Formation of the galvanized coating on the steel surface is a metallurgical reaction, where the zinc and steel combine to form a series of hard intermetallic layers.
The gamma, delta and zeta alloy layers are all harder than the base steel they are metallurgically bonded to, which gives hot dip galvanizing significant abrasion-resistance. Unlike paint coatings, the galvanizing process naturally produces coatings on the corners and edges of the dipped item, which are at least as thick as the rest of the coating.
It specifies the requirements of the coating and includes information on coating mass and thickness, appearance and freedom from defects, as well as suitable repair methods.
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Inspecting galvanized steel is a simple process. Zinc will not adhere to or react with unclean steel, therefore a visual inspection of the product effectively provides an assessment of the coating quality. Thickness is usually tested using a magnetic thickness gauge.
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The GAA recommends a hot dip galvanized coating as it uniquely provides three types of steel protection. Firstly, the galvanized coating completely covers all steel surfaces, acting as a barrier protecting the material from the surrounding environment.
Secondly, the galvanized coating cathodically protects the steel from coating imperfections caused by accidental abrasion, cutting, drilling or bending. Finally, the zinc patina develops over time, is insoluble and passive, which slows the corrosion rate of the zinc. Hot dip galvanizing has proven to be more durable and predictable than all other steel protective coatings in the Australian atmosphere. Its excellent performance is due to its inherent corrosion-resistance, high-tolerance to mechanical damage and inertness to the high UV levels throughout Australia.
Hot dip galvanizing has a low initial cost and is nearly always the cheapest long-term solution for corrosion protection of steel. The GAA has a micro-site, where users to calculate the initial and total life costs of more than 30 other corrosion protection systems against hot dip galvanized steel.
Based on the information the user provides, the Life-Cycle Cost Calculator will generate a customised report detailing all estimated costs associated with maintaining the structure over the desired project service life, including the time value of money. Painting of hot dip galvanized steel is sometimes required for decorative purposes, to provide an identifying colour or enhance the service life of the article.
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Some of these are less obvious than others. The overall economic cost of corrosion has been studied in several countries. Several studies have demonstrated the high economic and environmental costs associated with the repeated maintenance painting of steel structures. These burdens can be significantly reduced by an initial investment in long-term protection.
Hot-dip galvanizing of steel structures
Lack of attention to optimal corrosion protection can leave a damaging economic legacy of repeated maintenance costs. In social housing projects, future maintenance costs will be borne by the local authorities. Hot-dip galvanizing provides a number of benefits to the steel it protects. The metallurgically-bonded zinc-iron alloy layers not only create a barrier between the steel and the environment, but also cathodically protect the steel.
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The cathodic protection offered by zinc means the galvanized coating sacrifices itself to protect the underlying base steel from corrosion. In addition to the cathodic protection offered by hot-dip galvanizing, there are a few other characteristics of the coating which provide longevity. First, reaction in the galvanizing kettle is a diffusion process, which means the coating grows perpendicular to the surface, ensuring all corners and edges have at least equal thickness to flat surfaces.
Hot-dip galvanizing for buildings and architecture - Construction Specifier
Furthermore, the complete immersion in the zinc bath provides total coverage of the steel, including the interior of hollow structures. Finally, the zinc coating naturally develops an impervious layer of corrosion products on the surface, know as the zinc patina. The patina, cathodic protection, complete coverage and all of these other features, provide hot-dip galvanized steel with a long, maintenance-free service life.