Nature has its way of making and destroying things. Aluminum is a natural mineral and will be acted upon by nature at one time in its existing cycle. For that reason, manufacturers have to take into account there’s the possibility to lose this metal through natural decaying methods. Therefore, something has to be done to slow this process or avoid it completely.
One of the tried and tested options to accomplish this includes anodizing the metal. Anodized aluminum will last longer and offer better value for money to the client. But what does anodization entail? Read on.
Does Aluminum Need Corrosion Protection?
Well, aluminum is one of the most corrosion-resistant metals. But that doesn’t mean the metal cannot get corroded. For that reason, it’s important to protect the metal to eliminate any chances of corrosion.
Anodizing aluminum has its benefits. The reverse is true. If the metal is dispatched without the process, chances of the metal losing its quality faster with time increase. That can be avoided by making use of this electrochemical process.
Anodization is done in such a way that aluminum isn’t just covered but also engraved that you won’t have to deal with peeling in the future. That explains why most experienced manufacturing companies prefer this mode of finish compared to others.
While there are many reasons why you should anodize your aluminum parts, there are others why you shouldn’t. For instance, the process cost is high. Besides, it only works with specific grades of aluminum. That means the anodizing process may not be successful with other grades.
Those cons notwithstanding, anodizing aluminum remains an important finishing technique. It boosts the strength of the metal as well as enhances its corrosion resistance. Below are some more benefits of anodizing aluminum.
The benefits of Anodizing Aluminum Parts
- Easy maintenance
One of the hardest things to do for poorly done fixes is maintenance. Anodizing aluminum parts gives you a chance to change things. This makes it very easy to maintain the complex structures made out of aluminum.
Normally, one of the things that maintenance works to improve is to restore lost luster. With anodized aluminum, you only need water. Or, if stubborn, you could opt for mild detergents. If done correctly, your product will look brand new again.
This means lesser effort used and money spent in terms of maintenance costs. Besides, you won’t have to do this more often. For the few times, you’ll do this, be sure it will work.
You’ve seen what other finishing options lead to. For instance, the painting will likely peel off if exposed to too much cold. For aluminum, you won’t experience such things because of its finishing mechanism.
The electrochemical process penetrates to the core of the metal. For it not only forms a coating on top of the metal but also gets into the core of the metal. This entanglement means the coating cannot peel off. For that reason, the metal will keep its finishing for the longest time possible.
This feature also helps with UV sustenance. The metal will be protected from harmful UV rays. That means less destruction over time. If this protection goes on for a while, it then means that the product or Aluminum structure will last longer than that which was never anodized.
In industries like construction and marine, the base metal is of great significance. That explains why it must be well protected at all times. Anodizing helps to serve that purpose. The process ensures that the base metal is well shielded.
If this is not well done, the metal will over time start to weaken. In the long term, we may start to experience corrosion or collapsing buildings. This may not happen sooner, but will surely happen later because of the impact of continuous aggression by nature.
- Architectural options
When designing and constructing, you need options. That way, you’ll make the best designs for your client or yourself. Anodizing aluminum parts sets you up for options. From there, you can choose the best to go for. Without this electrochemical process, your options are limited to the core. When constructing, you’re forced to only go with the limited options. And that’s never a good thing at all.
That’s why experts advise that you anodize your aluminum. Doing this will give you the options you need to create a masterpiece. In the end, you’ll also have aesthetically appealing aluminum products.
- Environment friendly
Most manufacturing processes are very unfriendly to the environment. That may mean failing the compliance test with authority. In the end, you’ll end up losing licenses or being denied some.
Environment friendliness also appeals to some clients who are gearing towards helping the world become a better place. For the manufacturer, this will be a selling point. What that means is extra revenue and increased profits.
As far as individuals are concerned, you can be sure anodizing will help prevent the production of harmful emissions to the air. People can therefore live a healthier life, including you and me.
How is Aluminum Anodized?
Anodization is simply the formation of Aluminum oxide on top of the metal to keep the core shielded. This helps achieve three core mandates. They include longevity, decoration, and corrosion resistance. The Aluminum anodization process is quite simple with a few steps involved from start to the end. It also costs quite some money but the value you get in return is worth the investment.
The process begins with the metal’s immersion into an acid electrolyte. It’s important to note that the metal is soft and that makes the oxidation process quicker and more effective. You should also note that the oxide is stronger and more resistant than the actual metal.
After immersion, an electric current is passed through the solution. Inside the repository, there’s an anode and cathode to facilitate oxidation. The metal is the anode while a cathode is added to complete the oxidation process.
Once the current is released, oxygen ions also leave to oxidize the metal at the anode base. This happens in the presence of H20 and Sulfuric acid. This helps control the process and optimize the ion and metal combination to produce fine anodized Aluminum.
