According to the World Corrosion Organization, the annual cost of corrosion worldwide is approx. $2.2 trillion. Today, it is usually accepted that corrosion and pollution are interrelated harmful processes as many pollutants accelerate corrosion and corrosion by-products such as rust can pollute water bodies. 

Let’s discuss what corrosion is, why choosing the correct coating is important in the manufacturing process and how polyurethane can help solve this problem for you.


What is Corrosion & Its Effect on Production?

Corrosion happens when material reacts to its environment. There are three necessities for corrosion to begin: a protected metal, a corroded metal, and a medium that conducts a current between the two metals. 

The most common form of corrosion is rust or iron oxide. For example, if you have a steel pipe and galvanized fittings, the steel might corrode, but the galvanized parts will not. When steel is cut, the cuts will rust before the rest of the steel. 

Manufacturers need to understand what elements increase the likelihood that corrosion will happen. Water, especially saltwater, will quickly corrode steel. Manufacturers near saltwater or that use saltwater in production have to pay close attention to their metal systems, as corrosion seems to happen in the blink of an eye. 

Manufacturers in industrial districts should notice the smoke and fumes in the region. These can contain acids, alkalies, and other corrosive chemicals. It might not be expected, but corrosion can happen quickly when atmospheric and environmental conditions include excessive smoke from other manufacturers. 

It is also essential to consider any systems that are buried in the ground. The soil can quickly corrode metals like pipes and other steel systems. Soils can conduct electricity, which can severely corrode metal. 

Understanding, recognizing, and preventing corrosion is important for industrial facilities, especially when they use metals. Industrial facilities need to take precautions to minimize corrosion in their systems. 

Without corrosion control, facilities will likely struggle with the repercussions from corrosion. Preventing corrosion is not free, but it is less costly than fixing or replacing damaged systems when it’s too late. 

Without preventative steps, facilities can have damage or complete loss of structures. They can also have increased maintenance costs from continually fighting fires. Businesses can lose revenue if corrosion causes long-term problems like leaks or fires. 

Because of this, it’s important to consider a more proactive approach to corrosion. 


Why Are Coatings So Important?

Metal needs to be properly coated to prevent corrosion. Without coatings, small parts can damage larger parts. Consider the valves, pumps, switches, belts, and mechanical equipment. If any part becomes corroded, a larger system can be damaged. 

Urethane coatings are highly reliable, so manufacturers regularly choose them. They offer an affordable way to prevent scratches and abrasions. Some coatings are impact-resistant. Many also protect against environmental damage from UV rays and extreme weather conditions.polyurethane to protect product

Coating metals can reduce costs. Without coatings, costs can increase by up to 25% as they need regular repair and maintenance. With coatings, less maintenance is needed. 

Adding coatings to systems can also reduce workplace accidents. Approximately $250 billion is spent on work-related accidents with a large percentage of those caused by damaged equipment. If corrosion is properly managed, work-related accidents decrease. 

When equipment is coated, it is less likely to have damage due to corrosion. When equipment corrodes, time has to be taken to fix it. 

As we all know in business, time is money. When machinery needs to be repaired, it is not working for the business. Instead, production stops, and revenue decreases due to this unexpected downtime. 


How Does Polyurethane Help Prevent Corrosion?

Stated by urethane manufacturers, polyurethane is commonly used as a protective coating for industrial metal. It is known for its strong adhesive qualities that can resist moisture and impact. Polyurethane coatings have also shown to be resistant to many chemicals, too. 

Polyurethane coatings differ from other coatings, like epoxy, for example. Polyurethane coatings are flexible and resist cracking, unlike epoxy coatings. Epoxy resists wear, movement, and impact. Epoxy and other coatings do not withstand low temperatures, but polyurethane works in most temperatures, even extreme ones. 

Epoxy acrylic coatings are limited in what they can do. But polyurethane coatings can be customized to meet the needs of different systems. They can meet the flexibility and harness needs of most metal systems. 

Polyurethane comes in a wide range of options for consumers and manufacturers. Some are rigid and elastomeric for industrial use, while others come as foams or paints for commercial use. Rigid polyurethane coatings are hard and dense to resist chemicals and corrosion. Elastomeric coatings have a stretchy quality to offer flexibility and impact-resistance. 

These coatings are often used in systems that people do not expect, like municipal water systems. The latest developments include antimicrobial fortification for water systems to add an extra layer of protection against bacteria from sewage. 

preventing corrosion with polyurethane

How Are Polyurethane Coatings Applied?

Coatings can be applied in a few different methods. Each method has pros and cons. 

One of the least expensive methods is to apply coatings as barriers. The coating is applied to the surface of the metal with heat. This creates a thin film. Others are applied like paint, using a sprayer. These are easy to apply, but they often need to be reapplied if the coating comes off. 

Polyurethane coatings can be applied quickly, with little disruption to production. They also cure quickly, but usually need catalysts. Some cure with moisture, which is ideal for industries in humid locations. Most polyurethane coatings used in manufacturing need to be applied by licensed technicians. 

In some industries:

Polyurethanes are applied in the manufacturing process. For example, they are applied directly to parts in the automotive industry, right in the factory. 

Many direct-to-metal rigid polyurethanes are also directly applied to building panels, architectural trim, and steel storage tanks as they are being assembled on site. The flexibility of polyurethane is what makes it such a desirable product for manufacturers in a range of industries. 

As you can see, polyurethane has many uses, and one of these is as a coating to prevent metal corrosion in the manufacturing process. It is truly a versatile and hard-wearing material that will help you save money by preventing the costly effects of corrosion.