As a vertical manufacturer, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS) has an extensive history of designing and building exceptional paint booths and finishing equipment that help businesses achieve flawless paint finishes. Celebrated on the first Wednesday of March each year, National Surface Finishing Day is a day to showcase the finishing industry and bring awareness to its impact on our economy and the products that we use every day. So, why is the finishing industry so important that it needs a national holiday?
Importance of Finishes
Surface finishes not only make products look presentable and unique, but they also play an important role in ensuring products perform as they are intended to perform and last longer. Finishes provide protection from outside elements, corrosion, wear and rust. For example, think about your car. If the paint scratches off, rust will likely present itself on the exposed steel or aluminum panel over time, if not treated properly. The paint serves as a protective layer for the substrate beneath.
Certain types of finishes, such as aerospace coatings, can also greatly affect the performance of the product itself. These specialized performance coatings protect the aircraft from weather resistance and sun damage — ensuring its safety in the sky. In the case of low-observable or stealth technology, the coating allows military aircraft, ground vehicles, ships and missiles to be less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection methods.
It also goes without saying that quality and customer satisfaction are very important when considering your final finish. In some high-end industries — such as yachts and custom vehicles — appearance is much more important than in a typical metal fabrication shop. Even the tiniest imperfection of a show vehicle can affect one’s perception of the level of finesse in the finish and the value of the product underneath.
Types of Finishes
When it comes to the types of finishing, we often think of liquid paint and coatings. However, powder coating continues to be used more often across a wide variety of industries and products — including appliances, automobile parts, furniture and water bottles. Less common, plating is another metal finishing option.
Since the introduction of the spray gun in the 1920s, the primary means of applying liquid coatings on products, parts and vehicles is with a liquid spray gun and compressed air system. Before that, products were painted by hand with a brush.
Liquid paint can be used throughout the production process for industrial manufacturers and metal fabrication businesses, to the more widely known use of refinishing cars, trucks and airplanes. Liquid coatings can also be used for finishing woodworking projects with paints, stains and varnishes on wooden parts and products, such as cabinets, doors and windows.
Powder coating is also typically applied with a spray gun, however, the method in which powder coating adheres to the substrate is very different from liquid coating. The coating is usually applied electrostatically and cured with heat. As opposed to liquid coating, powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The process of powder coating tends to be cleaner than liquid paint, and the finish is more durable.
Coating a range of products — from laser eye surgery equipment and 3D printers to rims and race car chassis — powder coatings can be applied to just about anything for a high-quality, durable finish.
Plating is a surface covering in which a metal is deposited on a conductive surface. This process can also be performed in a paint booth.
For example, a university in Wisconsin uses a GFS Bench Booth to spray paints and solvents, mainly with garden-variety spray paint and occasionally an acrylic paint that resembles a floor wax. The coated plates are then etched, as the paint gives the plates a speckled effect. They also use lithography — a printing process using a metal plate on which the image areas are worked with a greasy substance so the ink adheres to them, while the non-image areas are made ink-repellent.
Types of Products That Are Finished
From beginning to end, GFS knows the importance of a quality finish. Many of the components of our products — including I-beams and white pre-coated panels — are finished with a protective coating. In addition to protecting the steel, white pre-coated panels provide optimal brightness for a better finishing environment.
A few of the most common items that receive finishes are cars, trucks, boats, planes, parts and furniture. Some less common items that you may not think about include anything from football helmets to amusement park rides. Even theater props and signage can be coated in a GFS paint booth or powder coating booth.
It doesn’t take a national holiday like Surface Finishing Day for GFS to celebrate the types of finishes we support — internally and externally — but it sure does give us a good reason to.