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Color coating (anodizing) small parts for the hobbyist



I am a graduate student in organic chemistry, and while I have no background in surface chemistry, I'm eager to learn. Currently, I'm simply interested in color anodizing SMALL zinc and aluminum parts mainly for decoration. I realize these two substrates present very different problems, and currently I'm most interested in working with the zinc. I am looking for a good resource on NON-proprietary mixes. (From school) I have access to fume hoods, glassware, and a majority of the compounds most likely required for the process. Because I also like electronics, I do have access to small power supplies (~10A). Can you offer any help in getting started? Ideally a list of chemicals needed for coating specific colors is what I'm looking for, but anything will help! Thanks so much!

Michael Evans
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Forget the zinc anodizing, Michael. That's a much different process which involves very high voltage and is not safe for school; further it is not decorative or colorable anyway. You are probably thinking of anodizing of aluminum. You can anodize in 10 percent v/v sulfuric acid, dye the parts with fabric dye, and seal in boiling water. But realistically if you haven't the right equipment, the right chemistry, the requisite knowledge, any experience, or any books about anodizing, consider it practice :-)

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Hey, Thanks for the response anyway! I might still play around a bit and see what I can do. I'll have to go down to the (dreaded) library and see what I can dig up. I'm surprised I haven't found any good websites that offer tutorials. Well thanks again! Mike

Michael Evans
- Chapel Hill

You did not look far enough for home brew anodizing. There are at least three, by people that have had a modicum of success. There are a lot of other frustrated attempts to go with it. With the access to equipment that you appear to have, you should be able to get a fair result. A book on how the professionals do it is a lot better than a home set up web site for starters. This avoids some of the not quite totally true statements on the web. Quality is in the eye of the beholder also. Durability is another biggie that you can not see by just looking at it. A moderately cheap book is available from AESF by Grubbs and Montgomery. This is the absolute best beginner book on the market as they are not selling anything.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

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