by Frederike Berg
How does galvanisation of scaffolding parts work?
There are many ways to make your scaffolding particularly resistant to corrosion. One of the cheapest is painted scaffolding material. However, if you want to use your scaffolding material for as long as possible without high maintenance costs, we recommend scaffolding systems made of galvanised steel. Read more about the difference between painted and galvanised scaffolding in our blog. But what actually happens during the galvanisation process and what makes this type of corrosion protection so effective? Find out here.
What is galvanisation?
Scafom-rux scaffolding systems and scaffolding accessories are made of hot-dip galvanised black steel in our own factories. Hot-dip galvanization means that the steel is coated with a protective layer of zinc. This makes the steel particularly resistant to damage and environmental influences.
This is because the zinc provides both a material barrier to the steel and active corrosion protection. Here, the zinc acts as a so-called galvanic or sacrificial anode. The zinc layer ‘deflects’ from the steel, so to speak, and must first have been destroyed itself by corrosion before the steel can be affected. This anodic effect of the zinc also protects unzinc-plated cut edges or damaged areas from rust and weathering.
What does the galvanisation process look like?
For the protective layer of zinc, the scaffolding material has to go through several steps. The process looks like this: We have summarised them briefly for you here:
Step 1: The steel is cleaned
In order to get a high-quality end result, the steel must first be thoroughly cleaned of any impurities such as dirt or oil. To do this, it is dipped in a corrosive solution, rinsed and then pickled in an acidic solution to also remove mill scale and iron oxide.
Step 2: Further surface preparation by fluxing
After the material has been rinsed again after pickling, the final step of surface preparation follows: fluxing. Here, flux, a chemical cleaning agent such as zinc ammonium chloride, is applied to the material to remove any remaining oxides from the steel. Flux also forms a protective layer that protects the material from further oxidation during air contact before galvanising.
Step 3: The steel is dipped into the zinc bath
Now it's time for the actual step, the electroplating. And here it also becomes clear why the steel had to be cleaned so thoroughly beforehand. Because zinc does not react with steel that has even the smallest impurities on it. During galvanising, the steel is immersed in a bath of molten zinc. In the process, the iron content in the steel reacts with the zinc, forming a series of metallurgically bonded zinc-iron alloy layers and finally the outer layer of pure zinc.
Step 4: Final inspection of the galvanised material
After visual inspection and checking the thickness of the zinc layer with a magnetic thickness gauge, the galvanisation process is complete.
Not all galvanisation is the same. There can be big differences in quality. You'll soon find out how to recognise them in our blog. Stay tuned!
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