Tips Texturizing Metal
Steel coil strip processing lines that offer texturizing services move their product up the value chain and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Any time a steel strip processing facility can differentiate itself through additional capabilities versus competitors, the company will tend to increase profit margin without increasing the production burden.
For this reason alone it is important to understand the options for texturizing metal coil forms. There are a number of different options and they are improving yearly, but two of the methods predominate. Laser surface texturing and embossing with the rotary method are two of the more important techniques for texturizing metal in coil form.
Laser Surfaces for Steel Coil Strip Metal Processing Lines
Laser surface operations on cold-rolled strip steel for texturing and modifying the surface have been around for a number of years. The process of preparing a cold-rolled strip steel surface involves a number of steps that could include grinding, blasting, laser burning and electro discharge texturing (EDT).
For cosmetically appealing surfaces, (if there is a functional need for a nearly frictionless or smooth surface), ground rolls will generally be the best option. Using electro discharge texturing and roll blasting produces a duller texture or a matte texture with similar features for each process.
The laser texturing process uses controlled melting of the strip coil surface with a high-powered laser beam in order to induce the texture desired on the metal.
As with most laser operations throughout industry, the variability for the process will not come from the laser itself (so long as the power supply and the optics of the laser are well-controlled), but rather the atmospheric conditions and the material conditions will be the only variables in the overall function of the laser texturing process.
Advantages of Laser Texturing vs. Embossing
One of the key advantages of laser texturing is that it provides dimensionally specific patterns rather than patterns across the entire width of the coil, or at specific points along the coil (this point can be varied). The laser can go anywhere at any point on the coil depending on the capability of the machine doing the texturing.
The texturized finished comes from the localized melting of the surface and a gas jet forcing an indentation (or a crater) onto the role surface. This is then surrounded by the edge of the crater or the rim.
The manufacturers vary how they control the laser from turning it on and off to using mechanical or optical systems that start and stop the laser in a match sequence to the coil velocity. The net effect is to create a texture with a repeatable pattern with tolerances in the thousands of an inch.
Some systems use what is known as a chopper disk for turning the laser on and off with precise mechanical slots at the periphery that trigger the laser.
With an engine lathe turning the coil, imprinting can run from 40,000 craters per second to even higher rates with the latest equipment. The finished coil roll will contain millions of these precisely located craters and rims.
Types of Steel Coil Texturing Finishes
This operation produces a mirror image for the strip with a precise pattern of circle high points with valleys between. Blasted or EDT finishes give a needle surface topography. For the steel strip coil processing facility that wants a smoother, almost mirror-like finish, laser texturing is far superior to the other processes.
One of the main benefits of using laser texturing is that it imparts a lubricated quality to the metal as it goes through the process on a coil line. The benefits of this include reduced galling or scoring, easier metal movement through the die, and producing strains that may result in a breakage.
This is extremely important for stainless steel so that you can use type 304 instead of type 305 grade stainless. Potentially you could even reduce the need for lubricants across the entire process, including expensive metal lubricants like tin or copper plating.
There is a lot more to say about laser texturing but there is another important method to discuss called rotary embossing. Rotary embossing is a three-dimensional texturizing method.
The embossing machine is generally going to be located immediately after the uncoiler and will feed recoiling, sheeting, cut to length, roll foreign forming, stamping or any number of different operations required for a coil processing line.
Embossed metal is for either functional reasons or aesthetic reasons. The aesthetic appeal of the embossing can greatly enhance the appearance of a product and, of course, this will often lead to higher value for the product.
The appliance industry is one of the significant users of embossed coiled metal products. The embossing goes a long way towards eliminating the appearance of fingerprints and other surface discontinuities.
One of the more popular forms of embossing is the leather appearing surface that can be so minor it's difficult to see it, but nonetheless it serves the purpose of preserving the appearance of the appliance. Other applications include garage doors, a lot of building products, automotive trim in some cases, and elevator panels. Embossing can be thought of like rapid tool formed engraving.
Scuff proof grains, leather grains, and even wood grain on almost any surface add a variety of positive features. New patterns are difficult and time-consuming to create unless a skilled processing facility handles the work.
The major parameters for creating successfully embossed metal surface include determining the wedge, the pressure and speed set points so that the embosser produces a uniform product.
Among the many texturing processes for coils, laser and embossing are two of the most important for any operation that wishes to add value to their coil slitting and processing line.To return from this Tips texturizing Metal page to the Strip Metal Coil Processing Home page, click here.
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