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Removing Mill Scale from Steel Surfaces

Steel surfaces can sometimes exhibit residual mill scale as a side effect of the production process. Though not harmful in and of itself, the presence of scale is detrimental in conditions where corrosion is likely to occur, and it must be removed before a workpiece can be given a protective coating.


Shiny steel parts


This post discusses the role of mill scale in the steel production and coating process, including the fastest way to remove mill scale from surfaces.


Identifying Mill Scale

Mill scale (often known simply as ‘scale’) refers to the thin, flaky texture that forms on the outer surface of hot-rolled iron oxides and metals. It is a by-product of manufacturing hot-rolled metal plates and sheets, occurring as the surface oxidizes during the heating, conditioning and hot rolling processes.


Scale has a distinctive blue-grey colour and a flaky or powdery consistency. It is not a continuous layer, but rather a thin, uneven coat (1mm thickness or less) of mixed iron oxides that chips easily on contact.

Unlike rust, which forms over a long period of exposure to oxygen and moisture, scale forms on all steel and iron products that are hot rolled. The only way to prevent its appearance would be to manufacture them in an inert atmosphere.


Mill scale is not in itself harmful to the workpiece. In fact, in the short term, a layer of scale helps to protect the metal’s surface from corrosion and other negative atmospheric effects. The problem begins when the mill scale breaks – which, given its brittleness, is practicably inevitable during handling, storage or transportation.


Why Mill Scale Must Be Removed

Scale is very fragile, and the moment it cracks, it turns from a protective barrier to a detriment.


Mill scale is less reactive than the steel surface it covers, acting as a cathode to the more reactive material underneath. Once the scale coating breaks (which occurs easily) and moisture comes through, the presence of the scale iron oxide accelerates the corrosion process at the breakage point.


The presence of mill scale is also a hindrance to applying paint or powder coating, which adheres poorly to scale. Left in place, the scale will eventually chip and break the coating’s surface, allowing moisture to penetrate.


It is wasteful to apply a protective coating over a workpiece covered with mill scale. For this reason, scale removal is an indispensable step in the pre-coating process.


Removing Mill Scale from Iron or Stainless Steel

To achieve a smooth, durable coating, mill scale must be removed from an iron or steel workpiece before application. This is true for powder coatings, paints and other finishing techniques meant to protect the surface from corrosion.


Shot Blasting, a method used to clean, strengthen and polish metal, is a fast and cost-effective way to remove mill scale. This service is normally carried out to prepare the surface of steel before applying any coating. Having the steel prepared by shot blasting is generally considered to be the most important factor affecting any corrosion protection system or coating.


At Latem Industries, our diverse line of wheel/suction shot blasting equipment includes monorail, tumble blast, swing table and conveyor to suit your blasting needs.


Latem carries a wide range of shot and grit to service your needs, including:

  • Scale Removal
  • Shot Peening
  • White Metal Cleaning
  • Rust Removal
  • Deflashing of Castings
  • Commercial Clean
  • Uniform Finish
  • Prep Prior to Paint

For further information on shot blasting, or to request a free quote for shot blasting in Southern Ontario, please contact us.

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Getting the Rust Out: Metal Finishing Solutions for Rust or Corrosion

Imagine processing and shipping thousands of parts to your customer – only to discover your shipment was rejected due to rust.


Rust or corrosion is a significant issue in manufacturing facilities large and small, impacting resources and increasing operating costs. Rust is difficult to prevent and nearly impossible to anticipate on manufactured parts.


Remove rust and corrosion


When rust occurs, leading manufacturers look to Latem Industries for metal finishing solutions. Here’s how we can help.


So, What Exactly Is Rust?

Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel.


Rust is an iron oxide (usually a red oxide) that forms when iron and oxygen react in the presence of water or air moisture. There are several types of rust that form under different circumstances and are distinguishable visually and by spectroscopy.


Surface rust can be spotted or flaky and does not protect the underlying iron, which enables the oxide to grow. With enough time, oxygen and moisture will eventually convert an iron part entirely to rust and disintegrate it.


