Surface preparation may seem like a straightforward, easy-to-understand term, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. Going by our logical comprehension of the term itself, surface preparation could be the preparation of any surface to make it ready for any further tasks. The industry definition, on the other hand, goes something like this – it is the technique of treating a surface of most known metals, detecting any anomalies, and removing any outlying residue before going in for additional coatings, paints, or other enhancements. Our logic almost got it right, eh!
To understand surface preparation in its entirety, you need to go beyond the basics and enter the realm of industrial painting and coating replete with its subtle technicalities. Sounds too complex? Don’t worry, for we are here to help you know everything there is to know about surface preparation in simple language.
Untangling the Industry Definition
What do we mean by treating a metal surface? To better understand the answer to this question, we need to first figure out the goal behind using surface preparation techniques. Let us take the example of an overused steel plate. Assume that you want to use it for the construction of an industrial platform. You cannot simply use it as is. The plate may have unwanted residue on its surface that needs to be removed before applying a new coat of paint or adhesives in order to fit or slide it into the platform.
Surface preparation doesn’t just involve cleaning that steel plate with a piece of cloth. The plate needs to undergo various chemical and mechanical treatments to ensure its versatility for the tasks ahead. Treatments like these form one of the many parts of surface preparation. Of course, prior to putting the steel plate through those treatments, you should assess its viability for future use. A few more stages come into the picture before the surface of that plate can be ready for further applications.
Core Surface Preparation Techniques
Any metal that needs to be treated for surface preparation has to endure a series of stringent tests. Experts with credible knowledge about industrial surface preparation, at the Niagara Machine Company, claim that there are four stages of the groundwork that material needs to go through. They are surface assessment, mechanical treatment, chemical treatment, and finishing touches.
Stages of Surface Preparation
- Surface Assessment
Basic standards for assessing the surface of any metal are listed in the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) BS EN ISO 8501-1 section. There are grades A through D that state the factors for determining the successful preparation of any surface.
- Mechanical Treatment
Old coatings and loose parts on the material’s surface need to be removed before applying a new coat. Just scrub the surface with a rough cloth or sandpaper until the original coat of the metal is visible. You may need to apply removal oils to expedite the process.
- Chemical Treatment
There may be underlying residue from exposure to previous industrial treatment on the surface of the material. A residue like that can only be removed by treating it with chemical repellents. For instance, to avoid any corrosion damage in the future, it is important to remove chloride slag from the surface. Additionally, you don’t want the new coating or adhesives to interfere with any other existing debris. Ensure that you examine and discard disadvantageous residue like that.
- Finishing Touches
Applying finishing touches to the material secures it from further damage before applying a new coat. You don’t want it to accumulate more moisture or residue. Make sure that any loose chunks are removed from the surface, and profile the original coatings before moving ahead with a new brush. Furthermore, it is important to dry the metal before it can be applied with a new coat. You don’t want the adhesive to smear and stick on uneven, moisturized parts of the surface.
Usefulness of Surface Preparation
If surface coating is akin to the Batman, then surface preparation embodies the batcave. Just like there is no Batman without his batcave, you cannot effectively coat a surface without preparing it beforehand. The substrate material needs to be cleaned well, treated with chemicals to remove contaminants, and scoured and scraped for any underlying anomalies before it can be newly coated. If you do not apply surface preparation techniques, then your new coat can easily wither in a short time, making the material vulnerable to outside elements.
In essence, surface preparation forms an integral part of any industrial process where used metals are involved. Even newly purchased materials like steel, aluminum, plastic, concrete, and other alloys and synthetic products need to undergo treatment before they can be used for any industrial tasks.