Finishing processes are an important part of production and manufacture for a number of industries.
Altering the surface of an item may add an extra dimension to it, not only from an aesthetic point of view but also in a highly practical way that makes the surface finish an integral part of the component.
The finishing process may be applied to improve the appearance of an item or influence adhesion or its wettability as well as to improve resistance to corrosion and help protect against wear or chemical impact. It can also affect the hardness, be used to modify the electrical conductivity and also help to remove or hide surface flaws.
As with all technical and industrial processes, there is constant innovation, which inevitably impacts on producers, suppliers and users of materials.
In a competitive market place, it is of commercial importance that businesses ensure they have good access to the latest information about such developments – or have an insight into new products being marketed by rivals and competitors.
Such knowledge will also enable companies to make informed decisions that could affect the future direction of their business or influence the way they market and develop new products in the future.
There are a number of journals and websites that offer the latest electroplating and powder coating information.
Among them is Metal Finishing magazine and website, which is respected as a forum to help keep industry professionals in touch with what is happening in their sector. It also contains news items, in-depth features, innovation and technological and commercial breakthroughs that could prove to be advantageous to what a company or organisation is doing, or planning to do, in the sector.
In terms of innovation within the sector, one organisation has developed a method for electroplating titanium alloys in the form of a coating on plastic and carbon foams. There was a time that this process that was actually considered impossible.
Other developments in the finishing sector have seen the increased use of robots in the way that they are now being used more and more in a wide range of manufacturing processes.
There are now robots that have been designed specifically for painting and they are helping manufacturers achieve greater productivity and become more efficient as well as offering higher repeatability and making savings in daily powder coating operations.
With robot technologies having moved on significantly in recent years, there are now models that have been designed for specific tasks such as powder painting. They are smaller, more cost effective and more precise with advanced part identification and controls that communicate between the powder application equipment and the robot.
It is well documented that the present global trading climate is proving difficult for manufacturers. In the current economic climate, where many manufacturers are having to work harder to maintain market share and keep their order books full, processes that help cut costs and help boost efficiency are critical to the long-term survival of a number of companies.