How Latem Solves the Problem

Latem Industries uses various processes to remove rust or corrosion from processed parts:

The best process for removing rust from mass quantities of parts is often determined by the extent of the corrosion and the geometry of the part.


For minor rust problems around your home or workshop, you can try using this simple home solution: salt + lime. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the rust, then squeeze the lime over the salt until it is soaking. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 hours and then remove the rust with the lime rind. This can also be done with a lemon, but we like the salt and lime a little more because they double as margarita ingredients.


Mass Metal Finishing Solutions for Rust or Corrosion

Latem (metal spelled backwards) has the capacity to clean away rust from millions of parts daily. Whether the part is the size of a thimble or as large as a sheet of steel, we have the best processes available to quickly and cost-effectively remove rust.


Once the rust is removed, we treat each and every piece with a rust inhibitor.


So, when rust impacts your operations, call Latem or use the easy Get a Quotation link on our web page.

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Meet Latem’s New Parts Washing Equipment: The Universal Cleaning System & Jomesa Cleanliness Analysis

Latem Industries has acquired two new systems to enhance and extend our parts washing services.


universal cleaning system


The Universal 81W cleaning system is a modular design parts washer that utilizes both ultrasonic cleaning and high-pressure immersion. It is suitable not only for removing oil from mass-produced parts but also for the fine cleaning of assembly parts.


In conjunction, we have also purchased our first particle analysis system: the Jomesa HFD4 (High Focal Depth) Cleanliness Analysis System. This state-of-the-art equipment is a fully-automated particle analysis system for measuring, counting and categorizing contamination on filter membranes. It can detect metallic, non-metallic, or fiber contamination at a microscopic level, allowing us to demonstrate our results with precision testing and proof of cleanliness.


We’re eager to combine these two systems to meet and exceed your parts cleaning needs. These investments reinforce our pursuit of perfection in parts washing and ultrasonic cleaning.

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Latem Industries is Proudly an ISO 9001:2015 Certified Metal Finisher

The team at Latem Industries is proud to announce our recognition as an ISO 9001:2015 certified metal finisher. We’ve worked hard to implement processes and produce results that meet these rigorous quality standards.



For Latem Industries (and our metal coating company Plastico Industries), ISO 9001:2015 certification means:

  • Latem Industries’ top management demonstrates leadership and commitment to upholding a Quality Management System that meets ISO 9001:2015 standards.
  • Our Quality Management System comprehensively addresses risks, opportunities, changes and quality objectives.
  • We have plans and processes in place to meet our customers’ requirements for our services.
  • All our employees have the training and resources they need to support our Quality Management System.
  • The roles and responsibilities necessary to uphold this commitment have been assigned, communicated and understood.
  • We continuously monitor, measure, analyze, and evaluate our Quality Management System with an aim to improve wherever we can.

Below, we’ll explain why being an ISO 9001:2015 metal finisher matters to us and our customers.


ISO 9001:2015 Certification: What Does it Mean?

The ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, an independent international organization that sets quality, safety and efficiency standards.


These standards apply across all industries, products and services, including metal finishing. The ISO is recognized worldwide and endorsed by both the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).


ISO 9001:2015 is the latest revision to these standards. ISO 9001:2015 provides a clear roadmap to guide companies like Latem Industries in meeting (and surpassing) customer expectations and regulatory requirements.


Being ISO 9001:2015 certified is something that matters both to us and our customers. Internally, it demonstrates our commitment to the quality and consistency our customers expect. That means delivering exceptional metal finishing services and customer service that goes above and beyond what our customers expect.


When you see that a company has earned ISO 9001:2015 certification, you can trust that their promises are backed by a universal quality management process.


Latem’s ISO 9001:2015 Certificate

How do you know if a company is ISO 9001:2015 certified? A Certificate of Registration like this one.


This certificate demonstrates that Latem Industries’ Quality Management System and processes passed an independent audit by an accredited certification body. Our audit was conducted by The Registrar Company, a trusted certification body accredited by the ANSI-ANQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB).


