Various methods are available for the surface treatment of metals, before any operation such as printing, adhesion, or coating is carried out on the surface of the metals. The process of treatment of any component made from metal (or polymer) before application of coating on the surface of the component is known as surface treatment of metal. Surface treatment of the metal ensures that the metal surface can adhere to the coating or printing that is about to be applied to it as the treatment increases the surface energy level of the metal’s surface.
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The process of metal surface treatment is also known as coatings pretreatment. The process creates a barrier between the metal and its surrounding which acts as a protective wall, particularly against corrosion. The surface layer is formed due to chemical reaction, which is non-electrolytic in nature, between the metal surface and the treatment chemical solution. These layers are adherent, inorganic crystalline, or amorphous.
The protective film formed by the metal surface treatment chemicals is required to neutralize the possible anodic and cathodic corrosion areas. This provides an absorptive base for adhesion to finishes, such as paints. Commonly employed metal surface treatment chemicals include chemical conversion coatings. They are employed on metal parts that are to be painted. These chemical coatings are acidic in nature. They are employed before applying paint, which converts the metal surface into a metal phosphate surface. These coatings enhance the adhesion of paint by modifying the metal surface. Application of these coatings can either be a chemical process or an electro-chemical process.
Examples of conversion coating used as metal surface treatment chemicals include phosphate and chromate coatings with base metal as iron, nickel, or zinc. Metal oxides are also used in the process of metal surface treatment. Typically, chromate coatings are employed on aluminum substrate, whereas, phosphate coatings are used on steel or galvanized steel.
Products available for surface treatment of metal include protective oils, rust and scale removers, oil and dirt removers, detergent, and others. These products are applied as surface layer coating over the metal surface set for processing. These coatings are typically made of oxides, chromates, and phosphates. Different chemical coatings are available in the market. The metal substrates on which surface treatment chemicals are applied are of two types – ferrous and non-ferrous metals, based on which different products are available. Certain surface treatment chemicals can be applied on multiple metals.
Presently, focus on innovating and developing environment-friendly products in coatings pretreatment is on the rise. In order to remove heavy metals such as zinc, nickel, and phosphates from process water, several industries utilizing metal surface treatment chemicals have their in-house waste water pretreatment system. In spite of this, development of eco-friendly metal surface treatment chemicals is treated as cost effective alternative over waste water pretreatment process.
Numerous industries use metal surface treatment chemicals regularly. Metal surface treatment chemicals help enhance longevity of metals used in automotive or as construction materials. Examples of industries using metal surface treatment chemicals are automotive, construction, electrical, medical, industrial equipment, aerospace, etc.
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Sometimes, the paint applied onto a metal surface spills into different layers due to improper surface treatment of the metal body, which can be avoided through proper metal surface treatment process. The treatment chemicals allow the curing process to take place which enables mechanical bonding between metal surface and the paint. The quality of paint adhesion and field performance of the metal part are dependent on the quality of the paint quality and the conversion coating beneath it.
Key players in the metal surface treatment chemicals market include BASF SE, Vanchem Performance Chemicals, KYOEISHA CHEMICAL Co. LTD., AD International, and Tantec A/S.
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