Anodizing

Oxidation that protects metals

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What is anodic oxidation?

Anodic oxidation is a surface finishing treatment consisting of the formation of a thin oxide layer on the surface of the material. The oxide layer, obtained through an irreversible electrochemical process, improves the mechanical surface characteristics of the material and prevents corrosion.

The oxide layer that is formed is grey in color, but similar color effects can be achieved by adding organic pigments. Since the oxide layer is very porous, these pigments can adhere to the aluminum very easily, ensuring aesthetically pleasing results that are impossible to achieve with other treatments.

The number of color variants increases with the combination of pre-treatments, such as brightening or chemical satin-finishing, which give the workpiece a shiny or matt effect respectively. In addition to coloring the aluminum, the anodizing treatment serves to increase corrosion resistance, surface hardness, improve lubrication and enhance adhesion.

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How the anodizing process takes place

Depending on the thickness of the treated layer, there are two types of anodizing.

  • Thin anodic oxidation: involves an oxide layer 5 μm to 25 μm thick and is usually a surface protection and aesthetic finishing treatment.
  • Thick anodizing: involves a thicker oxide layer, between 13 and 150 μm. Hard anodizing is able to give better mechanical properties to the material, such as resistance to wear, corrosion and the ability to retain lubricants and PTFE coatings.

 The thickness of the oxide layer depends on a number of factors such as treatment time and current intensity, which, when properly balanced, can produce different results.

Parameters such as roughness by means of a roughness meter, thickness by means of a magnetic micrometer, hardness by means of a micro-hardness meter and fastening quality by means of a drop test can be entered in ad hoc test certificates drawn up according to the specific requirements of the parts being processed.

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