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There are several different processes for galvanizing metal:
As the name implies, this method involves dipping the base metal into a molten pool of zinc. First, the base metal must be cleaned either mechanically, chemically, or both to assure a quality bond can be made between the base metal and the zinc coating. Once cleaned, the base metal is then fluxed to rid it of any residual oxides that might remain after the cleaning process. The base metal is then dipped into a liquid bath of heated zinc and a metallurgical bond is formed.
The advantages of this method are that it is economical; it can be performed quickly and to complex shapes. However, the final coating can be inconsistent relative to other galvanizing processes.
This method is very similar to hot-dip galvanizing but is performed at the steel mill, usually on materials that already have a specific shape. Pre-galvanizing involves rolling metal sheet through a similar cleaning process to that of the hot-dip galvanizing process. The metal is then passed through a pool of hot, liquid zinc and then recoiled.
An advantage of this method is that large coils of steel sheet can be rapidly galvanized with a more uniform coating compared to hot-dip galvanizing. A disadvantage is that once fabrication of the pre-galvanized metal begins, exposed, uncoated areas will become present. This means that when a long coil of sheet is cut into smaller sizes, the edges where the metal is cut are left exposed.
Unlike the previous processes, electrogalvanizing does not use a molten bath of zinc. Instead, this process utilizes an electrical current in an electrolyte solution to transfer zinc ions onto the base metal. This involves electrically reducing positively charged zinc ions to zinc metal which are then deposited on the positively charged material. Grain refiners can also be added which helps to ensure a smooth zinc coating on the steel. Similar to the pre-galvanizing process, electrogalvanizing is typically applied continuously to a roll of sheet metal.
Some advantages of this process are a uniform coating and precise coating thickness. However, the coating is typically thinner than the coating of zinc achieved by the hot-dip galvanizing method which can result in reduced corrosion protection.