Finishing Processes

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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It's impossible to generalize about the field of finishing processes, as it encapsulates so many different procedures and methods. One can, however, break these processes down into two main camps: chemical and physical finishing. The former of these is mostly done through the use of tanks or baths, while the latter involves the physical alteration of surface materials through hands-on adjustments.

Within the classification of chemical processes are included etching and degreasing. Here, the surface materials that coat the substrate are being manipulated in chemical baths before being "dragged out" or rinsed. In some cases, stubborn parts or sophisticated jobs may require multiple chemical treatments in succession before a final surface coating can be applied.

Physical Finishing Processes

Under the banner of physical finishing processes fall techniques such as power-blasting, sanding, polishing, and grinding. In cases such as these, the surface material itself is being physically altered to take on new attributes. It's instructive to remember that metals may be categorized by any number of inherent properties such as conductivity, retention, and other "tolerances," all of which may be modified to make them more or less suitable for coating.

As with most things, physical and electrochemical finishing processes both have their own pros and cons. The major advantage that chemical treatments claim is ease of use; it's much more convenient to dip a metal in a solvent or bath than it is to physically grind away or restore coatings by hand (or machine). On the flip side, chemical processes have a higher incidence of waste that must be properly removed, which is not the case with physical finishing processes--hence, the tradeoff.

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