In metal fabrication, a variety of metals are used. However, if you want to ensure the sheet metal is strong and durable, you will have to opt for a finish. This will not only protect the metal surface, it also will make certain metals such as aluminum, stronger and more resilient.
While there are many types of finishes, two commonly used metal finishes are electroplating the metal or painting. Both have their pros, based on the application of the sheet metal. Understanding them will allow you to make an informed decision. To make the right decision, you should know where and how you intend using the sheet metal.
Plating, also known as electroplating, involves plating a layer of another metal on the surface of the sheet metal. This protects the sheet metal and makes it more durable and adds to its strength.
Painting Sheet Metal
As the term suggests, painting involves applying paint on the surface of the sheet metal. However, before paint is applied, the surface has to be sanded lightly and then a layer of primer is applied. The good part about painting is you can choose the color of the paint which forms a protective layer over the sheet metal.
Benefits of Electroplating and Painting Sheet Metal
While electroplating and painting sheet metal are pretty similar, each process has its own benefits after the sheet metal is fabricated.
- When you electroplate the sheet metal, you can expect more protection from corrosion. Electroplating prevents the metal underneath from rusting and this can be a boon in areas where oxidation of metal is common due to environmental factors. Furthermore, coating also prevents the sheet metal from getting damage if you strike it.
- If you live in a place where there are significant temperature fluctuations daily or seasonally, plating is the best option, as the coating and sheet metal expand and contract simultaneously.
- Electroplating tends to coat the metal surface evenly and can be used for designs that are awkwardly shaped. It adds to the beautification, thereby giving the metal a smooth and polished look.
- Depending on the use of the sheet metal, you can choose the metal that is used for electroplating. For instance, if you want the sheet to look appealing while reducing friction, chrome is perfect for electroplating. On the other hand if you want to protect the metal from water, zinc is used for electroplating.
- If environmental factors are a cause for concern, you should always go in for plating the metal surface.
- Compared to electroplating, painting the sheet metal is more cost effective. So, if you are looking for durability without spending too much money, painting the sheet metal offers you the same benefits as electroplating.
- Furthermore, at times, you do not have to paint the entire sheet. You have the option of choosing how much of the sheet’s surface requires protection and just get that portion painted. This can further reduce the cost of painting the sheet metal.
- Painting allows you to choose the color that you want on the sheet metal and many times, you also can add logos and other creative designs on the sheet to enhance its appearance or create brand awareness.
- Just like plating, painting too offers thin finish, as the paint is sprayed on to evenly coat the metal surface. If the job is small, you should opt for painting, as it offers you a more economic finish compared to plating. However, painting is not without its drawbacks. The sheet metal would require multiple coatings to get an even finish and over a period of time, you would have to re-finish the sheet metal to maintain its appearance.
Which Is More Durable?
Both plating and painting offer superior corrosion protection. However, many people assume plating is a better choice because they have paint jobs fail. The cause for failure is the metal surface not being properly prepared. While it is necessary to sand and rough up the sheet metal surface, forgetting primer application can be disastrous. Primer bridges the gap between the sheet metal and paint.
As the process of paint application on sheet metal is not complicated like plating, it is a cheaper option. If you are concerned about costs, painting is ideal. It offers the same benefits as plating. So you can rest assured knowing the sheet metal will be protected, but at a reduced cost.