They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same can be true for your manufacturing products. In many ways, the surface of your piece is its first impression. The texture and metal composition of the surface often determine how effectively the part works in the final configuration. That is why surface enhancement can be such an important part of your manufacturing plans.
Global Surface Improvement
There are two main categories of surface improvement processes in manufacturing. In the first category, the entire piece is subjected to the same reductive process. For example, a part may be submerged in a chemical bath to remove a layer of rust. This may be necessary to improve the look of the product, or to increase durability.
Global processes can also be used as a form of quality control. Some manufacturing processes can include high heat and interaction with other metals. While the processes would attempt to minimize imperfections, they can occur. Using a chemical bath at the end of every process can remove impurities or heat-damaged surfaces.
There are a variety of methods for achieving such global surface improvements. However, the most effective rely on either a liquid or vapor-based chemical that can affect the entire surface at once. The preferred method will depend on the type of metal and the desired effect.
Etching or Specific Texturing Patterns
The other form of surface enhancement is etching or creating specific textures on the surface. This is generally accomplished by placing a template or mask on the surface of the material before the chemical bath. The masking is often accomplished by applying wax or another acid-resistant material to the protected areas.
Unlike global resurfacing, this method can be used to change or improve functionality. The process has been used in bio-implants where rougher surfaces encourage bone fusing better than smooth surfaces. It can also be used to increase friction so that parts can better “grip” opposing surfaces. Etching also has significant ascetics uses, such as applying logos or preparing a surface for dyes.
Resurfacing can provide critical improvements or new functionality to a variety of pieces. It can also be used to give new life to rusted components or better prepare parts for integration. If your product represents the company, make sure it leaves the best impression.