THIS 250-YEAR-OLD PROCESS IS STILL REVOLUTIONIZING THE STEEL INDUSTRY
While today the practice is fairly ubiquitous, it’s come a long way. The basic chemical changes caused by dipping iron in molten zinc were noted as early as 1742, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that the practice began to take off. Once companies began taking advantage of the process, however, it spread like wildfire. By 1850, the galvanizing industry in Britain was protecting steel with over 10,000 gallons of zinc annually. Twenty years later, the first American galvanizing plant opened, improving and expanding the possibilities of domestic steel.
Today, galvanizing plants are more cost-effective, sustainable, available and more versatile in use than ever before. Though much of the process remains the same now as it did all those years ago, galvanizing, especially the hot-dip application, has evolved into an essential practice in many industries.
PROTECTION DESIGNED TO LAST
Perhaps the most obvious reason for choosing to galvanize steel is simply the corrosion protection that it offers. Often large-scale building projects will result in steel being subject to harsh and volatile environments. If a protective coating is not added to the steel, this will result in a high rate of corrosion. This means the lifespan of the steel being used will be much shorter than galvanized steel in similar environments. In addition, the cost to replace corroded steel can significantly impact long term returns for companies. The chemical reaction between the zinc and iron creates a tightly bonded alloy coating that can withstand harsh conditions. As an added benefit, the zinc itself actually has a sacrificial property. This means that the zinc will preferentially corrode to protect the steel underneath in a process called cathodic protection. Because of this, there are few steps that can extend the lifespan of your steel as much as galvanizing.
HOT-DIP CREATES A TOTAL SHIELD
Another reason to turn to hot-dip galvanizing is the uniform protection, and therefore increased durability, that it provides. Because the steel is completely immersed in the galvanizing kettle, the alloy coating grows evenly across the entire surface, preventing the usual thick and uneven buildups common in other forms of the process. This ensures that there will not be an area of the steel with an uneven rate of wear, making hot-dip galvanizing the method of choice for industries ranging from petro-chemical to bridge construction. The zinc patina created during galvanization plays a big role in this protection. Due to by-products created when zinc begins to corrode, a patina forms which slows the corrosion to about 1/30 of the rate of steel. On top of that, the coating has innate abrasion resistance, which is particularly important for high-intensity projects.
LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD
Finally, hot-dip galvanizing provides an aesthetically pleasing product. Whether the steel is being used for a sculpture out front of a new office building, exposed steel architecture, or even infrastructure projects, hot-dip galvanizing results in an attractive and natural-looking gray finish. The zinc coating also makes the steel easier to paint, so color can easily be added. Aesthetics are important for any construction project, and hot-dip galvanizing makes it easier to build something beautiful.
Whether you are looking to reduce long term costs, build with a flexible and plentiful material, or simply need steel with impressive longevity, hot-dip galvanizing is where you should turn. AZZ offers industry leading galvanizing solutions with over 43 operations throughout the United States and Canada. With extensive experience and expertise across a wide range of industries, they know how to tailor solutions to the exact needs of their customers. To find out more about AZZ, or to learn why hot-dip galvanizing can improve your next project, visit AZZ online today!