Tips for Avoiding Metal Corrosion
Corrosion is the chemical process in which refined metals convert to their more chemically stable form. It's a common phenomenon which results in the gradual destruction of the materials, manifesting as rust. While no metal is completely safe from corrosion, it's possible to slow, manage or stop with certain techniques.
Of course, engineers can incorporate corrosion control in the design process, and manufacturers can apply protective barriers, but the owner of the product can employ strategies as well. Regardless of your role in production or usage, you can take preventive measures to ensure your metal components endure.
With this in mind, we'll detail five pieces of actionable advice for engineers, architects and construction workers who want to avoid metal corrosion. These suggestions are simple to implement, whether you have previous experience with prevention or you're unfamiliar with the procedures. Consider the following.
1. Apply a Barrier Layer With Paint
You can incorporate corrosion resistance with passive coating. As an example, the application of paint on a clean, dry surface will prevent moisture from getting trapped beneath the coat. It's a comparatively simple method which can protect a product — such as a bicycle — from the effects of corrosion.
In fact, this strategy for corrosion protection is common among bicycle manufacturers. With the inclusion of paint in the manufacturing process, they create a barrier layer which improves the corrosion resistance of their goods. During the design stages, you should assess the value of paint as a safeguard.
2. Incorporate Vinyl Wrapping
Other forms of passive coating are also effective for preserving your metal components. In addition to painting products, vinyl wrapping is another option which will assist in the prevention of corrosion. Similar to shrink wrapping, manufacturers heat a vinyl sleeve around the metal they intend to protect.
Expanding on the earlier example, U-lock manufacturers will often employ this technique to reinforce their goods. They'll wrap their locks in vinyl and apply heat, extending the life of their products as they improve corrosion resistance. If your product may benefit from vinyl wrapping, consider its integration.
3. Employ a Powder Coating
Corrosion-protectant powder coating can seal out the possibility of rust formations if and when a metal part undergoes prolonged exposure to the elements. The application of this powder coating is only one of the steps to ensure the longevity of metal components, but it's no less crucial.
Beyond a powder coating, you should also work toward creating an environment that allows your metal parts to breathe and drain properly. In doing so, the agents that cause corrosion won't have an opportunity to fester on the surface of the components. It's a key precaution, as detailed in the next section.
4. Control Environmental Factors
Environmental factors can increase the chance of corrosion. As an example, galvanic corrosion can occur when metal components with two different electrode potentials are in contact along with an electrolyte such as saltwater. The metal with higher electrode activity will erode at the point of contact.
You can prevent this corrosion by storing these parts separately. More than this, you should consider the other environmental factors which cause corrosion and employ methods to control them. These factors include oxygen, sulfur and chloride, which can compromise items in long-term storage.
5. Perform Routine Maintenance
Ongoing maintenance and monitoring are critical to preserving the quality of your metal components. Something as unassuming as a small scratch is enough to cause corrosion. As long as you address these scratches, scrapes, nicks and other instances of damage, you'll keep your parts in good condition.
With this in mind, set aside time to evaluate your metal components and survey them for flaws. Clean these parts on a regular basis, and, if necessary, apply additional protection. As a general rule, a proactive approach is preferable to damage control, and routine maintenance is your greatest asset.
Review Your Options
You have multiple methods of management which prevent corrosion. Whether you're involved in the design process, or you want to maintain your metal components post-purchase, consider the suggestions on this list. Even a small change has the potential to make a significant difference in the life of your parts.
Bio: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.
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