Introduction to finishing processes

Finishing processes aim to alter the surface of a manufactured part in order to achieve a particular characteristic. Commonly desired characteristics include improved aesthetics, adhesion, solderability, chemical-, corrosion-, tarnish- or wear-resistance, hardness, electrical conductivity, flaw removal, and surface friction control. In limited cases, these techniques may be applied to restore original dimensions or to salvage or repair a part.

There are two main categories of finishing processes and they largely depend on how they affect a workpiece. These processes are either removing/reshaping finishing or adding/altering finishing. The removing/reshaping processes serve mainly to alter the surface of a part to attain a desired finish by removing or reshaping it. For example, some users desire a more polished, reshaped, smoothed or abrasive surface, or an aesthetically enhanced exterior. A broad variety of processes are used, but among the most common are abrasive and sand blasting, laser ablation and engraving, polishing, and superfinishing.

Similarly, the adding/altering processes serve to alter the surface of a part, but rather than removing or reshaping it, a coat of a desired material is added to attain the desired properties that are otherwise missing. There are numerous possible processes to add/alter a part’s surface, but among the most common are anodizing, dyeing, electroplating, electroless plating, plating, powder coating, and spraying.

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