as well as different layers in the paint or even certain areas that are covered more completely than others.

3. It’s Less Environmentally Friendly

Liquid paint production is known for creating unhealthy amounts of hazardous waste on the production line. Not only this, but also the final product can sometimes give off harmful toxins and vapors, leading to a greater footprint on the earth and a less environmentally conscious method of coating your metal parts.

Can You Paint Over Powder Coating?

What happens if you’ve applied a powder coating only to decide a year or two later that you’re looking for a different color or finish? You don’t feel you need to put the metal through the entire powder-coating process again so soon. Is painting over a powder coating something that’s even possible?

The short answer is yes, it is possible. The longer answer is that you’ll want to take the precaution of following these steps before you do:

  • Clean: Make sure your coated surface is clean, so you aren’t just painting over old dirt.

  • Sand: Rough up the coated surface to help your new coat of paint adhere better.

  • Prime: To get the best coverage, you’ll need to provide the proper base coat for your paint.

  • Paint: Choosing the right paint for the job is critical. Stick to an enamel- or epoxy-based paint for the best results.

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Choosing the Right Finish for Your Metal Parts

To decide whether powder coating or liquid painting is better for you, you need to think about what your goal is as well as what your limitations are. For example, is durability the highest concern for you? Maybe you’re most worried about achieving a smooth, blemish-free finish. Or perhaps you’re concerned about your environmental impact. If any of these concerns are your highest priority, you may want to consider the benefits that powder coating can offer you. If, however, you’re only looking to finish one small item, your best bet may be to stick with painting.

Neither option is always right or wrong. As you weigh the choices, take the time to really consider your situation and think about what will be best for you. This way, you can feel confident in your decision and know that you have made the right choice for you and your custom metal parts.

Contact APX York Sheet Metal for Powder Coating Services

Have you decided to move forward with powder coating your metal parts? Then we want to help. We’re a family-owned business with over 70 years in the business, meaning that we’ve got the know-how and experience you’re looking for. Here at APX York Sheet Metal, we take pride in our quick turnaround time as well as our quality customer service, and when you work with us, you’ll experience both. To get started, contact us for your quote today.