Maximizing Efficiency: The Importance of In-House Grinding Capabilities in Thermal Spray Services

grinding wheel up against pump shaft with coolant flowing over

Every heavy industrial manufacturer would agree that the best solution to a maintenance and reliability issue is the most efficient one. One that provides a quality solution, in the ideal amount of time, at a price that fits within the budget. Thermal spray coatings provide wear and corrosion resistant coatings that increase the efficiency of heavy industrial parts. To maximize that efficiency, choosing the right thermal spray provider is paramount. One often overlooked factor is grinding capabilities. Grinding services are a key component of the thermal spray process and can have a profound effect on the coating quality, lead time, and cost of thermal spray coatings. 

Why Do You Need Grinding for Thermal Spray Coatings? 

shaft with rough surface finish versus shaft with smooth finish

Thermal spray coatings are applied with a variety of spray methods, and some have more precise coating thicknesses than others. Most of the time, a thermal spray coating is built up thicker than the desired finish dimensions. Grinding or diamond grinding is used to achieve the correct dimensional tolerances and surface finish required for optimal performance. Coatings are sometimes left in the as-sprayed condition to offer friction and grip benefits but may not be as precise of a dimension. So, since grinding is essential, having thermal spray and grinding services under one roof provides some serious benefits. 

1. Coating Quality 

Most conventional grind shops don’t regularly work with hardened materials. Thermal spray coatings can have hardness measurements of upwards of 50-60 Rockwell C. Grinding tungsten carbide is very different than grinding stainless steel. In fact, grinding a thermal spray stainless steel coating is very different from grinding stainless steel stock material due to the way the coatings are formed. If a thermal spray company has in-house grinding, their grinding operators will have more experience working with hardened coatings. Knowledge and expertise in finish grinding thermal spray coatings can impact coating quality and performance. Experience level can also affect processing speed and lead times.

2. Lead Time 

If you only need to move a part 20 feet versus 20 plus miles after coating, it will save time. Shipping to an outsourced grind shop can add 1-3 weeks, or more, to your turnaround time.  You also raise the risk of compounding any backlog the thermal spray provider or grind shop might have. Not only do you have to factor in the added lead time from outsourcing grinding services, but the added cost as well. 

3. Cost 

I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret, most companies have to up-charge any outsourced services to cover the cost of shipping and the added liability of things going wrong when the parts are at another vendor. The cost of the grinding service itself will also be higher since the outsourced grinding provider will add their profit markup as well. Using a thermal spray company that has in-house grinding capabilities will reduce the cost of a thermal spray coating. 

Make an Efficient Solution Even More Efficient 

Most people choose thermal spray coatings to increase the efficiency of their product or process. For a thermal spray solution to be efficient it will provide good coating quality, lead time, and cost. All of that to say, there’s a time and a place to outsource grinding. We do it, from time to time, if the part is too large for our equipment or requires a more advanced type of grinding technique. However, the benefits of in-house grinding services for everyday diamond grinding and cylindrical grinding are clear. To get the most out of your thermal spray coatings choose a thermal spray company that has in-house grinding capabilities. 

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