For centuries, industries have exploited the incredible corrosion resistance that zinc and zinc plating provide, especially when applied to iron or steel. It is well known that iron and steel are very strong materials with many uses, but once exposed to the elements, these metals easily rust, corrode and break down. However, adding zinc to iron and steel causes an important reaction.
Long ago it was discovered that coating iron with zinc protected it from corrosion in two different ways:
– It seals off the iron much like painting a surface protects it
– Zinc becomes a sacrificial anode
The Role of Sacrificial Anodes
A sacrificial anode gets its name from the role it plays in protecting metals from corrosion. Over time a zinc plating or coating will begin to slightly corrode and as it does, will keep protecting the iron until it is no longer there. In other words, it sacrifices itself to protect the metal it is coating.
Zinc coating has been around since it was first used to protect iron pillars in ancient India, more than 16 centuries ago. Zinc has been used to protect armor and in recent times became part of the process of galvanization. This occurs when items like screws or nails are hot dipped in a molten zinc solution. You will see galvanization for roofing nails, outdoor fasteners, metal fencing, metal water pipes, metal buckets, outdoor structures like metal buildings and many other places.
Did you know brass would not be possible without zinc? The common coating adorning door knobs and many other modern items is only available thanks to zinc. For more than a thousand years, brass has been used in many kinds of metallurgic processes. In fact, over two thousand years ago, ancient Romans created brass weapons for use in battle. Some Roman coins were also made out of brass.
Modern Zinc Plating
Today’s zinc and zinc alloys see a wide range of uses in all kinds of products and industries. DeKalb Metal Finishing has the latest in technology and best-in-class solutions for your business.