Of all kinds of metal in use today, aluminium has become a vital cornerstone in the fabrication, metalworking, and welding industries. Using it for welding can be a challenge because some rules that apply to mild steel do not apply to aluminium. There are some factors to be considered when selecting a filler alloy and welders should consider whether the part will be given to professional anodisers to enhance its properties and meet specifications. Anodising works by immersing the aluminium in an acid electrolyte bath where an electrical current is passed through, creating a coating of aluminium oxide and thus creating an extra durable layer for the aluminium under it.
Some metals can be made even better through a simple process called anodisation. When you anodise metal, you increase the thickness of the oxide layer on the base metal, thus giving it a number of advantages such as: increased corrosion and wear resistance, increased lubricity by reducing friction, improved adhesion, and decreased galling of threaded components, among others. The most common anodised metal is aluminium, but other metals such as zinc, zirconium, magnesium, hafnium, tantalum, and titanium can also benefit from the process.
The anodisation process involves dipping the metal into a bath that contains an acid electrolyte and cathode. An electric current passes through the acid bath and the metal becomes the anode, which is where the process gets its name. The electric current prompts an oxide to form on the surface of the anode and from the acid, oxygen ions emanate.
You might have not heard it yet, since it’s a purely technical industrial term: anodising metals. Then at first, anyone is highly likely to ask: “What is it, and why is it brought up?” There’s actually one simple-yet-perfect example for it: Apple’s iPad Mini. If you take a look at its backside, you see a shiny, lustrous patina that protects the device’s metal surface. While it may look like some inexpensive sealant coat, it actually is a different one—it’s not put there, but rather “grown” there via anodisation.
Any person would typically find it hard to comprehend that something could be “grown” on a surface that isn’t organic at all; however, the usage of the term “grown” is in an entirely different context: an industrial one, to be exact. That being said, let’s go a bit deeper into the anodising process.
In the industrial landscape, the process of metal polishing and finishing is something one would easily compare to a creed. It’s been around for so long and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. While a bit overlooked by some, it has a place in almost every imaginable setting—from the display gallery of a jeweller, to the factory of a decoration and/or household tools manufacturer. It doesn’t matter which industry one chooses to look at; bare, untreated metal rarely reaches the consumer’s doorstep.
Professional metal finishing isn’t a one-dimensional process, though. While its benefits encompass most types of metals—enhanced durability, aesthetic appeal, electrical conductivity; chemical, electrical, and tarnish resistance, and vulcanisation potential—certain types of finishing apply to different kinds of situations and kinds of metals. The following are some of the most common.
The metal finishes of anodised metal products gave them the versatility to be utilised in different industries from electrical to automobile manufacturing. Anodised aluminium, meanwhile, with their stronger and attractive metal finish are now more suitable for interior uses like furniture designs and window frames. Other than anodising, aluminium products may also be applied with metal polishing techniques for further refinement and protection.
It helps to consult with experts when it comes to polishing aluminium products to ensure high quality and they could even advise you on proper maintenance. Companies like Badger Anodising (Birmingham) Ltd. offer different kinds of polishing procedures to create a smoother and durable surface on metal products. In fact, these companies employ a team of experienced technicians to guide customers and manufacturers on the proper treatment(s) to be used.
From cookware to metal works, aluminium has been widely used and refined because of its durable and lightweight nature. Being an abundant metal with low density also helps manufacturers and metal suppliers transform it into useful chemical, electrical, and metallic products. To make aluminium goods stronger and visually appealing, most companies prefer to use metal finishing and polishing techniques for their products.
The strength and visual appeal of anodised aluminium products encouraged companies to find other possible uses for it like in manufacturing furniture, jewellery-making, and even artwork. A commonly used metal finishing, anodising is an electrochemical treatment of aluminium surfaces to toughen its outer layer into a more functional and long-lasting metal finish. This process is relatively environment-friendly because it enables metal products to become more resilient and reusable.