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A-Coating vs E-Coating: What’s the Difference?

A-coating and E-coating are two industrial metal coating technologies used to apply a rust and corrosion-proof coating to metal parts. Both are dip-coating processes that see wide use in the automotive and heavy machinery industries as a means of coating large components.

 

 

Despite these similarities, there are important differences to consider when selecting the correct industrial metal coating process.

 

What is A-Coating?

A-coating is a colloquial term for coating with Aquence, a Henkel® specialty coating product. Aquence was previously marketed as Autophoretic coating.

 

Aquence or A-coating is a waterborne poly coating that bonds to iron on contact. When a part made of ferrous material is dipped in a tank of liquid Aquence, the product bonds to the part with a chemical reaction. Next, manufacturers place the part in an oven to cure the coating.

 

A-coating has gained recognition in the automotive and heavy industrial manufacturing industries as a reliable metal coating technology. It has unlimited throwing power, and excellent corrosion and scratch resistance.

 

Aquence is also environmentally sustainable, containing no heavy metals and very few volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Any wastewater resulting from the A-coating process can be treated and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.

 

There are two types of Aquence coating available:

Aquence 866 leaves a matte-like finish and cures at low temperature, enabling manufacturers to coat full assemblies without affecting plastic or rubber bushings.
Aquence 930 is an epoxy acrylic coating with a semi-gloss appearance, ideal as Class B finish or primer coat.

Plastico is the only industrial metal coating company in Canada to offer A-coating in both Aquence 866 and Aquence 930 coatings.

 

What is E-Coating?

E-coating refers to electrophoretic painting or electrocoating, a metal coating technology developed to apply anti-corrosive coating.

 

The e-coating process involves immersing the part in a series of dip tanks, first to pre-treat and apply zinc phosphate and then to coat, clean, rinse, and condition it. When the part is dipped into the coating materials, the manufacturer activates an electrical current that passes through the tank using the part as an electrode. This electrical activity causes a layer of resin to adhere to the part, coating all surfaces exposed to the substance.

 

As with A-coating, a part coated with E-coating must be cured after application.

It is possible to control the thickness of the coating by adjusting the electrical current to the tank. A higher voltage will result in a thicker coating.

 

Differences Between A-Coating and E-Coating

While these metal coating technologies sound similar, the differences between A-coating and E-coating are significant.

 

A-coating bonds to metal using a chemical reaction, while E-coating bonds through the application of an electrical current.
A-coating equipment requires fewer dip stations and has a much smaller footprint than E-coating equipment. E-coating involves a lengthy pre-treatment process with multiple washing, cleaning, rinsing and conditioning stations.
Since it uses less equipment, the A-coating process consumes significantly less energy than E-coating.

While durable, E-coating is vulnerable to UV rays. A-coating is a durable poly coating that withstands UV.

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5 Ways to Prevent Corrosion of Metal Parts

prevent corrosion metal parts

 

No metal is completely safe from the threat of corrosion. But it is possible to slow, manage, or stop corrosion before it causes a problem.

 

There are practical ways to prevent corrosion in metal parts. Engineers can incorporate corrosion control into the design process. Manufacturers can apply protective corrosion barriers. Finally, the people who use the part can take preventative steps to prolong its life.

 

What is Corrosion?

 

Corrosion occurs when a metal reacts with an oxidizing agent in its environment. This chemical reaction can cause the metal to degrade over time, tarnishing its appearance and compromising its structural integrity.

 

Each type of metal has different electrochemical properties. These properties determine the types of corrosion the part is vulnerable to. For example, iron tools are prone to rust from long-term exposure to moisture, while a copper roof will tarnish under the effects of the weather. While some metals stand up to corrosion better than others (depending on the environment), none are free from every type of corrosion.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to prevent corrosion of metal parts. With so many types of metal and thousands of possible applications, manufacturers must use various methods to prevent and control corrosion in different metals.

 

Ways to Prevent Corrosion of Metal Parts

 

Preventing corrosion in metal parts takes consideration at all stages in the process, from design and manufacturing to finishing and maintenance.

 

1. Design

Corrosion control begins at the engineering stage. If the part is for use in an environment where it is susceptible to corrosion, manufacturers should design the part with that in mind.

 

For example, parts exposed to the elements should allow water and debris to drain off instead of collecting on the surface. To reduce crevice corrosion, designers should eliminate narrow gaps that allow air or fluid to enter and become stagnant. For corrosive environments, such as in saltwater, it may be wise to engineer for a degree of corrosion allowance.

 

2. Protective Coating

Coatings can provide a layer of protection against corrosion by acting as a physical barrier between the metal parts and oxidizing elements in the environment. One common method is galvanization, in which manufacturers coat the part with a thin layer of zinc.

 

Powder coatings are another effective way to prevent corrosion in metal parts. With proper application, a powder coating can seal the surface of the part away from the environment to guard against corrosion.

 

3. Environmental Control

Many environmental factors impact the likelihood of corrosion. It helps to keep metal parts in a clean, dry place when not in use. If you intend to store them for a long time, consider using methods to control the level of sulfur, chloride, or oxygen in the surrounding environment.

 

Galvanic corrosion occurs when metal parts with two different electrode potentials are in contact along with an electrolyte like saltwater. This causes the metal with higher electrode activity to corrode at the point of contact. One can prevent galvanic corrosion by storing these parts separately. This effect can also work as an anti-corrosion measure, as explained below.

 

4. Cathodic Protection

It is possible to prevent corrosion by applying an opposing electrical current to the metal’s surface. One method of cathodic protection is an impressed current, using an outside course of electrical current to overpower a corrosive current in the part.

 

A less-complex method of cathodic corrosion protection is the use of a sacrificial anode. This involves attaching a small, reactive metal to the part you wish to protect. Metal ions will flow from the reactive metal to the less active part, reducing corrosion at the expense of the smaller piece.

 

5. Maintenance

Protective coatings, environmental control, and cathodic protection are effective ways of preventing corrosion in metal parts. However, these measures are nothing without ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Coatings can wear over time; even small nicks and scratches can lead to corrosion. Be sure to keep parts clean and apply additional protection as necessary.

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Tim Keane
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July 17, 2018
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