ISO 9001:2008 vs. ISO 9001:2015

If you’re already familiar with the previous standards set in 2008, you’ll find few changes in the ISO’s current criteria. What has changed is:

  • New structure (expanding from 8 clauses to 10)
  • Renewed focus on top-level accountability, involving the highest levels of management in implementing and maintaining ISO standards
  • Emphasis on risk management throughout the organization, using the system as a preventative tool that encourages continuous improvements to process
  • More flexibility for organizations like Latem Industries to develop ISO documentation in a format that meets our needs as a industrial metal coater
  • Alignment with other key management system standards

Work with a Certified Metal Finisher

Latem Industries is proud to produce results that meet internationally-recognized quality standards. Start working with an ISO 9001:2015 certified industrial metal finisher today.

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5 Economic Benefits of Choosing a Canadian Metal Finisher

Metal finishing is a necessary step in numerous Canadian manufacturing industries. The finishing process has a substantial impact on the function, appearance and longevity of manufactured metal parts. The decision on whether to use metal finishing services in Canada or outsource the job overseas can also impact the final product.


5 Economic Benefits of Choosing a Canadian Metal Finisher


Why choose a Canadian metal finisher? For some manufacturers, the choice may ultimately be a financial once. But there are other factors to consider when weighing the benefits of Canadian metal finishing versus finishing overseas.


1. Lead Time Required for Metal Finishing

Many metal finishing operations overseas are fast and efficient, able to process mass quantities of parts in a short time. But having parts finished overseas will always require a much greater lead time. There are no “rush orders” when your parts are an ocean away.


Canadian metal finishers are more agile. The closer proximity to Canadian manufacturers means it’s feasible to accommodate unexpected orders or last-minute changes. Thousands of parts go through our factory floor and out the door each day, and our customers know we can get the job done when time is of the essence.


2. Duties and Transportation Costs

At first glance, the cost of finishing parts overseas may appear more affordable than metal finishing in Canada. But there’s more to it than the base cost of the finishing project.


Having parts finished overseas means greater transportation costs, especially when you’re dealing with large quantities of heavy metal parts. Using a foreign finishing service also incurs duties that are non-existent when you do metal finishing in Canada.


In the current economic climate, it’s hard to predict how duties and tariffs could change in the future, turning a lucrative overseas partnership into a financial headache.


Choosing a Canadian metal finisher provides far more clarity and stability in terms of cost.


3. Environmental Benefits

Today, the metal finishing and coating industries are more environmentally-friendly than ever before. However, they can still result in harmful by-products.

The metal finishing often follows a parts-washing process, which frequently involves the use of chemical solvents and cleaners. Depending on the finishing method of choice, the finishing process itself can produce wastewater, effluents, spent process solutions, and air emissions.


Here in Canada, metal finishers must conform to stringent industry standards and environmental regulations that ensure any waste is disposed of as safely as possible. Canadian metal finishers are also doing their part to achieve our provincial and national climate goals.


Unfortunately, this level of environmental protection is not a guarantee with metal finishers overseas.


4. Clear Communication

Email and VoIP technology has made it possible to communicate with foreign partners in an instant. Despite these advancements, miscommunication remains a problem for many Canadian manufacturers when it comes to outsourcing. The fact that you cannot see the finisher’s operations first-hand means that errors and misunderstanding might not surface until it’s too late to make changes.


Miscommunication can still happen in Canada, of course. But taking the barriers of language and distance out of the equation allows for smoother ongoing communication and more certainty for the manufacturer and metal finisher alike.


5. Canadians Get the Job Done Right

Fact is, there’s no part of the metal finishing we can’t do in Canada. Canadian manufacturers who choose local finishers enjoy the benefit of a skilled, stable business partner get the job done to order.


Over the years, Latem Industries has continuously improved and expanded our operations to meet our customers’ changing needs. We’re proud to be a Canadian metal finishing company that support numerous Canadian manufacturing industries. 


