The Aluminum Anodizing Process
Pre-Treatment: Cleaning is done in a non-etching, alkaline detergent heated to approximately 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This process removes accumulated contaminants and light oils.
Rinsing: Multiple rinses, some using strictly de-ionized water, follow each process step.
Etching (Chemical Milling): Etching in caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) prepares the aluminum for anodizing by chemically removing a thin layer of aluminum. This alkaline bath gives the aluminum surface a matte appearance.
Desmutting: Rinsing in an acidic solution removes unwanted surface alloy constituent particles not removed by the etching process.
Anodizing: Aluminum is immersed in a tank containing an electrolyte having a 15% sulfuric acid concentration. Electric current is passed through the electrolyte and the aluminum is made the anode in this electrolytic cell; the tank is the cathode. Voltage applied across the anode and cathode causes negatively charged anions to migrate to the anode where the oxygen in the anions combines with the aluminum to form aluminum oxide (Al2O3).
Coloring: Anodic films are well suited to a variety of coloring methods including absorptive dyeing, both organic and inorganic dyestuffs, and electrolytic coloring, both the Sandocolor® and Anolok® processes.
Sealing: In all the anodizing process, the proper sealing of the porous oxide coating is absolutely essential to the satisfactory performance of the coating. The pores must be rendered nonabsorbent to provide maximum resistance to corrosion and stains. This is accomplished through a hydrothermal treatment in proprietary chemical baths or by capping the pores via the precipitation of metal salts in the pore openings.
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