Manufacturers have come to understand that few aspects of component design are more important than the finish. Whatever the function of a product, it is usually the surface that imparts it; whatever the weaknesses, it is the surface where they first manifest.
Improving surface properties allows products to be lighter, stronger, more durable and more attractive. It enables them to withstand the rigours of more extreme environments, such as high temperatures, or to continue functioning without constant maintenance, such as relubrication. By re-engineering the surface, you can improve electrical qualities, corrosion resistance, or use a lower-cost material.
As a result, many different types of surface treatments are now available and new ones are constantly being developed. For the manufacturer, this is both a huge advance and a burden. Understanding the pros and cons of each method and costing them often requires outside advice.
Choosing surface treatments
Identifying basic quality control essentials with precision is hard enough; in fact, even simple things such as deburring are still often worked out post-production in response to customer complaints. This is hardly an ideal way to set quality control standards; therefore, when selecting a treatment, the ability to test your design requirements and your product runs is a vital consideration.
Using the latest laboratory resources, specialists can analyse the performance of your existing product so that you can predict the precise improvements offered by anodising, electroplating, plasma spraying, conversion coating, or any other process. Specialists are available to support your quality control routines after items go into production or deployment.
Finding the right tools
Choosing surface qualities is only half the battle – the other is applying them. Even simple operations can be a challenge in some circumstances. It can be an expensive mistake to set up a new machine line only to discover that one process cannot complete in situ or cannot coordinate with neighbouring equipment.
Designing a procedure in isolation from the entire production process is almost as nonsensical as designing a component without regard to the other components it works with. Again, the mark of a sound surfacing specialist is its ability to consider all your tooling requirements and limitations in advance.