The Art Galvanizing Works, Inc.

Cleveland, Ohio

Galvanizing Process


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Galvanizing for Corrosion Protection
Additional Process Information

The Metallurgical Bond

    Galvanizing forms a metallurgical bond between the zinc and the underlying steel or iron, creating a barrier that is part of the metal itself. During galvanizing, the molten zinc reacts with the surface of the steel or iron article to form a series of zinc/iron alloy layers. 

    The galvanized coating is adherent to the underlying steel on the order of sev­eral thousand pounds per square inch (psi). Other coatings typically offer adhesion rated at several hundred psi at best. 

    Hardness, ductility, and adherence combine to provide the galvanized coating with unmatched protection against damage caused by rough handling during trans­portation to and/or at the job site, as well in service. The toughness of the galvanized coating is extremely important since barrier protection is dependent upon the integri­ty of the coating. 

    Other coatings damage easily during shipment or through rough handling on the job site. Experts will argue that all organic forms of barrier protection (such as paint) by their nature are permeable to some degree. Correctly applied galvanized coatings are impermeable. 

    If the galvanized coating is physically damaged, it will continue cathodic protection to the exposed steel. If individ­ual areas of underlying steel or iron become exposed as much as 1/4”, the surrounding zinc will provide these areas with cathodic protection for as long as the coating lasts.

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    The galvanizing process naturally produces coatings that are at least as thick at the corners and edges as the coating on the rest of the article. As coating damage is most likely to occur at the edges, this is where added protection is needed most. Brush or spray applied coatings have a natural tendency to thin at the corners and edges.

    Because the galvanizing process involves total immersion of the material, it is a complete process~ all surfaces are coated. Galvanizing provides both outside and inside protection for hollow structures. Hollow structures that are painted have no corrosion

   The inspection process for galvanized items is simple, fast, and requires minimal labor. This is important because the inspection process required to assure the quality of many brush and spray applied coatings is highly labor intensive and uses expensive skilled labor.

   Galvanizing continues at the factory under any weather or humidity conditions. Most brush and spray applied coatings are dependent upon proper weather and humidity conditions for correct applica­tion. This dependence on atmospheric conditions often translates into costly construction delays.

   The galvanizer’s ability to work in any type of weather allows a higher degree of assurance of on-time delivery. Working under these circumstances, galvanizing can be completed quickly and with short lead times. A turnaround time o~f two or three days for galvanizing is common.


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Coatings Thickness

    ASTM, CSA, and AASHTO specifications establish minimum standards for thickness of galvanized coatings on various categories of items. These minimum stan­dards are routinely exceeded by galvanizers due to the nature of the galvanizing process. Factors influencing the thickness and appearance of the galvanized coating include chemical composition of the steel, steel surface condition, cold working of steel prior to galvanizing, bath temperature, bath immersion time, bath withdrawal rate, and steel cooling rate.

    The chemical composition of the steel being galvanized is very important. The amount of silicon and phosphorus in the steel strongly influences the thickness and appearance of the galvanized coating. Silicon, phosphorous, or combinations of the two elements can cause thick, brittle galvanized coatings. The coating thickness curve shown in Figure 10 relates the effect of silicon in the base steel to the thickness of the zinc coating. The carbon, sulfur, and manganese content of the steel also may have a minor effect on the galvanized coating thickness.

    The combination of elements mentioned above, known as “reactive steel” to the galvanizing industry, tend to accelerate the growth of zinc-iron alloy layers. This may result in a finished galvanized coating consisting entirely of zinc-iron alloy. Instead of a shiny appearance, the galvanized coating will have a dark gray, matte finish. This dark gray, matte coating will provide as much corrosion protection as a galvanized coating having the common bright appearance.


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3935 Valley Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44109
Phone: (216) 749-0020
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