Steel is put through a process called “galvanizing” that keeps it from corroding. Very simply, it gets coated with zinc because that metal will not be subjected to rust. Because of that, galvanized steel is a major component that is used in thousands of industrial and marine products that are subject to corrosion.
In 1742, a chemist named P. J. Malouin first introduced the galvanizing process to the French Royal Academy. About 100 years later, another scientist, Stanislaus Sorel received a French patent for coating steel with zinc after bathing it in sulfuric acid and fluxing it with ammonium chloride. A similar British patent that was granted for a similar process the same year. By 1850, over ten million tons of zinc were used to protect steel from the elements.
Steel is now being galvanized in most countries of the world and more uses for it are being found everyday. This is particularly true in the construction industry as wood is becoming more scarce and the galvanization process recedes in price due to a larger demand.
Today, galvanized steel can be found in virtually every industry that uses steel including utilities, the pulp and paper industry, automobiles, and any other industry where the end products are subject to outdoor exposure. The benefits of galvanization is proven each day as new industries surface that use steel as a component.
Aside from being economical, galvanized steel products have a long life and are totally protected. Under most circumstances, steel that has been galvanized will last longer than the product of which it is a part. Because the process involves dipping the product into a vat of molten zinc, every area will be protected unlike other products that are treated after they are used. Also, since galvanization can been seen by the naked eye, inspecting it can be managed by simple and non-destructive methods.
Many people believe that galvanized steel may be better than substitutes but that it costs substantially more to produce. Actually, it is less expensive to produce than most alternatives, combined with its extended life. For example, a galvanized steel stud requires about one-half the labor cost than does the more popular wooden stud used in most buildings, and labor cost are a major component in the production of both products. And, studs made of galvanized steel last far longer.