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Metal Finish Solutions: Aerodynamics Coating And Why It Is Essential

by | Feb 20, 2023

The largest expense when estimating the total cost of operating an aircraft is fuel. Fuel represents a larger share of overall costs as it gets more expensive. 

Increased fuel efficiency is something that all aviation operators, including those in the airline, corporate, and general aviation sectors, are constantly asking for, and the related industry, including aircraft manufacturers, is responding with better designs and new products. 

These products include a variety of surface coatings designed to reduce aircraft aerodynamic drag. 

In this article, we will discuss how metal finishing affects aerodynamics, why it is essential, the different types of metal finishings available, and how to choose the best metal finishing process for your project.

If you need help, have an inquiry, or need a quote on your metal finishing project, you can reach out to us here, and we’d be happy to help. 

The laws of aerodynamics apply to airplanes. It is the study of forces acting on moving objects in the air and explains how air moves around them to produce the force of lift that enables planes to overcome the counterforce of gravity and drag – forces of resistance that act against the force of lift.

The forces involved in aerodynamics can be influenced by numerous factors. In the field of aviation, researchers are constantly trying to develop more aerodynamic, efficient aircraft. Investigating and improving how aircraft materials and their properties can impact air resistance is one area of research that has become a major focus of projects attempting to improve aircraft aerodynamic performance.

Plane Aerodynamics

Metal Finishing Provides Smoother Surfaces, Improving Aerodynamics Properties

Compared to materials with rough surfaces, smoother ones have better aerodynamic qualities. Therefore, low surface-roughness materials are used in the design of aircraft. However, over time, outside influences can alter the surface characteristics of a material. Surface roughness can be increased by elements like corrosion, erosion, and deposition that take place under high pressure and high-temperature conditions. Turbine blades are particularly harmed by this.

According to research, turbine blades with rougher surfaces are more likely to be found on aircraft that have been in service for a significant number of hours. The efficiency of the turbine is significantly impacted by the roughness, which data shows increases with the number of hours the aircraft has been in service.


Improving Aerodynamics Reduces Emissions

The reduction of fuel consumption that results from improving an aircraft’s aerodynamic performance is one of the main advantages. Awareness of how the aviation industry affects emissions and the environment has grown in recent years. As a result, there is more pressure on the industry to adopt measures to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

The reduction of fuel consumption that results from improving an aircraft’s aerodynamic performance is one of the main advantages. Awareness of how the aviation industry affects emissions and the environment has grown in recent years. As a result, there is more pressure on the industry to adopt measures to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.


What Is Metal Finishing?

Metal finishing is an all-encompassing term used to describe the process of placing some type of metal coating on the surface of a metallic part, typically referred to as a substrate. It might also entail carrying out a procedure for polishing, cleaning, or otherwise enhancing a surface. Electroplating, which is the process of depositing metal ions onto a substrate using an electric current, is a common component of metal finishing. In actuality, plating and metal finishing are sometimes used synonymously. However, there are many different processes used in the metal finishing industry, and each one has advantages for the user.

Plane Metal Finishing

What Is The Purpose Of Metal Finishing? 

A metal alloy can have weaknesses like rust and brittleness, even though it is a strong enough material on its own. How brittle a metal depends on its hardness, and how much it might rust depends on its composition. Iron becomes steel when combined with other metals, which is a metal finishing process that creates a much stronger metal than it was at first before the finish. The type of metal you use in the end depends on how important metal finishing is to you.


To Reduce Wear and Tear

The metal’s strength makes finishing one of the best reasons to do it. The surface of the strong, finished metal will be smoother and slicker, making it more resistant to friction and torque. This is crucial for engines, machinery, and other items with moving parts because they must function without finished metal components under extreme stress. Also, a reduction in wear and tear may mean reduced surface roughness and better aerodynamics. 


To Improve Electrical Conductivity

The metal is no longer as rough after it has undergone the finishing process. What was once an ore and then became an alloy has now been developed to the fullest extent and is a finished metal. The ability of certain metals to conduct electricity is increased when they have been properly machined and polished.

This is crucial for the wiring and cabling that people require for the electrical systems in their homes and workplaces. All of these metals have undergone finishing and processing to increase their conductivity, which they would not typically have in their natural states.


