What is Galvanized Metal?
In the commercial metal industry, galvanized options are becoming more and more popular for specific applications. A process that lengthens the lifespan of metal, galvanization is essential for making some of the highest quality metal products. Here’s what you need to know about Galvanized metal.
What is Galvanizing?
Named after Luigi Galvani, galvanization is a process of coating a metal with zinc. Originally, though, the term meant “to shock with electricity.” Galvani experimented extensively with bioelectricity, studying how electricity is created within the body and how it reacts to that electricity. So what does electricity have to do with metal coating? Honestly, not much. Galvani popularized the study of electricity, spurring on a mainstream interest in the science. The term “galvanize” was then created to mean applying a stimulus to encourage action (like with electricity).
In modern-day use, galvanization is a technique to protect metal from corrosion, generally using zinc as a primary component.
There are different galvanization techniques in use today, but the most commonly used is called “hot-dip galvanization.” The process deposits a dense layer of zinc over the base metal (usually aluminum or steel), protecting the metal underneath. This method does not generally reduce the strength of the base metal, though extra care should be taken with high-strength steels, as they can suffer from hydrogen embrittlement.
Another popular method for adding a protective coating to a base metal is electrogalvanizing. In this process, the zinc coating is bonded to steel through electroplating. Essentially, electricity is sent through a saline and zinc solution and the resultant physical reaction creates a strongly bonded zinc coating. This application is mostly used in the automobile industry, where a thinner galvanization is preferred.
Sherardizing is a unique galvanizing technique that was developed around the turn of the 20th century. The base metals are placed into a close drum and surrounded by zinc and sand. The drum begins to rotate and is heated to 500C. At this temperature, the zinc sublimates into a vapor that then permeates the base metal to protect it from within. Because no liquid is needed for this technique, it is often called “dry galvanizing.” Small household fixings like screws and nails will most likely be galvanized this way.
Benefits of Galvanized Metal
What does all this information mean for consumers or businesses? There are several benefits to using galvanized metal in a variety of projects.
- Long lifespan. Galvanized steel can withstand exposure to the elements in various climates for up to fifty years before needing a replacement.
- The best protection. Galvanization gives the absolute highest protection to the base metal. All of the above processes ensure that every millimeter of the item is coated.
- It’s economical. Galvanized metal may cost more upfront, but its long life makes it less expensive in the long run.
- It’s quick. Think taking the time to have your metal materials will take too long for your project timeline? A full coat can be done in only a couple of minutes, depending on the method you choose.
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