Aluminum surface treatment: The influence of zinc replacement fluids

Aluminum surface treatment: The influence of zinc replacement fluids

Sat Jun 08 09:45:04 CST 2024

In the plating industry, zinc replacement solutions are an important part of the pre-treatment of aluminum and its alloys. Aluminum, although widely used for its lightweight and high strength properties, must first overcome its naturally occurring oxide film and low surface activity when it comes to plating other metal layers on its surface. This is because the oxide layer significantly reduces the adhesion of the metal layer. The application of zinc replacement fluids is the key to enhancing this adhesion.

Zinc replacement solutions consist primarily of a zinc salt (e.g., zinc chloride), a base (usually sodium hydroxide), and some potential additives such as complexing agents and surfactants. Through a carefully designed chemical reaction, the solution forms a thin film of zinc on the surface of aluminum. This process, in effect, is a replacement reaction in which active zinc ions displace a portion of the aluminum surface, thus forming a layer of zinc on the aluminum surface.

The presence of this newly cast zinc film is critical to the plating process that follows. There are three reasons for this:

1. Provides a good adhesion substrate: Zinc forms strong chemical bonds with many plating metals, such as nickel, copper, chromium, etc., more easily than aluminum. Therefore, the zinc layer becomes an intermediate layer between the metal plating and the aluminum substrate, improving the bond between the metal plating and the aluminum substrate.

2. Increase surface roughness: The surface of the aluminum is roughened by the zinc replacement to a surface that is rougher than the original smooth aluminum surface. This slight increase in surface roughness provides more anchor points and further improves the mechanical adhesion of the coating.

3. Prevention of oxide layer regeneration: Since aluminum in the air is very easy to regenerate the oxide layer, but the existence of zincification layer can be isolated to a certain extent from the direct contact between aluminum and air, slowing down the oxidation process.

However, the quality of the zinc replacement layer is dependent on the control of factors such as the ratio of the zinc replacement solution, pH, temperature, and processing time. In the event of poor handling, the result can be holes in the coating, peeling and other poor bonding problems. Therefore, the use of Bigelow's Zinc Replacement Solution is required for aluminum plating for zinc deposition.

If you are interested in zinc replacement fluid, please feel free to contact us.