To Improve Resistance To Heat

Metal plating increases the heat resistance of products, particularly when using a silver-plating process, which has a very high heat threshold. Due to this benefit, metal finishing is a preferred option in the aviation and automobile industries, where exposure to high temperatures is inevitable.


To Improve Durability

Metal finishing makes metals stronger and harder, increasing the product’s endurance. For this reason, copper and chrome plating are frequently used in industrial settings on things like tools, hydraulic cylinders, and mechanical goods. This is crucial for the aerospace industry in particular because replacing aircraft parts after a failure in service can be expensive.


Benefits Of Metal Surface Coatings For Aviation

  • Increased paint life
  • Increased surface smoothness
  • Corrosion protection
  • Decreased adherence to dirt and other contaminants
  • Decreased drag and reduced fuel consumption


What Are The Processes Of Metal Finishing? 

There are many different kinds of metal finishing processes, and each one has special advantages. The requirements for the finished product as well as the metallic composition of the final product influence the method of metal processing and finishing that is selected. The various metal finishing techniques can be divided into two groups: adding/altering finishing and removing/reshaping finishing.

Metal Finishing Process

Worker wearing protective wear performing powder coating of metal details in a special industrial camera

Adding and Altering Metal Finishing Processes

To change the surface of a part or product, metal finishing techniques are added to or altered. In order to achieve desired properties and characteristics, such as improved durability, aesthetics, solderability, and chemical resistance, a layer of the desired material is added rather than the metal being removed or reshaped.

Although there are many ways to add to or change a part’s surface, electroplating, electroless plating, passivation, hot blackening, and powder coating are some of the most popular.



Electroplating, also referred to as electrodeposition, is a metal finishing process that involves the deposit of a metal or metal alloy onto the surface of a metal part or component, which is referred to as a substrate. In the process of electroplating, a substrate material—typically one that is lighter and less expensive—is enclosed in a thin layer of metal, such as copper or nickel. A single metal or a mix of metals can be electroplated onto an object by the manufacturer. Multiple layers of metal are frequently used by manufacturers to increase strength and conductivity.


Electroless Plating

Electroless plating, also known as chemical plating or auto-catalytic plating, is a metal processing technique that plates metal chemically rather than by electrical means. Using a reducing chemical bath to create a catalytic reduction of metal ions and plate the component without the use of electrical energy, the electroless plating process involves the deposition of metals such as nickel, silver, gold, and copper on the surface of a variety of materials.

Electroless plating, in contrast to electroplating, is a chemical process that doesn’t call for any additional equipment or electrical power.



Passivation is a chemical process that is typically used as a post-treatment plating process, primarily for stainless steel and other metal alloys like aluminum. It improves the treated surfaces’ ability to resist corrosion and lessens the impact of environmental factors like water or air. A heavy protective metal oxide coating is applied during the passivation process to sluggish the oxidation process, which usually does not change the material’s appearance.


Powder Coating

Powder coating is a metal finishing process that involves the application of a dry powder rather than a liquid to cover a metal product. To create the dry powder coating, a variety of ingredients are mixed together during the powder coating process, including pigments, curatives, flow modifiers, leveling agents, and other additives. The finished powder is produced, electrostatically deposited onto the substrate’s surface, and then heated to create long molecular chains and a high cross-link density.

While still offering an attractive finish, powder coatings are typically more durable than liquid paints. Metal products that have been powder coated are more resistant to coating quality degradation brought on by chemicals, moisture, ultraviolet light, and other harsh weather conditions.


Removing and Reshaping Metal Finishing Processes

By removing or reshaping the surface of a part or product, metal finishing techniques can be used to change the surface and achieve the desired finish. When the end user wants a polished, reshaped, abrasive, or aesthetically pleasing finished metal part or product, these metal finishing processes are used.

The surface of a part can be removed or reshaped using a variety of processes, but some of the most popular ones are electropolishing, buff polishing, and abrasive blasting.



In order to produce a smooth, shiny, and streamlined surface texture, electropolishing uses an electric current to remove metal ions from a metal component, typically stainless steel or similar alloys.


