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Galvanized steel is standard steel that is coated in zinc to provide enhanced corrosion resistance. The galvanized protective coating protects the iron steel substrate from corrosion due to moisture, saturated environmental conditions, or ambient humidity. The galvanization process produces a sacrificial layer between the zinc protective layer and the steel, allowing for maximum protection from rust inducing elements.
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The Galvanized Steel Manufacturing ProcessTypically, manufacturers will dip the steel into molten zinc, which bonds itself to the steel as any other alloy would. This makes zinc more than just a protective coating because it becomes part of the steel’s chemical composition. The interior may be steel, and the exterior may be zinc, but in between are gradient mixtures of steel and zinc that combine the properties of both metals.
- Hot-dipped galvanization is the most common form of galvanization.
- You can also spray zinc onto steel, but this method creates a weaker layer of zinc.
Galvanized Steel ApplicationsIdeal for outdoor purposes, galvanized steel is coated with zinc oxide for rust protection. Zinc-oxide provides a protective coating used to prevent rust. The zinc-oxide coating compound takes longer to corrode than non-galvanized steel. As a cost-efficient process, galvanized steel offers you a maintenance-free material option used across a wide range of industries.
Galvanized Steel AdvantagesSince its sacrificial zinc layer protects from many different types of environmental conditions, galvanized steel offers many unique benefits, these include:
- Rust Resistance: Iron in steel is incredibly prone to rust, but zinc acts as a protective buffer between moisture, oxygen, and steel.
- Easy Inspection: It’s fairly simple to tell how strong a galvanized coating is, just by looking at it. Quick stress tests that can tell you how thick the zinc is.
- Sacrificial Anode: This ensures that any damaged steel is protected by the surrounding zinc coating. It doesn’t matter if the steel section is completely exposed; the zinc will still corrode first.
- Longer Life: With galvanization, a piece of industrial steel is expected to last more than 50 years in average environments and can last over 20 years with severe water exposure. No maintenance required.
Galvanized Steel DisadvantagesGalvanized steel is not appropriate for all applications. Certain industrial applications will not warrant the use of galvanized steel due to the following disadvantages:
- Impractical to Dip Certain Items: Some steel pieces are too tiny or too huge to be hot-dipped, and it doesn’t make sense to galvanize them using other methods.
- Zinc Can Be Temperamental: It’s important to take enough time to let galvanized steel cool down and settle in, so that the zinc doesn’t peel off. Galvanization isn’t nearly as effective if the zinc is not binding to the steel. The right coating thickness must be applied.
Does Galvanized Steel Rust?While galvanized steel provides a protective zinc-oxide barrier, eventually even galvanized steel will rust. The question remains how quickly galvanized steel will rust, with some galvanization lasting upwards of 50 years or more. Some factors that increase corrosion include:
- Outdoor environmental issues such as saltwater or humidity.
- Atmospheric considerations like natural gas or acid rain.
- Temperature fluctuations.
- Air pollution.
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Galvanized Steel Product OptionsCommon galvanized steel products include galvanized steel tube and galvanized steel sheet and plate.
Galvanized Steel TubeCommon uses for galvanized steel tube include:
- General construction
- Outdoor architectural projects
- Machine parts
Galvanized Sheet & PlateGalvanized steel sheet and plate is easily fabricated and weldable. Common uses for galvanized steel sheet and plate include:
- Building panels
- Lighting fixtures
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