It doesn’t end there. Once the metal has been anodized, the products are immersed in a coloring bath. There, they’re turned into the color of the client’s choice. Some would like black while others prefer the metal’s natural silver color.
Types of Anodizing Finishes
Anodizing finishes come in different forms. There are several you could think about but four popular ones. These are the most commonly used and tend to give the best results. Besides, clients prefer them most of the time. Here are the types of anodizing finishes you must know about.
- Sulfuric Acid Anodization
This is one of the most widely used anodization options. It’s the most suitable for abrasive environments. Such hostile habitats aren’t the best for weak metals. And that explains why aluminum must be hardened further using Sulfuric acid.
Sulfuric acid anodization is the best at hardening and enhancing aluminum’s resistance to abrasion. But this option may not always be the best, especially in stressful environments. For example, Sulfuric acid anodized metals may not be the best for the construction of airplanes.
- Chromic Acid Anodization
The product of this anodization process is a gray matter. This option is best for providing a protective coating. It results in the thinnest coat. Definitely, not the best option for corrosive environments nor is it for abrasive habitats.
Not only that, the chromic acid anodized aluminum absorbs little color when immersed in dye. For that reason, products that result from this anodization option aren’t the best options for aesthetics. This is because of the products’ inability to keep color.
- Hard anodization
In this case, a hard coat is used to anodize aluminum. It’s a similar process to the Sulfuric acid option but this one is thicker. This option suits most electrical insulation and provides a shield for aluminum products exposed to high-level wear and tear components.
- Boric-Sulfuric Anodization
The chromic anodization option has an alternative and this is it. Three reasons make this a viable alternative. They include compliance to employee safety standards, environmental issues, and other health challenges. This one tends to be safer than chromic acid anodization. In terms of output, there isn’t much difference.
Most aircraft components are made using this option. These products are more energy-conservative and have similar or better paint adhesive qualities to the chrome acid anodization method.
Sometimes they’re used interchangeably. But the decision to settle for one and leave the other depends mostly on the desirable output.
There are more options. Each has a different impact on the environment as well as costs. Besides, the decision to choose one and leave the other depends on several factors including the conditions under which the final products will work.
Anodizing Finish Specifications and Quality Control
Quality control helps maintain quality standards in the manufacturing industry. By adhering to certain requirements, the manufacturers will continue to make products that give clients value for their money. At the same time, they will keep their staff safe as well as protect the environment from destruction. In the long run, there will be sustainability.
In most cases, two things are emphasized when it comes to quality control. This revolves around finishing and alloys.
Any unprotected aluminum surface must adhere to the AAMA 611 Standard. This policy dictates that sulfuric acid be used during the anodization process. It means that’s the best option for anodization. To determine this, staff safety, environmental issues, and other sustainability indicators have been considered.
Upon completion of the anodization process, the product must be fully sealed. Besides, there must be zero powdery substances on the surface of the products. Smut and any other blemish are also not allowed. If these standards are met, then the final product is ready for dispatch.
Certified aluminum manufacturers must use only alloys recommended for anodization. At the start of alloying and anodizing aluminum, there’s a specific goal to be achieved. That must be considered during the process until completion. In the end, it must be confirmed that the specifications have been met.
When it comes to alloying, several factors are considered. The color standards must be checked by either the ASTM or ISO certifying standards. Coating thickness and density are also a factor to look into as well as the seal integrity.
There are two ISO standards considered and that includes ISO 2360 and 3210. For ASTM standards, three quality controls are looked into, including, ASTM B244, B137, and B680. Once all these standards have been taken care of, the anodized product is good for supply. Clients can therefore procure as per their needs.
The client has a right to request proof of quality inspection. That makes the anodizing company responsible for the inspection for quality standards. This must be documented and well stored. The records could be asked for at any time by either the client or bodies mandated with the responsibility to ensure these standards are met.
Where is Anodized Aluminum Used?
Anodization is just part of the process. After completion, these anodized aluminum products are sent to clients according to the orders they submitted. These products are meant for different purposes. Here are some of the uses of anodized aluminum products.
Anodized aluminum can be painted and refined to look like anything. This gives manufacturers the power to create fine artwork. They can sell these products and get quick some fortune. Some construction geniuses use anodized aluminum to make beautiful ceilings.
- Commercial and residential building products
Anodized aluminum has several qualities that make it the best for the construction of commercial and residential buildings. The metal is strengthened through anodization and that gives it the power to carry weight and withstand pressure. Besides, wear and tear are common in these buildings. After anodization, not even such pressure is enough to wear and tear the metal. Unless poorly done, then corrosion may never happen in the lifetime of those who installed the metals.
- Motor vehicle parts
Moving cars get exposure to abrasion, corrosion, and wear. Therefore, components used to make these machines must be of great quality. Anodization helps accomplish this by increasing the parts’ corrosion and abrasion resistance. For that reason, these products last longer than you can imagine.
