There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to painting manufactured steel goods. To get the most durable finish possible, a pretreatment process for metals such as steel is essential. Pretreatment is simply the process by which you clean and prepare a metal, such as steel, aluminum or brass, and it’s used in a multitude of industries, including automotive, appliance, construction, electrical components, aviation, packaging and more.
Individualized pretreatment process
Pretreatment is not a one-size-fits-all process. The level and type of pretreatment needed to meet your needs depend on how your product will be used, the specifications it has to meet, your budget and the kind of environment in which you’re working.
For steel, you will have anywhere from a single-stage to multiple-stage cleaning:
- The first step is an interim one involving a spray- or immersion-type cleaning using an alkaline solution, followed by a simple rinse with water.
- If the product requires better paint adhesion than can be achieved with a basic cleaning, a traditional conversion coating, such as one containing iron phosphate or zinc phosphate, will be applied. If environmental impact and standards come more into play, a new non-phosphorus pretreatment called a “transition metal coating” can be used. Both of these types of coatings increase the surface area of the metal to maximize paint adhesion. A fresh water rinse would follow.
- A third possible step could include a sealer to cover any voids that you missed in the previous stages or to provide extra protection against rust and corrosion.
- The final step is usually a trip to the drying oven before your final coatings are applied.
Pros and cons of pretreatment
PRO: The primary advantage of steel pretreatment is that it provides a higher-quality end product and prevents the chances for corrosion so your metal goods last longer in the field. If it makes sense for you and your industry, implementing a pretreatment process can set you apart in your marketplace and add value to your manufactured goods.
CON: The biggest disadvantage is that it introduces new steps and added costs to your current process. If you’re spending more on energy costs, chemistry and manpower, you need to make sure it’s worth your while. Consider:
- How many people will be needed to carry out the process?
- What are the energy needs and the expected expenses?
- How much floor space will be needed for this cleaning?
- How much capital investment will it take?
- And will the end results really be a benefit to me?
Before pulling the trigger on a pretreatment process, make sure your vendor partner like HIT Solutions knows enough about your needs and priorities to recommend a plan that will work well for you. This supplier should be looking at what you’re doing, what you want, your equipment, what cleaners you’re currently using, your available floor space, temperature in the space in which you’ll be treating the metal and more. Ask your representative tough questions related to their products to find what they know and don’t know.
There are always new twists on existing chemistries in the areas of coatings and pretreatment. Be sure these innovations are working for you.
If you would like to talk to a consultant about metal pretreatment, contact HIT Solutions at 877-771-4HIT.