Abrasive Blasting

Abrasive blasting is a metal finishing process that uses high-pressure propulsion to forcibly propel a stream of abrasive material against the surface of a metal part. In order to save time and money, surface finishing and cleaning are combined using abrasive blasting. Prior to painting, coating, or plating, a surface can also be treated with abrasive blasting.

It is significant to note that there are various iterations of this process, each utilizing various abrasives. Shot blasting, which uses metal shot such as aluminum oxide or carbon grit, and sandblasting, which uses sand, are the two most popular abrasive blasting techniques.


How To Choose The Right Metal Finishing For Your Project 

Selecting the best metal finishing method is difficult because there are many things to take into account, such as the characteristics of the material, the rate of production, and the available budget, whether you’re a manufacturer with a tight schedule or a company operating on a tight budget.

Here are some things to think about and queries to ask when choosing a metal finishing process for your manufacturing project.


Material Properties

It is crucial to take into account the material’s defining properties, such as hardness, to ensure the best possible product performance. Abrasive blasting, for example, is a more intense metal finishing technique needed to provide a visible finish on stronger metal products and components.

Here are some additional material characteristics to take into account when selecting a metal finishing method.


Corrosion Resistance

a material’s ability to withstand harm from oxidation or other chemical reactions that would happen if it were exposed to a certain environment. Aluminum and stainless steel have high corrosion resistance, whereas carbon steel has lower corrosion resistance.



Defined as how easily a metal can be cut or shaped while still offering a desirable surface finish. Low-machinability materials require more power to cut and accelerate the deterioration of cutting tools, increasing the cost of the process. Good machinability materials can be cut more quickly and with less energy. Steel is moderately machinable, whereas stainless steel is difficult.



A material’s ductility, which denotes its malleability, refers to its capacity to be drawn or plastically deformed without weakening or breaking. For instance, the ductility of stainless steel is high, compared to the ductility of aluminum.



The ability of a material to weld with other materials of a similar composition without cracking or degrading is known as weldability. Steel is easily weldable, whereas stainless steel has a medium weldability.


Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is the load or amount of stress that a material can withstand before it stretches and fractures, and it is expressed in units of force per cross-sectional area. For successful structural engineering applications, a metal product’s ability to withstand failure under mechanical loads must be measured. While tungsten and stainless steel have high tensile strengths, aluminum and zinc have relatively low tensile strengths.


Speed of Production

Businesses and manufacturers must maintain supply chain productivity to meet customer demands and production needs. As a result, considering production time is essential when selecting a metal finishing type because some processes take longer than others. A manufacturer should think about using a quick metal finishing process if they need to maintain a quick turnaround time.

When examining the rate of production for the metal finishing, keep the following in mind:

  • Do you have deadlines for your manufacturing project?
  • How quickly do you need your product to be finished?
  • What is the processing cycle time for metal finishing?
  • Can the metal finishing method produce goods quickly enough to satisfy demand from customers?


Cost of Metal Finishing Process

The price of each metal finishing procedure varies. Some finishing techniques, like anodizing, are more expensive than others, but they make up for it with a number of benefits, including better quality and quicker results. It is crucial to assess the average cost of each finishing technique and to only choose a finishing option that is in line with financial constraints. To make an informed choice, be sure to ask the contract manufacturer many questions about the precise costs of each metal finishing process.

When examining the cost of a metal finishing method, keep the following in mind:

  • What is your budget for metal finishing?
  • How costly or affordable is the material?
  • Is the metal finishing method thought to be economically viable for your project?
  • Is there a different metal finishing technique that offers comparable outcomes at a different price?
  • Does the preparation and sophisticated welding equipment needed for the chosen metal finishing process raise the cost of the project?



The forces involved in aerodynamics can be influenced by numerous factors. In the field of aviation, researchers are constantly trying to develop more aerodynamic, efficient aircraft.

The right metal finishing process must be chosen carefully because there are many variables to consider, such as cost, production speed, and metal hardness. Therefore, manufacturers and companies should collaborate with skilled metal processing experts to create a personalized and economical metal finishing process that lowers operating costs, streamlines production, and produces improved finished metal products that surpass customer expectations. To get a quote on your next project, get in touch with us today, and we’ll discuss all of the surface finishing questions you may have.

Our expertise and processes make doing business easy.