Sheet Metal Fabrication Finishing Options: Plating vs. Powder Coating (Updated for 2023)

Last updated on November 15th, 2023 at 11:01 am

Metal finishing is a crucial last step in the sheet metal fabrication process. Finishing improves the aesthetic appearance of a part and reduces surface roughness for parts that need to mate or seal. It also provides extra durability and protection.

At Approved Sheet Metal, our finishing options include plating (anodizing and chromate) and powder coating. Here’s a quick overview of each option:

Finishing Options: Anodize, Chromate, and Powder Coating

  • Anodizing is the process of adding a thicker, oxide layer over aluminum to protect it from rust and wear. It not only protects aluminum alloys from weather and the elements, but also provides electrical insulation. Approved Sheet Metal offers both clear and color anodizing.
  • Chromate or chromate conversion coating is a chemical treatment that passivates metal for stronger corrosion resistance and electrical conductivity.
  • Powder coating consists of applying dry powder (usually made out of thermoplastics) electrostatically to create a hard finish that is more long lasting than wet paint.

Which Finishing Process to Use for Your Custom Metal Fabrication

Want to know which process to use for your sheet metal fabrication? Here’s what our expert finisher recommends:

Sheet Metal Cover

Use plating (anodizing or chromate) when. . .

  • You need a corrosion resistant part
  • You need an electrically conductive part
  • You need a part that will withstand a high degree of wear

Use powder coating when. . .

  • You need a large part. 4’x4’ is a standard size for powder coating.
  • You’re pressed for time. Lead times vary depending on individual vendors, but powder coating is generally a faster process than plating.
  • You need a unique color. Powder coating has significantly more color options than plating.

You may be wondering why we don’t offer wet paint services at our sheet metal shop. It’s because more often than not, wet paint is inconsistent. Powder coating provides more even layers and is more durable in the face of wear and weather.

A Quick Word on Color Matching

No matter which finishing method you choose for your sheet metal fabrication, you may want to get a test sample of your part to ensure color matching. Sheet metal fabricators use RAL codes for colors the way designers use HEX codes. If you give us a RAL code for the color you want to use, we can easily find a match for whatever finishing process we’re using.

Need finishing services for your custom metal fabrication? Send it to us! Request a quote today and we’ll respond within 4 hours.

Sheet Metal Fabrication Finishing Options FAQ

Metal finishing is a crucial final step that enhances the aesthetic appearance of a part, reduces surface roughness for mating or sealing, and provides additional durability and protection. It is essential for improving both the functionality and visual appeal of fabricated sheet metal parts.

Approved Sheet Metal provides three main finishing options: anodizing (clear and color options), chromate (chemical treatment for corrosion resistance and conductivity), and powder coating (electrostatically applied dry powder for a durable finish). Each option serves specific purposes, offering varying degrees of protection, aesthetics, and functionality.

Plating is recommended when you need a corrosion-resistant, electrically conductive part that can withstand high wear. Both anodizing and chromate processes provide effective protection against rust, wear, and environmental elements.

Powder coating is ideal when you need a large part (standard size 4’x4’), have time constraints (as it generally has shorter lead times than plating), or require a unique color. Powder coating offers a wide range of color options and is known for its durability in the face of wear and weather.

Approved Sheet Metal opts for powder coating over wet paint due to its consistency and durability. Powder coating provides more even layers and proves to be more resilient in the face of wear and weather. This choice ensures a higher quality and longer-lasting finish for sheet metal parts.

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