Surface Preparation and Metal Finishing 101

There are multiple applications that require metal components, and often these parts need to be cleaned or prepared before being coated or painted or shipped out. One of the primary methods used to ensure that metal objects are properly prepared for implementation is by putting the components through a metal finishing process.

What is Metal Finishing?

Metal finishing is a process that involves changing the surface texture of an object so that other materials, such as a powder coating or paint, can be applied to the metal. The concept of metal finishing can involve an array of different facets, such as preparing the item by eliminating sharp edges and honing corners, also known as “deburring“. Also, the finishing process often entails removing imperfections caused by welding, which helps to create a surface with a smooth texture.

The steps in finishing a piece of metal vary with the demands of the customer, and often, they require a vast amount of skill to ensure that the surface is free of burrs and dents. To achieve this level of quality, finishers must rely on tools such as grinders, sanders, and abrasive blasters.

Why Do Metal Surfaces Need to be Prepared/Finished?

There are a variety of reasons that metal finishing is done, and the foremost of these is to reduce flaws on the outside surface of an object. By reducing imperfections, finishing will allow for the proper adherence of coating materials, while improving the overall appearance. In addition to its ability to create a surface that can be coated, finishing also enables metal items to be painted more easily, which can be vital in preventing corrosion.

The finishing process is also used to change the texture of the surface, as not all objects need to have a smooth appearance, and this allows for a certain level of customization. In actuality, it is very standard practice to apply techniques that give the metal a more rugged look, such as by brushing the metal to create a matted surface which helps to reduce reflection from light sources. There are some factors that determine the style of finishing that is optimal, such as the hardness and texture of the metal being used and it’s intended purpose.

Furthermore, the finishing process is beneficial in that it helps to eliminate contaminates like oil and grease that may have come in contact with the object during shipping or unpacking. By removing these substances, the finishing increases the longevity of the components. To aid in corrosion prevention, many finishers offer chemical washes to inhibit the attraction of undesired particles.

Do Certain Products Need Surface Preparation?

The necessity for finished metal products depends on the designated use of the finalized item. For instance, if the metal object does not need to have a smoothed surface or imperfections are acceptable, then metal finishing may not be necessary. However, in most cases, metal needs to be finished to be implemented into its desired function as required by the customer. Furthermore, the demand of metal components to be free of chemicals and oils can also necessitate processes like metal finishing and parts cleaning.

Metal finishing can help in the prevention of corrosion of metal objects by creating a clean surface to which coatings can be applied. Also, it is used to generate varying surface textures, such as brushed or matte finishes. And while not all metal components require finishing, there is no doubt that metal finishing is one of the foremost processes for preparing surfaces.