Corrosion is the worst enemy of metal, and its most common form is rust. Corrosion deteriorates metal due to environmental interaction and has various negative effects on it. Metal corrosion is a natural phenomenon that combines three factors- moisture, a metallic surface, and an oxidizing agent known as an electron acceptor.
What is Corrosion?
Corrosion is caused by a chemical reaction from the surrounding environment. Rusting is the most common form due to a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen, known as oxidization. Metal corrodes due to various factors, like exposure to moisture, wind, and electrical currents. Different types of metal have different electrochemical properties, which determine the corrosion types they are vulnerable to. For instance, iron is vulnerable to rust from moisture, while copper degrades due to the weather’s effects.
Every metal is susceptible to corrosion; however, it is possible to slow down, manage, or stop it. To prevent corrosion in metal parts, engineers should adopt a corrosion control method during the design process, while manufacturers must apply protective corrosion barriers. On the part of users, it is necessary to take preventative steps to extend metal parts’ lives.
This means it is important to take preventive measures at every stage: designing, manufacturing, finishing, and maintenance. There are many ways to prevent corrosion, and below, we’ve compiled some common and helpful ways to prevent it.
Tips to Prevent Corrosion of Metal Parts
- Design Modification
The first step to control corrosion is to be taken at the initial stage of design engineering. The part must be designed in a way to reduce corrosion and improve durability. To prevent the part from deterioration in the future, it must be designed to avoid trapping dust and water and eliminating open gaps.
- Protective Coating
Applying a protective coating is a cost-effective way to increase the longevity of metal parts. This is because the coat acts as a layer of protection and stands as a physical barrier between the metal parts and oxidizing elements in the environment.
The most common practice adopted by manufacturers to guard against corrosion is galvanization. It is a process of coating the metal part with a thin layer of zinc. Another way is powder coatings, which can seal the surface of the part to protect against corrosion.
- Cathodic Protection
Cathodic protection protects against galvanic corrosion and is commonly used for steel pipelines, water heater tanks, or ship hulls. It involves using an outside course of electrical current to overpower a corrosive current in part. Another way of cathodic corrosion protection is using a sacrificial anode by connecting a small, reactive metal to the intended metal part.
- Environmental Measures
Corrosion is the result of many environmental factors. This means certain measures must be taken to control the environmental impact and the unwanted reactions. These include simple steps like minimum exposure to rain or seawater. There are some complex measures, like controlling the amounts of sulfur, chlorine, or oxygen in the surrounding environment. When the object/part is not in use, could you keep it in a clean and dry place?
These are few measures to be taken by the engineers and manufacturers; however, these measures are nothing without ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Therefore, proper maintenance is crucial on the part of users to prevent metal from corrosion. Metal corrosion leads to a severe decline in metal products’ functionality and aesthetics, making them unsafe to use.