Any time you're working with sheet metal, you need to determine how you'll finish that sheet metal. You have a lot of options, but the two primary choices are either painting or electroplating. Before you make any decision, you should ensure that you understand both options clearly enough to decide which is best for your needs. Here's a look at the basics of each finishing choice so you can determine which is best for you.
Because electroplating actually forms a solid layer of thin metal on the surface of the aluminum, it's typically considered to be a more durable and longer-lasting finish. The adhered coating offers significant protection against wear, impact damage, and corrosion.
In addition, since the coating is bonded directly to the aluminum, the aluminum heats and cools at the same rate as the electroplating, making it a flexible finish coating as well. You can easily coat metals of all shapes and sizes with electroplating, getting a continuous, even coating with ease.
You'll have several options for the base metal in the electroplating. Carefully consider your needs to determine what is best for the situation. For example, zinc is an ideal choice when the object will be exposed to water or moisture. Chrome is great for higher friction environments because it helps to reduce any friction between metals.
Despite the benefits of electroplating, sometimes it's preferable to paint your sheet metal. For example, if you only intend to finish the immediately visible surfaces, painting is sufficient. You won't need to go to the extent or the cost of electroplating in those situations.
In addition, painting is often far more cost-effective than electroplating in general, so if you are looking to control your production costs, choosing to paint is an ideal option. It is far more affordable per-piece, allowing you to keep your costs down significantly.
You can choose from a wide variety of colors when you opt for painting. That allows for complete customization of every aluminum sheet and component because you can tailor each color to its function, purpose, or design. Your options are as widespread as the number of paint colors that are available.
Understanding the finishing options will help you to properly protect and care for your aluminum sheets no matter what the project may be. Consider these two options and reach out to a sheet metal contractor from a company like Garelick Steel for more information about how and when to finish your aluminum sheets.