Industrial finishing includes a variety of processes used to enhance the aesthetic or functional properties of a manufactured product. Compared to other types of finishing, industrial processes generally rely on advanced equipment, technologies, or materials to help these products stand up against heavy use or abuse. Industrial finishing can be used to alter many materials, including metal and wood. It is also used on thermoplastics and composite materials. As part of the finishing process, manufacturers add, remove, or modify materials to give the product the desired properties.
Prior to the industrial finishing process, workers must first manufacture the product out of raw materials. This may include carving an object out of wood or machining metal on a lathe or milling machine. It may also involve molding or extruding melted plastics to give them the desired shape. Once objects have been fully formed, industrial finishing is used to prepare them for sale, or to customize the object based on the needs of different buyers.
The simplest form of industrial finishing involves altering the physical appearance of the object by adding or removing materials. For metal, this may be as simple as deburring the edges of a cast object to remove splinters or chips. It also includes adding texture using stamping or embossing machines, such as those used to give metal a knurled finish. Finishing may also involve sanding or grinding away excess material to create a smooth surface on an object, or to give the object a polished appearance. For example, metal finishing often includes multiple sanding procedures, which can give the metal a satin or mirror-like finish.
Other industrial finishing processes involve adding protective coatings to the exterior of an object. This includes painting or staining wood, metal, and other materials. It may also involve adding a ceramic glaze to an object, or simply creating a clear UV-resistant coating. Other specialized finishes, such as powder coating of metal may be included in this category.
More advanced finishing typically involves altering the physical characteristics of the object to give it enhanced strength or other features. This includes case hardening or annodizing metal to enhance its strength and durability. It may also refer to plating procedures, such as electroplating, where permanent metal coatings are added to an object. This process also involves processes aimed at improving corrosion resistance, including galvanization and chemical treatments. These process not only allows the product to withstand moisture and corrosion, but may also enhance its thermal or conducting properties.