During the course of steel fabrication, one of the final processes is to add a finish to the steel sheets. Some finishes serve a particular purpose while others are just mainly decorative. If you work as a construction contractor, you may want to know more about the steel fabrication process of "finishing" and about a few of the finishes that are applied to sheets of steel before they are packaged and sold. You may also want to know what these finishes contribute to the steel sheets you are looking to purchase.
Galvanization is a process whereby metal objects are dipped or rolled and compressed with a molten zinc alloy or zinc compound, respectively. The galvanization process increases the strength of the metal objects or sheets and protects the metals beneath the zinc coatings. It would roughly be the equivalent of providing Superman with a Kevlar vest; not much will get through the steel sheets you buy and use for construction without resulting in some destruction to the object that tries to go through the steel sheets.
Copper plating completely adheres a layer of copper to the steel. As a contractor, you may want smaller sections of copper-plated steel sheeting when you are establishing an electrical wall or need electrical conductivty. The steel maintains its composition and strength underneath the copper, while the copper allows for the flow of electrical impulses over the top of the steel sheet. It is also very good for heat conduction and retention, if you are hired by someone to build a fireplace in the modern style. Last but not least, copper plating just makes the steel look prettier, since steel sheeting is often a very dull silver-gray color.
Acid Washes and Patina Effects
Steel, as a whole, is designed to resist rust and corrosion and not to look pretty. Ergo, when you have a customer or client that requests that the steel sheets you use be "some other color," you can use acid washes to gain a certain patina on the steel sheets. These acid washes may be applied at the steel fabrication plant, or you and your crew can attempt to do the effects yourself. Every sheet will need to sit in a bath of these chemicals, where the chemicals will work on the individual metals in the steel that create the type of steel alloy you have purchased. As the molecules of the different metals in the steel interact with these chemicals, it causes these areas on the steel sheet to rust or corrode and change color. A rainbow patina is a very popular effect, but these acid washes do weaken the steel somewhat. Therefore, use these steel sheets sparingly or only as decoration.
For more information and options for steel, contact a fabricator company, such as Countryside Welding.