Steel alloys have become the go-to metals for countless applications, from construction to jewelry and everything in between.
Steel mills coat coils by running them continuously through, literally, a bath of hot liquid zinc. This process, called galvanization, gives the steel a unique look, and more importantly, it extends the steel’s lifetime by providing excellent corrosion resistance. You can find galvanized steel in cars, buildings, appliances, HVAC systems, and much more.
In the world of flat roll steel, galvanized remains a top choice for corrosion protection, price, availability, and versatility. Galvanized steel is steel that has been applied with a protective zinc coating, which inhibits oxidation, rusting, and corrosion.
At Pacesetter, we offer many galvanized steel products, including:
Pacesetter is a trusted national steel service center and supplier and processor of galvanized steel. We provide or can provide comprehensive finishing services to meet your project requirements, including slitting, cut-to-length and blanking, perforating, embossing, and painting. We offer complete steel products and steel processing services to meet your exact project requirements. Learn everything you need to know about this type of steel, and give us a call or fill out a contact form for a quote!
Galvanized steel is a steel alloy that has been coated in zinc to protect the underlying metal from corrosive elements. There are many ways to galvanize steel, including:
Galvanized steel can have a spangle pattern (think old-school steel garbage cans), or the appearance can be ordered as temper passed or extra smooth, which smooths away the spangle appearance.
In 1742 the French chemist Melouin submitted a treatise to the French Royal Academy explaining how a zinc coating could be applied to iron, and it drew interest. Its first application was for kitchen utensils.
In 1780 an Italian, Luigi Galvani, discovered that electrical shock could be created with the contact of two different metals, setting the stage for the “electrogalv” process, and ultimately “galvanizing” was derived from his name.
One of the underrated scientific greats, Michael Faraday of England, discovered and wrote on metal alloys, magnetism, and electricity in the early 1800s, which contributed significantly to industrialized galvanization processes.
In 1837, Stanislas Sorel filed a patent in France to protect the iron from rust in larger batches, using a zinc bath – the precursor to the modern zinc bath on Galv lines. By 1850, British industry was consuming 10,000 tons of zinc per year for iron and steel coating.
Because of its protective nature, the zinc coating of galvanized metal will prevent paint from adhering correctly. The zinc coating will need to be removed to get paint to stick to galvanized metal, making the steel susceptible to rust and corrosion.
Manufacturers must prime galvanized steel before being painted. For any galvanized steel projects that require painting, ask about bonderized galvanized steel.
Suppliers can weld galvanized steel, but they must follow the proper safety measures. They should remove the zinc first before welding the surface. Welding zinc creates zinc oxide, a gas that isn’t safe for inhaling. Once the weld is complete, the weld must be re-galvanized with zinc to maintain the corrosive-resistant nature of the galvanized metal.
The galvanization process, which coats steel in a layer of zinc, prevents the underlying metal from rusting. Is galvanized steel rustproof? As long as the zinc coating remains undamaged, the rustproof nature of galvanized steel can last for decades.
There are four ways to galvanize steel or coat it in a layer of zinc. Hot-dip galvanizing is the process of dipping finished steel into molten zinc. Galvannealing follows the hot-dipped process by heating the galvanized steel until the zinc coating and the steel alloy together. Pre-galvanizing is hot-dip galvanizing that takes place earlier in the steel production process. Electrogalvanizing uses electrical currents to bond zinc to steel.
Galvanized steel can last for decades without showing signs of rust or corrosion. Of course, different applications and environments will yield different lifespans for galvanized steel. In saltwater conditions, galvanized steel can perform for up to 12 years without showing signs of corrosion. In corrosive soil, it can last up to 50 years. And in ideal conditions, galvanized steel can resist rust for over 75 years.
Under normal conditions, galvanized steel is perfectly safe to come into contact with or even have contact with food. However, acidic foods should be kept away from galvanized steel because they can damage the zinc coating and expose the metal underneath. Like welding, extreme heat can also compromise the zinc creating zinc oxide, which is toxic to inhale.
Galvanized steel can be soldered together, but it’s advised to use rivets or a lock-seam to prevent failure to reinforce the connection. Like any soldering project, proper preparation is essential, and all standard safety precautions should be followed.
Yes, most galvanized steel is magnetic because the steel base metal is magnetic.
Yes, you can weld galvanized steel, but it takes extra prep work to keep the process safe for the welder and maintain the corrosive-resistant nature of the galvanized steel. Any surface welded should have the zinc removed first. Welding zinc creates zinc oxide, a gas that isn’t safe for inhaling. Once the weld is complete, the weld must be pre-galvanized with zinc to maintain the corrosive-resistant nature of the galvanized metal.
Galvanized metal should not be used for fire pits or in the circumstances with excessively high heat. This is due to the zinc coating on the base metal. High temperatures can give off zinc oxide, which is toxic when inhaled.
Today, galvanized steel has an enormous array of usages. You encounter it in some way, shape, or form every day. It’s used in construction products, HVAC systems, roofing, automotive, agriculture, power transmission, hardware, piping, and much more.
Why galvanized and not cheaper uncoated steel or other coatings or materials?
Pacesetter is a recognized leader in the service center sector in the purchasing, processing, efficiency, and quality aspects of galvanized steel. If you need galvanized steel manufactured and processed for your next project, contact us below to coordinate with one of our experts. We have service centers in Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston, and our headquarters is located in Kennesaw, Georgia. We can discuss your project needs and provide you with the galvanized steel you need at the best price.
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