The manufacturing industry is full of challenges. Because of these challenges, the successful manufacturers are those who continuously look for new ways to keep their processes moving forward—with minimal downtime and risk.
If the client needs fabrication with the end product located in a moist and humid environment, the problem of corrosion becomes perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. In those cases, e-coating becomes a brilliant solution for any production process that requires painted surfaces that are corrosion resistant, non-stick, and easy to clean.
If you're unfamiliar with the e-coating process, here's a concise overview to help shed some light on the method.
What is E-Coating?
E-coating, also known as electroplating, is the process that creates a corrosion-resistant coating on metal parts. The e-coating process uses an electrical current to deposit a coating onto the surface of a metal part, and this process is similar to electroplating but uses different chemicals.
Electroplating applies a metallic coating to a substrate by passing an electric current through an electrolyte containing the dissolved metal.
The difference between electroplating and e-coating is that the coating in an e-coating process is not as thick and robust. An e-coating process deposits a thinner, but more corrosion-resistant coating onto a metal part.
How is E-Coating Applied?
E-coating is applied to a metal surface via a water-based electrochemical process. In this process, they immerse the surface to be coated in an electrolyte solution, an acidic bath containing salt, water, and other minerals. The outside surfaces of the part are entirely immersed in the electrolyte solution, allowing the coating to be applied as a thin film that does not penetrate the metal.
E-coating is surprisingly cost-efficient: adding a layer of e-coat adds pennies on the dollar to the production costs.
Why is E-Coating so Important for Manufacturing?
E-coating is an excellent solution for any parts at risk of rust or corrosion. It's imperative to understand that the e-coating process doesn't remove rust from an existing part; it prevents rust from forming in the first place by creating a barrier preventing water or oxygen from coming in contact with the metal substrate.
That being said, any part e-coated will be protected against rust and corrosion for its entire lifespan. E-coated parts are more durable and last longer than their untreated counterparts, which is especially important in environments with moisture and harsh conditions.
The Durability of E-Coated Parts
If you decide to e-coat your parts, you'll notice that they're far less susceptible to damage. The e-coating process creates a protective, corrosion-resistant barrier preventing water and other harmful substances from coming into contact with the metal underneath.
That protective barrier creates greater durability and flexibility for those metal parts, allowing them to be used in more places and under more conditions.
Tests Prove E-Coat/Topcoat Effectiveness
Durability is key when exploring the benefits of the e-coating process. When combining an e-coat with a topcoat, such as a powder coat, you discover a powerful barrier between the metal substrate and the environment.
I wrote an article illustrating the testing process for protective metal coatings. One such test, the J400 testing method using a gravelometer, simulates the impacts of gravel and other debris on coated components. Technicians blast 300 pieces of gravel on a 4-inch × 12-inch test panel at 70 psi. Wiping the surface with a cloth and applying a layer of tape removes any loose coating fragments. By applying a set of standards to the results, technicians score the effectiveness of a respective protective coating.
Another testing method—one used by Schuette Metals—is salt spray. A sample piece of metal with an e-coat/topcoat protective finish is exposed to extended salt sprays in a sealed container. We use three equivalent time periods during our testing: 500-, 1,000-, and 1,500-hours.
Unprotected metal is then exposed to salt spray for the same time periods, and a comparison was made between metals when both tests were complete. There was a vivid difference between the two examples.
Visit our E-coat/Topcoat page to see the results of recent testing.
When Should You Use E-Coating?
E-coating is ideal for metal parts requiring a rugged, corrosion-resistant finish. Parts regularly exposed to water, or used in a marine environment, are great candidates for e-coating.
What Are the Benefits of E-Coating?
There are many e-coating benefits, including:
- Strong protective barrier
- Longer Lifespan
- Improved Appearance
- Easier Maintenance
Remember, e-coating is ideal for parts that require a tough, corrosion-resistant finish. Parts regularly exposed to water or used in a marine environment are great candidates for e-coating.
If you want to protect your parts from corrosion and improve their appearance, e-coating is the best option.