What Is Anodizing (and Should You Choose it)?

Intro

There are a number of different manufacturing methods and steps that are used by any fabricator. As you’re designing a part, you want to make sure you get the most out of your design. For many, that means turning to anodization. 

If you’re not sure what anodizing is or if it’s right for you, you came to the right place. In this expert guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know. By the end, you’ll know if it’s the right choice for your upcoming project.

What Is Anodizing?

Anodizing is a very common post-process step, which means that it gets done after a part is fabricated and before it gets shipped to you.

It’s an electrochemical process that physically changes the outside layer of your part. As opposed to painting or powder coating, this process doesn’t simply add a layer on top of your part.

Most people will anodize aluminum, and the process has to be done with a nonferrous metal or else it won’t work. With aluminum, the new outer layer is made up of pure aluminum oxide. This is done by dunking the finished part into a bath of acids and electrolytes. An electrical current is then forced through the part, and the chemical process takes place.

This is why the part needs to be nonferrous. A ferrous metal contains iron which will disrupt the process and cause the oxidized layer to fall off rather than stick to the part.

The Benefit of Anodizing Aluminum 

In an effort to explain what anodizing is and whether or not you should consider it, our experts put together this quick list. We’ll review some of the biggest benefits when it comes to anodizing aluminum parts for various industries and applications.

It’s More Durable

One of the most common reasons to anodize metal is to make the piece more durable. Remember, this protective layer is fully fused to the aluminum, so it won’t just chip off over time. The anodized piece is better at resisting corrosion, taking impact, and lasting longer without failure.

If you’re looking for parts that are durable and last a while, then anodization might be right for you.

The Part Becomes Easier to Maintain

If you have a standard piece of aluminum on your process line, you can run into a few big problems. If the part gets scratched, dirt builds up, or minor damage leads to rusting, then you’ll need to face downtime as you fix or repair the part.

Even a small part can cause your company to lose thousands of dollars in downtime. With anodization, you won’t have to worry about cleaning the part or dealing with minor damages like these. The protective outside layer will prevent damage and minimize the amount of maintenance required.

You’ll Save Money Long Term

If you combine the downtime, required maintenance, cleaning costs, and replacements necessary for a stock piece of aluminum, you’ll be left with sticker shock. If the piece is anodized instead, most of these issues get minimized and you’ll be able to save money in the long run.

The good news is that the anodization process is relatively inexpensive — especially when you compare it to these costs we just mentioned. It’s the equivalent of putting a protective case on your phone in order to avoid costly repairs in the future.

It’s an Easy Process

We described the anodization process earlier, and it’s truly that easy. A part gets submerged in a chemical bath and has a current passed through it. Of course, there’s a lot of nuance that goes into setting up and professionally executing that process, but it’s an easy process.

There are no major geometric or size issues that might prevent a part from getting anodized. As long as the bath is large enough to accept the part, you’ll be able to get a professional treatment.

Since the process is so easy, it can be done to nearly any part (as long as it’s a nonferrous metal). This also means that you designers don’t need to make parts specifically for anodization, it’s a process that can be done on your legacy, off-the-shelf units.

On top of that, it’s a process that can be done across industries and in countless applications. 

Should You Choose Anodization?

In general, there are few applications where anodization will hurt a process rather than help it. In other words, it’s a great process that can boost the performance of the parts in your operation.

It could be something as simple as a conveyor roller or as complex as a robotic arm. Whenever aluminum is used in an assembly, it’s always a good idea to wonder if anodization can help.

If you want the part to last longer, be more durable, and save you money over time, then anodization is probably a good choice. If you’re working with steel or plastics, then it’s unfortunately not even an option. However, we have other finishing steps that might be right for you, so send us an email to get connected.

Conclusion

Is anodization right for your application? If you’re not sure, you can reach out to our experts at Rapid Axis. As we just covered, it’s a great process that can save you money, help you get more reliable parts, and boost the performance of aluminum within your facility. For a free quote, reach out to us today. We can provide professional-grade anodization on a wide range of products.

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