Galvanized steel is steel that has been put through a chemical process called alloying, which coats it in another metal, zinc, which helps it resist corrosion (rust). The zinc is permanently bonded to the steel through a chemical reaction called galvanization. This is not a sealing process, as most people would think of something like paint. Instead, the zinc is bonded to the steel to become a part of it. The layer seen on the outermost surface of the steel is all zinc, but it also has layers of a combination of zinc and iron. The inner part is still pure steel.
This process is called hot-dipping galvanization, which is one of the most popular and common methods of galvanizing steel. This can be done with a continuous sheet of steel, which runs the sheet through molten zinc, leaving a thin layer of protective metal. Steel is also sprayed or painted with zinc, but neither of these methods provide as strong a bond as hot-dipping does. Another method of this involves using electricity between the metals, resulting in a relatively thin layer of zinc. This method is called electroplating or electro galvanizing.
Degrees of Galvanizing
The extent to which a piece of steel is galvanized is usually referred to as it’s weight per surface area instead of its thickness. This is a better description of how much metal has been applied to the surface. This galvanization process is usually performed after the individual parts—nails, screws, braces, beams, studs and other pieces—have been formed in the manufacturing process. Galvanizing individual sheets of steel is usually done prior to the metal being used to create products. Despite this, however, it can withstand a great degree of forming and bending without flaking of the layers.
The Advantages of Galvanization
Zinc protects steel in several ways. Two of the most important is to make it highly resistant to rust and giving it a very durable and scratch-resistant surface.
Without the process of galvanization, steel is highly reactive to oxygen, which combined with moisture, causes it to eventually disintegrate, or rust. Coating steel with zinc prevents these elements from reaching the steel inside so quickly. This also gives the surface a nice patina, which is the layer of zinc which oxides, salt, and other materials that gives more protection to the surface. Zinc is also what gives the surface its satiny appearance many find so attractive.
When rust does not, for whatever reason, take hold of the steel by acting as a “sacrificial layer” it still takes hold of the surface, which allows the zinc to corrode first. Even if the surface is damaged or scratched, the zinc will corrode before the steel does. Another benefit of galvanized steel is it’s lifetime, which can be as long as 70 years under average conditions and without maintenance.
Uses and the Core Product Shapes
Galvanized steel has a number of benefits besides making it more resistant to corrosion. Galvanized steel allows it to be used in many more places than it would otherwise. This includes buildings and homes that are made with roofs made of galvanized steel. Cars also have many steel parts that help them withstand the impact of inclement weather. Even boats have many steel parts due to its ability to withstand salt and other elements. Compared with other materials, steel is relatively inexpensive to use, it is effective and durable, and can be reused and recycled many times.
Along with the aforementioned benefits, the characteristics of galvanized steel allow it to be formed in any number of shapes for use in a variety of applications and industries. These shapes include angles, channels, beams, square and rectangular tubes, pipes, flat bars, sheets and plates, and grating. Thanks to a great extent to the unique properties of galvanized steel there are many uses for it. These include:
Perhaps one of the important advantages to galvanized steel is that there are so few disadvantages to it. Galvanization is, for example, not always a good method to protect some steel products. Some objects cannot be hot-dipped, either because they are too small or too big. As a result, other methods of galvanization must be used.
Regardless of its application, the uses of galvanized steel have proven to be highly effective, not only in the wide variety of uses, but in the variety of products as well. Galvanized steel has for years proven itself as a reliable product and method of keeping steel vital for the long run, regardless of what that use might be. Further, the development of core shapes have also made it a practical material for whatever the need might be for strong, dependable material
When buying galvanized steel make sure you purchase from a reputable metal supplier, Hamill Metals has been servicing the state of Oklahoma for more than 25 years. Call Today for more information about our products!