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Latem Industries acquires Peen & Clean from ADS Group


Latem Industries Limited, Canada’s leading provider of metal finishing services, has announced its acquisition of Peen & Clean, the metal finishing division of the ADS Group, based in Hamilton, Ontario.


Latem Industries is relentlessly seeking to enhance our value position with our customers while reducing operating costs and maintaining our exceptional focus on quality. The acquisition of Peen & Clean enhances Latem Industries unique set of tools to deliver a single source solution to our manufacturing partners.  With this acquisition, we fortify our resources and maintain Latem Industries position as the leader in the metal finishing industry.


About Latem Industries


Canada’s Mass Finishing Expert. Latem Industries helps its customers to solve the most challenging metal finishing requirements.


For over 40 years Latem Industries has been the solution for manufacturers in Ontario and beyond. Based in Cambridge along Hwy 401, the 80,000sq.ft. facility holds the capacity to process up to 15 million parts per month.


The process portfolio includes vibratory finishing, shot blasting, shot peening, machine tumbling, ultrasonic cleaning, burnishing and polishing, machine tumbling and parts washing.

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Will Barrel Tumbling or Vibratory Finishing Damage My Metal Parts

Mass finishing technologies like barrel tumblers and vibratory machines enable us to finish massive quantities of parts in a short time.


However, some customers raise concerns about the impact mass metal finishing will have on their products. Will barrel tumbling or vibratory finishing cause damage to metal parts?



An experienced mass metal finisher will understand the measures one must take to avoid damaging the parts during the finishing process. These considerations include:

  • Choosing the correct finishing method for the part
  • Selecting an appropriate media
  • Filling the chamber with a proper media-to-part ratio
  • Adjusting machine settings

With proper preparation and media selection, metal parts should survive the barrel tumbling or vibratory finishing process unscathed — save for the imperfections the process is designed to remove.


Mass Metal Finishing: Vibratory Finishing vs Barrel Tumbling

Vibratory finishing and barrel tumbling are methods of preparing metal parts for coating. Both processes are widely used for polishing, burnishing, de-scaling, de-flashing, radiusing, and deburring services.


The difference between barrel tumbling and vibratory finishing is how the machines create the friction required to remove imperfections from the metal parts.


In barrel tumbling, the parts are placed in a tumbling barrel along with finishing media (small pieces of metal, ceramic, or other materials) and compounds (like cleaners and polish). The barrel rotates at a set speed, causing the parts inside to tumble against the media and each other.


With vibratory finishing, the parts, media and compounds are placed into a tub, and instead of spinning like a barrel tumbler, the tub vibrates rapidly. The vibration causes the parts and media to rub together.


For some parts, the force of barrel tumbling is necessary to get a good, clean finish; in other cases, barrel tumbling is too harsh, even with a lighter choice of media. Vibratory finishing is generally easier on parts than barrel tumbling. The correct choice depends both on the part and the desired finish.


Choosing the Correct Finishing Method

The shape and size of the metal parts in question is a significant factor when choosing the correct finishing method that won’t cause damage.


Simple shapes, like spherical and cube-like parts, can often withstand barrel tumbling with no risk of damage. More delicate parts (with thin pieces, small details, protrusions or openings) tend to be better-suited to a vibratory machine.


Selecting an Appropriate Media

To produce a quality finish, the finishing media must be able to reach all surfaces of the part without causing damage or becoming lodged in gaps or crooks. There is a wide variety of finishing media available for all different types of parts and finishes, the most common of which are made of steel, ceramic, or plastic.


Lighter, smaller media are usually more appropriate for delicate parts, while sturdy parts can go into the barrel with larger, heavier materials.


Media-to-Part Ratio

In addition to rubbing against the parts to remove imperfections, media acts as a cushion that prevents parts from hitting each other too forcefully inside the machine. If there is not enough media between them, the parts will collide and potentially take damage during the finishing process. Delicate parts call for a higher media-to-part ratio.


