Surface finishing is one finishing manufacturing operation applied to certain types of workpieces. This process alters the surface appearance of a workpiece by performing different actions that can reshape, remove, or add to the final product.
The methods used will vary based on the type of material the workpiece is being produced from and the desired results.
What Benefits Are Gained by Surface Finishing?
There are many benefits that can be achieved with surfacing finishing, including:
- Improves the Product’s Appearance
- Helps the Product Last Longer
- Improves Resistance to Corrosion
- Increases Chemical Resistance
- Increases the Strength of the Material
- Makes It Easier to Apply Paint/Coatings
- Improves Electrical Conduction
- Reduces Friction
- Improves Resistance to Wear
- Removes Defects in the Surface
It is important to keep in mind that, sometimes, there can be more than one finishing operation capable of achieving similar results. For example, applying paint to the surface could be accomplished using powder coating, applying wet pain, or anodizing.
Steps in the Surface Finishing Process
The steps in the surface finishing process will depend on the results desired. The more common surface finishing processes used include:
Polishing: The surface is refined by either removing the outer layer or using various products and techniques to make it smooth.
Laser Engraving: This finishing process involves removing part of the surface material to etch designs, lettering, and other such things into the surface.
Powder Coating: A powder coating is applied to the surface of the workpiece using various methods. The workpiece is then baked in an oven so the coating can cure and hardened. The end result is a durable, thick coating.
Plating: This finishing process requires adding a type of metal onto the surface of the workpiece. Electroplating is the most common plating method used to bond one metal to another—like chrome over steel.
Anodizing: Anodizing is done to make the workpiece resistant to corrosion by adding an outer coating to the workpiece. Electrolytic processes are typically used and add a hard oxide layer to the workpiece.
Pickling: This finishing process is where irregularities on the workpiece surface are removed by using some type of acid, as when removing scale from a metal workpiece.
Grinding: Grinding helps remove any irregularities in the workpiece surface, such as removing a molding joint.
For some workpieces, you may only require a single process and, with others, it may require two or more. For instance, you may want to use anodizing to help protect the workpiece from corrosion, but also want it to have a polished appearance. In this example, you would use anodizing and polishing finishing processes.
Categories of Finishes
The finishes can be broken down into three different categories based on what is being done to the workpiece:
1. Remove Material: Laser engraving is a good example of this category.
2. Add Material: Powder coating and anodizing would fall under this category.
3. Reshape/Alter the Surface: Grinding and pickling are finishing processes that would fit in this category.
Deciding what finishing processes your pieces need can be challenging when you have multiple options. In general, you want to choose the processes that can maintain desired production levels, maintain the quality of the workpiece, and balance your budget.
Laszeray Technology, LLC Can Help with Surface Finishing
For further assistance and help determining what finishing manufacturing operations you need and whether surface finishing would be the best choice, please feel free to contact Laszeray Technology, LLC at 440-582-8430 today! We offer a wide range of the latest machining processes to help you achieve the results you seek.
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