PHOSPHATE COATING is the treatment of iron, steel, galvanized steel, or aluminum with a dilute solution of phosphoric acid and other chemicals in which the surface of the metal, reacting chemically with the phosphoric acid media, is converted to an integral, mildly protective layer of insoluble crystalline phosphate. The weight and crystalline structure of the coating and the extent of penetration of the coating into the base metal can be controlled by:

• Method of cleaning before treatment

• Use of activating rinses containing titanium and other metals or compounds

• Method of applying the solution

• Temperature, concentration, and duration of treatment

• Modification of the chemical composition of phosphating solution

The method of applying phosphate coatings is usually determined by the size and shape of the article to be coated. Small items, such as nuts, bolts, screws, and stampings, are coated in tumbling barrels immersed in phosphating solution. Large fabricated articles, such as refrigerator cabinets, are spray coated with solution while on conveyors. Automobile bodies are sprayed with or immersed in phosphating solution. Steel sheet and strip can be passed continuously through the phosphating solution or can be sprayed.

Phosphate coatings range in thickness from less than 3 to 50 pm (0.1 to 2 mil). Coating weight (grams per square meter of coated area), rather than coating thickness, has been adopted as the basis for expressing the amount of coating deposited.

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