Machine Settings

Barrel tumblers have adjustable rotation speed, and vibratory machines can vibrate faster or slower depending on the machine’s settings. The person operating the machine must choose settings that fit the job.

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5 Benefits of Barrel Tumbling for Mass Metal Finishing

Barrel tumbling is a mass metal finishing technique that can be used to achieve a number of surface finishes. It involves placing an unfinished metal piece into a horizontal barrel, along with cleaning compounds and finishing media, and using centrifugal force to work a clean surface. The benefits of barrel tumbling make it the ideal technique for manufacturers that need consistent results fast.



1. Consistency

Consistency is a key aim in mass production, but metal parts don’t always come off the line looking entirely uniform. It is not only a matter of appearance, but function, as sharp edges and other deficiencies can impact the performance of the part.


The barrel tumbling process is an efficient way to smooth imperfections that stand in the way of a consistent batch. Mass metal finishing delivers far more consistent results than polishing by hand.


If you and your purchasers demand perfection of your parts, barrel tumbling is the way to go.


2. Speed

Need a fast finish? Barrel tumbling can keep pace with even the leanest production schedules. In fact, Latem processes millions of parts through our vibratory and tumbling departments each week.


Depending on the part in question, a complete barrel tumbling cycle can take between just six and 24 hours, and the consistency of this technique means you won’t have to watch the clock.


3. Versatility

Another benefit of barrel tumbling is the equipment’s versatility. We can calibrate barrel tumbling machines to achieve many different results, from mirror-finishes to edge breaking to rust and oil removal. The choice of finishing media, additives (like cleaners and rust inhibitors) can also be used to fine-tune the end product.


We use dozens of barrel tumbling machines here at Latem, and each is set up to attain a different finish.


4. Mass Finishing

Our barrel tumbling equipment is designed to process a massive volume of parts as efficiently as possible. The technique allows one to process dozens of orders at once with little handling required. Using barrel tumbling, even a modestly-sized team can finish swaths of parts in a short time.


5. Toughness

Barrel tumbling is tough. The technique is considerably more aggressive than vibratory finishing, making it ideal for those smaller, harder metal pieces that need serious work. It is possible to vary the impact of the process by adjusting the equipment and finishing media, but on the whole, barrel tumbling is suited to tougher mass metal finishing jobs.


There are other things to consider when choosing between vibratory finishing and barrel tumbling, of course. The weight and geometry of the part, as well as its present condition and the desired finish, are also factors. As experts in both techniques, the Latem Industries team can advise you on which metal finishing method will best meet your demands.

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Meet the Industries That Use Vibratory Finishing

Latem Industries has been in the metal finishing business for over 40 years. What started polishing trophies for the family business grew into the mass finishing and deburring service of choice for manufacturers across North America.


We’ve serviced a huge variety of parts over the years and had the opportunity to work with all kinds of industries. These are just a few of the industries that use vibratory finishing.


Industries that use vibratory finishing


What is Vibratory Finishing?


Let’s start from the top: what is vibratory finishing? In short, it’s a metal finishing technique that uses cyclical movement to remove sharp edges and rough surfaces from manufactured metal parts.


To do this, we place the parts in a bowl or tub along with a large volume of abrasive media (plus water, soap or rust inhibitors in some cases), then fire up the machine. The tub turns and vibrates, causing the media to rub against the part to take the edges off. Edge breaking, burnishing, cleaning, deburring, and polishing are among the metal finishing techniques achievable with vibratory finishing!


Depending on the application, cycle times can vary from just fifteen minutes to as long as five hours! Latem Industries has over 80,000 square feet dedicated to our mass metal finishing and specialty coating services, allowing us to process large volumes of parts in a single load. We churn out thousands of finished parts every week!


Industries that Use Vibratory Finishing


We couldn’t possibly name every industry we’ve worked with, but here are a few of the notable industries that use vibratory finishing to put the final touch on their products.


Automotive Industry


It’s no coincidence that our mass metal finishing facilities are located in the heart of Canada’s automotive industry. Southern Ontario is home to five significant auto and light truck assembly plants and over 600 independent auto parts facilities.


