How can the right surface treatment be profitable?

2 min read

Asks Lars Petterson, production manager at truck component manufacturer VBG

A truck consists largely of steel and it has a natural tendency to rust. You can call it corrosion, oxidation or even malignant corrosive damage to the steel. This corrosive damage is often a costly story and affects many industries. It is estimated that approximately 3% of the world’s total GDP is wasted annually due to rusting! So there is an obvious reason to try prevent rust. An important key to reducing corrosion is surface treatment. The better the surface treatment, the less corrosion, and thus a longer service life for the steel component.


Surface treatment, or surface finishing, refers to a range of processes that give materials and equipment certain properties. These properties can be completely different, and which or what is important depends on the context in which the component will be used. The properties may be cosmetic – that the surface should look nice – or functional – for example, that the surface must withstand both rust and hard wear. In the case of trucks, all of these properties are desirable. After all, the vehicle is part of the haulier’s public image, and therefore a high finish on the component surfaces is desirable, just as high durability and corrosion resistance will mean that the total cost of ownership is lower – the components simply last longer before damage has to be rectified or they need to be replaced.


In the automotive industry, there are different types of surface treatment for different components. Some manufacturers choose a simple and inexpensive surface treatment for their products to keep the price down, while others impose higher standards to be able to deliver a more sustainable product. This requires a more expensive surface treatment process that is often done in several stages.

To meet the highest standards in the automotive industry, complex processes are necessary. Since our business model here at VBG includes offering to meet the industry’s highest demands on wear resistance, corrosion protection and finishing, our products get their appearance and durability through a complex and unique surface treatment process.


The surface treatment of VBG products is actually a paint system with two functions: corrosion protection and adhesion of paint.

To create the best possible corrosion protection, wear resistance and high finish, sheet metal details go through a complex multi-step process:

1.Mechanical pre-treatment. Blasting cleans the surface from contaminants that can arise during laser cutting and welding. After the blasting, the surface is clean and ready for the chemical process.

2.Chemical pre-treatment. Chemical pre-treatment is carried out by means of an extensive process involving 10 stages. During this process, the surface is transformed by a so-called zinc-manganese phosphate coating, where the zinc content reinforces the corrosion protection and the phosphate crystals increase adhesion.

3.EPD treatment (primer). This is the first step of painting, where the black primer is applied by means of EPD treatment (electrophoretic deposition). The primer now encloses the zinc-manganese phosphate coating and further strengthens corrosion protection. The conditions are now optimal for the final coat of paint.

4.Powder coating (topcoat). The powder coat is applied via friction charging and then hardened in an oven. This gives a durable and stone chip-resistant surface that also resists sun bleaching. In this way, the surface retains its high finish for many years to come.

As soon as the vehicle leaves the VBG assembly facility, the surfaces will be better able to withstand stresses such as mechanical wear and stone chipping, compared to components with simpler surface treatment. Furthermore, you can expect a considerably longer service life – with a maintained finish, which also adds to the resale value.

World-class surface treatment is an investment that pays off.

This article is an edited version of a VBG blog originally published 12 February on