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Understanding VCI Items: How They Work, Uses, and Benefits

When a corroded metal pipe bursts, it can spill hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a natural habitat.

While this is an extreme example, it underscores the importance of keeping metal parts rust-free. Rusted metal parts can cause excessive friction in machinery. Corrosion and pitting weaken metal components to the point that they can become unsafe to use.

Fortunately, an easy solution exists in the form of VCI technology. When you include it in the packaging of metal products, you can have peace of mind that your product will arrive at its destination in rust-free condition.

Keep reading to learn how VCI technology works and why you should include it in your packaging.

How VCI Works

VCI is an acronym that can stand for any of these three phrases:

·         Volatile corrosion inhibitor

·         Vapor corrosion inhibitor

·         Vapor phase corrosion inhibitor

Engineers originally developed it in the early 20th century to protect metal in tropical environments. It was first deployed after WWII to protect military equipment. Over time, the technology has become safer and more effective than ever.

Early versions used nitrates and could only protect certain types of metal. In modern times, VCI technology is more versatile and uses amine derivatives instead of nitrates.

VCI anti-rust products keep enclosed spaces rust-free by forming an invisible barrier on metal surfaces.

To explain how it works, let's review how corrosion happens in the first place.

It's an electrochemical process that occurs when metal molecules react with oxygen. For this to happen, a conducting solution of electrolytes is necessary. Any kind of moisture can act as an electrolyte.

VCI packaging involves vapors that disseminate throughout an enclosed space until they reach an equilibrium. The vapor rests on metal surfaces and forms a thin shield of micro-crystals.

Whenever these crystals come into contact with moisture, they dissolve and develop strong ionic activity. The ions cause protective ions to absorb onto the metal surface to form the protective film. This film repels the electrolytes we mentioned earlier and diffuses oxygen from the surface, thus protecting the metal from corrosion.

VCI products do not alter the metal's properties, nor do they affect the conductivity or dimensional tolerances of the metal. They are a simple and easy method of preventing damage to metal products.

How to Use VCI

The types of metals VCI paper will protect include iron, steel, zinc, magnesium, and copper. More generally, they protect ferrous and nonferrous metals, alloys, and coupled metals.

VCI packaging products are particularly useful for application with acidic packing materials. These include the most common packing materials like corrugated boxes and wooden pallets.

High temperatures promote a stronger tendency towards rusting. The good news is that VCI is responsive to temperature. More shielding material evaporates onto the metal at high temperatures, thus self-adjusting to the environment!

It's usually sold as a solid for ease of handling. Packaging personnel should wear gloves while they handle the metal parts because it's important for the metal to be clean and free of fingerprints.

You only need to place it in the vicinity of the metal product, and the particles will migrate to attach to the metal. It should be within 300 mm from the item.

If you are wrapping the product, the active side should face the metal.

When it comes to how much you should use, the rule of thumb is 1 m2 of VCI product for every 1-2.5 m2 of metal surface. You should use at least 1 m2 of VCI product for every 0.25 cubic meter of void space (the empty space inside the package).

VCI packaging should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. It was a shelf life of up to 5 years. This applies whether it's unused or in use with a product that is in storage.

Something to keep in mind is that the vapor pressure in the space affects how well the barrier maintains itself. A high-pressure environment can make the barrier less stable. A low-pressure environment allows it to last longer and develop more durable protection.

The goal is to achieve a controlled and dependable volatilization, and that's why a sealed environment is necessary for the most effective performance.

Once the metal item arrives at its destination, the customer can immediately put it to use. There is no need to clean it, and the VCI molecules evaporate into the air after a while.

Benefits of VCI

VCI products eliminate the need for messy and time-consuming coatings or greasy rust-preventatives. This reduces labor time and hazardous waste disposal fees that result from the use of solvents to clean off petroleum-based solutions.

VCI is also useful in the case of intricate metal pieces on which it would be difficult to apply a coating. This is particularly useful if you're packaging metal parts like boilers or valves.

It saves electricity by eliminating the need for a dehumidification system.

It saves space, as you can easily adapt it to the size and shape of the item you're packaging.

VCI technology works in multiple phases (liquid vapor, and interface). This makes it effective whether the metal part is above or below the fluid level in oil and gas applications.

It only takes a few hours to reach complete protection and no other processing is necessary. This helps you save time and money, while you enjoy more thorough and reliable protection than other metal preservation methods can offer.

You can open and reseal packages without affecting the corrosion protection, as long as nobody touches the metal during the inspection.

Perhaps most importantly, it is safe for people, it's recyclable, and it reduces waste by preventing product spoilage.

Where to Get VCI Products

VCI technology is an elegant, modern, and efficient way of preventing rust on metal products during shipping and storage. It can help you reduce losses and improve your customer service by ensuring an undamaged product.

Drop Pack Secure a line to inquire about their VCI options. They have a wide variety of packaging and shipping solutions, as well as more than two decades of experience in the industry.


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