This sector is a vital cog in the country’s economic engine, and Latem is proud to have provided vibratory finishing services to the automotive industry for decades. The auto industry remains one of our largest clients and partners to this day.


Sports Industry


Another of our notable clients serves as a supplier to the world’s premier hockey leagues, including a few you may have heard of — the NHL and the AHL. Our vibratory finishing services help to ensure their products meets the demand of high-stakes hockey. Latem has serviced the metal channels used to hold hockey boards in place, iron elbows on goalie nets, and (of course) stainless steel skate blades.


Fitness Industry


Latem Industries has also done the heavy lifting for manufacturers of indoor and outdoor fitness equipment, like stationary bikes, weight plates, and universal fitness machines. Our work with the fitness industry has ranged from vibratory finishing of machine handles to ultrasonic cleaning of smaller components. Our sister company, Plastico, has also worked in this area, providing powder coating services for manufacturers of outdoor exercise and playground equipment.


Does Your Industry Use Vibratory Finishing?


While Latem Industries specializes in mass metal finishing, we also service smaller batches of parts in some circumstances. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you gain an edge in your industry!

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Why Choose Harperizing to Deliver a Polished Finish?

Manufacturers have more options than ever when it comes to metal finishing. One process is harperizing, also known as centrifugal finishing. While less common than shot peening or shot blasting, it is no less effective than other mass finishing techniques — in fact, many industries rely on harperizing to deliver a polished finished to their most delicate metal pieces.


Why choose harperizing to deliver a polished finish


What is Harperizing?

Harperizing is a metal finishing process that harnesses powerful centrifugal forces (commonly known as G-forces) to remove imperfections from metal parts.


If you’re unsure what a centrifuge is, think of a washing machine: as it spins, the inertia draws the garments away from the centre of the barrel to the sides and pushes water out through the holes. Centrifuges are machines that spin to generate that centrifugal force.


A harperizer finishing machine has two to four cylindrical containers mounted to a rotating barrel. When the rotating barrel spins in one direction, the cylinders spin the opposite, generating strong centrifugal forces within each container. This video offers a low-speed demonstration; the actual process occurs at much higher speeds.


We place the metal workpieces into the cylinders with water and an abrasive media. As with shot blasting and shot peening, the choice of media varies depending on the piece and the desired finish.

Once the cylinders are 50-90% full, we switch on the harperizer and let the centrifugal forces do their work. The force drives the workpieces and abrasive media together repeatedly to deliver a polished finish.


Why Choose Harperizing to Deliver a Polished Finish?

What makes harperizing stand out from other mass metal finishing processes like shot blasting and deburring? In many cases, centrifugal finishing is the most effective way to reach corners and edges on small or delicate workpieces. The action generated by the centrifugal forces are often gentle enough to deliver a fine, polished finish without damaging the parts in question. This makes harperizing a technique of choice in the medical device industry, along with the aerospace and automotive industries.


The second advantage of centrifugal finishing is speed. Harperizing can deliver results in far less time than other finishing processes, like conventional tumbling and vibratory finishing. 


Other Applications of Centrifugal Finishing

Harperizing can also be used for descaling, corrosion removal, and deburring. It is often a pre-treatment to prepare metal workpieces for painting, powder coating, or electroplating. Deburring services are key to ensuring other finishing processes work properly, and centrifugal deburring is often the best choice for small or delicate parts.


Harperizing and Other Mass Finishing Techniques

When manufacturers in Ontario need to make their products shine, they turn to us. Latem has been in the metal polishing business since 1977. In fact, we got our start polishing awards for the family trophy business! Since then, we have grown to service thousands of pieces in all kinds of industries, from automotive to aerospace.


While we specialize in mass finishing, we do service some smaller operations as well. Reach out to us if you have questions about mass metal finishing in Ontario.

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Tim Keane
January 21, 2019
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July 26, 2018
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April 24, 2018
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