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Metallizing for Corrosion Control Introduction to Metallizing
I-71 Overpass metallized in 1986. Photographed in 1998.
I-71 Overpass metalized in 1986.
Photographed in 1998.
Coating for Bridges

Perhaps the most convincing argument in favor of metalizing bridges comes from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Their comparison of sprayed-metalic coatings with paint coatings is contained in the Federal Highway Administration's Report FHWA-RD-96-058 "Environmentally Acceptable Materials for the Corrosion Protection of Steel Bridges". A total of 47 coatings were tested. Metalized coatings of sealed and un-sealed aluminum, zinc, and zinc-15 aluminum were compared with liquid paint coatings, including zinc-rich, waterborne inorganic zinc and various combinations of epoxies and urethanes.

Results from this evaluation were first reported at the Fourth World Congress on Coating Systems for Bridge and Steel Structures sponsored by the Coatings Institute, University of Missouri-Rolla in 1995 in a paper entitled "Comparing the Performance of Metalized and Conventional Low VOC Coatings applied to Steel in Marine Environments". After four years of exposure, the metalized coatings were seen as the top performing systems, rated 10 out of a possible 10 points.

The final report of this evaluation "Environmentally Acceptable Materials for the Corrosion Protection of Steel Bridges", FHWA-RD-96-058, January 1997, covers 5 to 6.5 years of exposure. In part, the Conclusion reads: "Metalized systems consistently provided the best corrosion protection performance. All metalized coatings tested showed no corrosion failure in the aggressive, salt-rich environments over the 5 to 6.5 year exposure periods. Steel panels metalized with aluminum and not sealed with a VOC-compliant vinyl topcoat began to show minor blushing after 4 years of exposure in the most aggressive environments. The metalized panels that were topcoated showed no discoloration over the test periods."

Representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, visited one test site, the Thomas Mathis Bridge in Seaside Heights, New Jersey during the week of August 17, 1998. Their tenth year inspection found the metalizing essentially in its original condition. The metalized coatings are the only coatings still rated 10 out of a possible 10. The relative performance of metalizing and the paint coatings has not changed since the year fourth year inspection.



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