Definition Of Anodizing

Anodizing can put vivid colors onto aluminum items.

Anodizing can turn an ordinary piece of aluminum into something extraordinary. This technical process allows for aluminum to be colored with fabric dye. Almost all aluminum items can be anodized, as long as they can fit into a container containing the necessary solutions. Anodized finishes are also long-lasting and durable.

What is Anodizing?

Anodizing is an electrochemical process that puts an oxide film over certain metals, almost always aluminum. The metals that can be anodized are aluminum, niobium, titanium, tungsten, zirconium and tantalum. This film that is placed on metals can be colored in a solid color or a splash design.

Anodizing Applications

Many people will anodize aluminum artwork, automotive parts, paintball guns, model cars and more. The piece of aluminum that is to be anodized must be clean and small enough to fit in a sturdy metal container. When aluminum is not clean, the finish will have blemishes and discoloration.

Materials for Anodizing

The anodizing process requires the use of sulfuric acid, water and fabric dye. Sulfuric acid can be purchased at many home improvement stores, while fabric dye is available at many hobby and craft stores. Anodizing also requires a battery charger, tinfoil, aluminum wiring, a rubber bucket and a metal container that can be heated on the stove.

The Process

Aluminum first gets a thorough cleaning to remove all contaminants. It then takes a bath in a solution of sulfuric acid and water. This aluminum part will be connected to the positive terminal of a battery charger, while the negative lead is placed on the inside of the bottom of the bucket. After this step, the part is cleaned with cold water and placed into another bath that contains water and fabric dye. The part is allowed to soak in the coloring and is then placed in a pot of boiling water to seal the new finish onto the piece of aluminum.

A Potentially Dangerous Process

Since anodizing involves acid and electrical current, it can be a dangerous process if not done properly. It is always best to use protective equipment such as rubber gloves and goggles when handling the acid. It is also imperative to have a fire extinguisher around at all times to prevent fires.