The Problem of Hydrogen Embrittlement in Industry


Industrial-grade metal tools and equipment are essential in factories and other industrial sectors. These tools are commonly treated through plating or painting but this process can cause what is called hydrogen embrittlement. When this happens, the metal becomes weaker and more prone to breakage.

What Is Hydrogen Embrittlement?

When hydrogen atoms become trapped beneath the surface of a plated or painted metal surface, they penetrate the metal and form molecular bonds. These hydrogen bonds then cause the metal to become softer and weaker and may even cause it to crack. This is a problem for businesses that rely on hard-wearing industrial tools and equipment.

A Better and More Affordable Solution

The good news is that the Blackfast process largely solves the issue of hydrogen embrittlement in metal tools and equipment. What happens during the metal blacking process is that the tool to be treated is fully submerged in an alkaline chemical bath. The chemicals alter the molecular structure of the surface of the metal and it takes on a black appearance.

The benefits of the blacking process are as follows:

  • Strength: Metals that undergo this process are stronger and more durable. This is the sort of durability and strength that is absolutely crucial to the daily operations of any industrial business. In this sense, the blacking process is at least equal, if not superior, to other methods of treating metal.
  • Minimised Hydrogen: As stated earlier, hydrogen embrittlement is a real problem when it comes to plated and painted metal surfaces. The hydrogen becomes trapped and affects the surface of the metal adversely. The blacking process largely eliminates this issue because it is submerged fully in an alkaline bath of chemicals. The chances of hydrogen becoming trapped beneath the surface are minimised dramatically.
  • Tolerances: All premium-grade industrial components are built to very tight tolerances. The problem with conventional treatment processes such as plating and painting is that they add a layer of material to the surface of the original surface. This changes the dimensions of the component and may have an impact in use where tighter tolerances are required. By contrast, metal blacking does not add anything extra to the surface. The alkaline chemical bath changes the molecular structure of the metal surface and no additional material is added. In this way, dimensions are fully preserved and tolerances do not change.

The fact is that no business can afford to have underperforming tools. Just imagine how dangerous it could be if an essential piece of equipment or machinery breaks down while it is being used by a staff member. In this context, metal blacking is the ideal solution to hydrogen embrittlement and flaky tools.

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