How beneficial is galvanisation in fabrication?
Galvanising is a process that is commonly used in the metal fabrication industry. This is mostly because it allows fabricators to properly protect their steel using an efficient and effective process. There are many reasons why galvanisation is used over other protective coating methods. Below is just a few of the benefits for galvanising in fabrication.
Firstly, what is galvanising?
The process of galvanising involves using a zinc coating to hot dip galvanise your steel. The zinc then reacts with the steel to create a protective seal around the metal with the aim of minimising corrosion over time. Coating the metal ensures there’s a sacrificial anode to protect it and that it can withstand any conditions for the longest time possible. When steel is galvanised, it prevents any corrosive materials from touching or damaging it.
What are the benefits of galvanisation in fabrication?
Galvanising is a fast process. The coating only needs to be dipped once and the metal will be protected. Other coatings need to be sprayed or painted which takes significantly longer. The time it takes for the coating to dry is also a lot quicker, galvanisation only takes around one day to set, whilst other methods can take much longer.
Galvanised steel lasts considerably longer than other treatment processes. The steel will be covered and high-quality corrosion protection in place, meaning you won’t need to go through the hassle of replacing it further down the line. Steel that has been galvanised comes with a long-life guarantee, so it’s sure to last.
Easy to maintain
With galvanised steel, you won’t need any harsh chemicals in order to effectively maintain the steel or prevent corrosion. The steel already has a protective cover from the galvanisation process during steel fabrication. The only maintenance that will be required to keep the steel looking fresh and functioning as it should is the occasional wipe down a couple of times a year.
Simple inspection process
Galvanisation creates a covering that’s continuous and strong, so you don’t need to worry about what’s underneath it. Any flaws will be easy to see and therefore can quickly be addressed. The lack of flaws you will get from this coating will allow the inspection process to be streamlined, making overall fabrication faster and more efficient.
The coating comes in a matte-grey colour which means it can easily match its surroundings, so you can save time on painting it. Also, as the metal ages, the colour won’t fade which means it will always look aesthetically appealing. If you decide that you want to change the colour, it is simple to powder coat it, ensuring a smooth and seamless colour change.
Given that galvanisation is so quick and effective in streamlining, it’s a process that will save you time and money on labour hours. In addition, the products that are used for coating are a lot less expensive than other metal preservation products. Due to the coating having such good longevity, you will save money over time because you won’t need to replace the coating or the product itself.
What are some common considerations in galvanised steel metal fabrication?
As you can see galvanisation in fabrication is a cost effective and easily accessible process for producing a steel product that’s long-lasting with a significantly greater aesthetic appeal than bare metal. However, a number of considerations still need to be made when preparing metal to be galvanised:
- Bending steel- when bending the steel, careful thought must be put into when the steel should be bent. If the steel is bent after galvanisation, there is a greater risk of cracking. Usually though, this cracking can be fixed.
- Bolts, nails, and fasteners- because bolts, nails, and fasteners are essential to the integrity of a project, galvanisation is a considerably stronger option than just coating steel for this purpose. Galvanisation makes sure there is a full coverage coating that is crucial to the lifespan of steel fasteners.
- Dulling- one of the most appealing features of galvanisation is its initial shiny appearance. Even though this shine can dull as time passes, many people prefer the duller look of galvanised steel that has been weathered for a period of time. If it is wanted, this finish can be achieved as part of the initial design process.
- Masking- in some cases, you might not want to galvanise the entire surface of a steel part. This can easily be resolved through masking with special tapes, paints, pastes, and greases. Though it is simple, masking isn’t completely fool proof, and some grinding might be needed to get back to the original steel product.
- Material handling- checking if lifting points are needed in the design is an important consideration before galvanising steel. Lifting points enable coverage to be completed without leaving unwanted marks on the metal.
- Moving parts- when moving parts are involved in a project, each piece should be galvanised separately and then put together. If it is not done this way moving parts might freeze in place or bond to each other.
- Surface condition- starting with appropriately prepared steel is essential to the success of the metallurgical bond that is achieved during the galvanisation process. A common preparation method is to clean the steel by immersing it in a chemical pre-treatment bath. Abrasive blasting might also be required when sand, welding slag, or paints are present.
- Warping and steel distortion- design plays a key role in preventing warping and the distortion of the steel during galvanisation. Having surfaces with symmetrical designs and similar levels of thickness can lower the risk of warping. When galvanising steel that has asymmetrical or thin-walled designs, temporary bracing can help protect against warping and distortion.
- Welding- the best way to guarantee even galvanisation is to galvanise after welding. Sometimes though, this just isn’t possible. In those situations, all welding materials need to be well-monitored for compatibility with the base steel for a quality weld.
Contact FEM today to discuss your fabrication engineering needs. Our team are experts in their field and always ensure the highest standard of fabrication service.