- Electrical appliances
Anodized aluminum is used to make electrical appliances. Electric kettles, television sets, and microwave among other appliances. Being non-magnetic, electrical appliances made of anodized aluminum can work without subjecting the handler to electric shocks. Besides, the material ensures the product lasts long.
- Exterior and interior décor
Architects and interior designers are also using anodized aluminum to make house interiors and exteriors look more beautiful. They skillfully do so by utilizing the metal’s shining attributes. This helps them leave a good impression both inside the house and outside.
- Food preparation equipment
There are many food preparation equipment made out of anodized aluminum. This is because the metal conducts heat well but isn’t magnetic. Therefore, the handler can get the food cooked and kept warm without being electrocuted.
Besides, the machines will work for a long without wear and tear that’s caused by constant heating and cooling. Also, this equipment will retain its clean look because aluminum’s softness allows easy cleaning without retaining tar.
Should You Anodize Your Aluminum Parts?
This is an interesting question that prompts one to dig deep into the benefits and disadvantages of anodizing aluminum parts. Upon comparing these two perspectives, it’s then possible to establish if anodizing Aluminum parts are the better option. Let’s compare and contrast possible scenarios of anodizing and not anodizing Aluminum parts.
There are several reasons why you should anodize Aluminum parts. We’ve already seen the benefits of anodization and the many applications where anodized Aluminum can be used. This explains many reasons why you should anodize Aluminum parts.
But there are other reasons why you shouldn’t anodize Aluminum parts. One of the reasons is that this process costs more. Some anodization methods are extremely expensive and will cost you quite some money.
For the client, these costs will be transferred to you. As a manufacturer, these costs mean you must work on your capacity to produce better quality. But comparing the benefits that come with anodizing and the shortcomings gives you more reason why you should anodize your Aluminum parts.
Another perspective to look at is the quality standards that must be met. It takes time and effort to achieve this compliance. This is true, especially for manufacturing companies.
There are costs involved in the quality assurance processes. To get personnel that ensures this is well done and consistently so is costly and demands competent human resources. This may be some of the reasons a few manufacturers don’t consider anodization. Budget constraints may hinder them!
Anodized aluminum increases the metal’s quality. It also makes it of better quality and this is the main reason you should anodize your Aluminum parts. It comes with countless benefits that deliver better value for money.
Can Materials Other Than Aluminum Be Anodized?
Anodization is important in decorating metal surfaces. It makes the products durable and corrosion-resistant. Although Aluminum is the best for anodization, it isn’t the only metal that can be anodized. Many other materials can be anodized. They include:
- Stainless steel
- Aluminum alloys
There are many other metallic and non-metallic materials that can be alloyed. In the end, you have a better quality product that delivers value for money. But there’s a reason why Aluminum is highly recommended for anodization.
One of the main reasons is the properties of the metals. First, Aluminum is soft and that makes it easier to anodize the metal. Besides, the metal’s shining properties make it possible to have better outcomes in terms of shine.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Aluminum Anodization
- Is Aluminum Anodization an environmental concern?
The answer is yes. Aluminum anodization is an environmental concern with the emissions harmful to the environment. The good news is that this is minimized by following the provisions of ISO standards regulating the anodization of Aluminum.
- Does painting work with Aluminum Anodization?
Anodization leaves the final product with pores. These allow the paint to soak in upon application. Before applying the paint, ensure that the Anodized Aluminum has been cleaned and dried.
Painting has benefits to the metal. After anodization, the metal is left with pores that can easily attract dust or dirt. Painting fills these pores and that keeps the metal in good shape and clean too.
- Does powder coating also work with Aluminum Anodization?
Powder coating is another alternative to painting. It’s a finishing technique that works well with Aluminum Anodization.
Expert’s Opinion on Sealing Anodized Al
Sealing is a requirement that must be met to achieve ISO and other quality standards. Experts opine that you seal anodized Aluminum and do so on time. They advise so because that affects the metal’s durability and functionality. Sealing can be done in various ways.
Temperature plays an important role in the sealing process. High, low, room and cold temperatures all have different results on the final product. Some temperatures may require additives to be effective. At the end of the day, it’s up to the manufacturer to advise the client on the best practices.
Aluminum anodization is an important electrochemical process that boosts the metal’s quality. But this has to be done diligently for the desired results to be achieved. Different manufacturers have varying capacities to anodize Aluminum. You should also demand proof of quality standards being met. That way, you can ascertain their track record. The choice of which anodizing option you’ll go for should also be well looked into. This is because different options give you varying results after all. That’s why you must be keen on what you accept from the manufacturer. Credible suppliers give the best to their clients and that’s what you must go for.