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topic 24520p2

Anodizing of stainless steel

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A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020

October 18, 2017

Q. Hi,
I have a few pieces of 316Ti, and would like to combine it with some other material to create a pattern forge weld (Damascus), layering a piece of D6 on both sides with it, so the D6 becomes the core.

If I use either one of the following material (316, 3i6L or 310 with similar expansion coefficient to the 316Ti) as the second material with the 316Ti, Will it give me a significant contrast when anodized?

Or do you propose an alternative martial?

Your insight will be highly appreciated.

Hannes Coertzen
Hobbyist Knife Maker - Centurion, South Africa

October 2017

A. Hi Hannes. 316Ti is only about 5 parts per thousand Titanium so (without any actual experience with it) I wouldn't expect it to be significantly different than other 316 stainless steels, but it would be nice if a reader actually did have experience with it. I also have no experience in knife making, but understand that 3XX is not used for blades since it can't be hardened.

I'm not sure what anodizing of stainless steel has to do with your question. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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sidebar2 January 29, 2018

Q. I am wanting to develop a front skid plate for my vehicle. Aluminum is too soft in that if it hit the ground or a rock it dents too easily. I would like to make the skid plate out of stainless steel, but I am really wanting it to be black. This skid plate will undoubtedly get abused ... scratched, gouged, road grime, etc.
I am wondering if anodizing this stainless steel skid plate black, will it stay black under this type of abuse?

Karl Helser
- Portland, Oregon USA

January 2018

A. Hi Karl. Any coating, including stainless steel anodizing, will quickly scratch off. I'd suggest black powder coating or paint because it is easy to touch up.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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February 4, 2018

A. Hi Karl,

If this is made from stainless steel 400-series, like 420 or similar (surgical steel), it is possible to anodize it black and then special final treat it, so the black becomes as durable as hard anodized aluminum. We are working on similar treatment for 300-stainless steel, but not lucky yet.

Anna Berkovich
Russamer Lab
supporting advertiser 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
russamer labs banner

December 2018

A. Hi Anna. I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.

When you are off-roading and you misjudge the size of boulders vs. your road clearance, skid plates (which are optional equipment on most off-road vehicles), allow the whole weight of the car to 'skid' across the boulders on that plate instead of it ripping out the brake lines and other under-body equipment. As Karl says, it will get gouged; and I don't think any finish can maintain its color after gouging :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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sidebar2 July 11, 2018

Q. I have powder coated (black) steel posts that set on columns (5) on my house. The posts are welded onto flat powder coated black plates. The installer used large stainless steel bolts to attach to the columns.
He wants to paint the bolts black. I'm concerned I will be painting them every year. Would this anodizing process (black) work on these bolts? Would it decrease our maintenance concern? Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Tammy Murray
- LAFAYETTE, Indiana

July 2018

affil. link
Nut covers

A. Hi Tammy. If you can find black stainless steel bolts, whether anodized or blackened in a different fashion, they'd probably be okay. But getting a shop to anodize a handful of bolts might be expensive.

There are PVC or nylon caps or covers for nuts & bolts that might be more practical.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

July 20, 2018

thumbs up sign Thanks

Tammy Murray [returning]
- Lafayette, Indiana US

September 25, 2018

Q. I'm producing a stainless steel guitar pick, and I would like a shiny red finish (presumably shiny from polishing the pick before processing for color). I realize the due to use, virtually any process will wear off, but it only had to look good for a short time. What would be your recommendation please? Thank you.

MJ Klein
- Hukou township, Hsinch county, Taiwan

September 26, 2018

A. TiCN with PVD technique can give copper-ish (antique like) colour. Actual colour depends on Ti/C/N composition and other deposition conditions. Being a hard coating it could last for some reasonable time depending on usage. But there are many practical issues like pre cleaning, handling & manipulation of the wire in a vacuum chamber, quantity, etc.

H.R. Prabhkara
Bangalore Plasmatek - Bangalore, Karnatka, India

September 28, 2018

thumbs up sign  Thank you for your reply.

MJ Klein [returning]
- Hukou Township, Hsinchu County, Taiwan

September 29, 2018

A. If hard temper aluminum would work, it can be anodized and dyed to any color in the rainbow, and the anodizing would be fairly durable.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Side question: I see you are in Taiwan. Any relation to James Klein, ex GIT?

October 1, 2018

@Jeffrey Holmes, CEF, sorry I don't know who that is. My wife owns a manufacturing consortium here.


MJ Klein [returning]
- Hukou Township, Hsinchu County, Taiwan

October 27, 2018

Q. What is the electrochemical process of anodizing stainless steel to Golden color?

Sumit Poddar
BICYCLES - Ludhian, Punjab, India

October 2018

A. Hi Sumit. Please tell us your situation because abstract questions usually can't be well answered :-(

If you're doing a couple of custom bicycles, anodizing may be the way -- what grade of stainless do you want to anodize?

But if this is a production situation, are you sure that your interest is in anodizing stainless steel in a golden color? I think depositing titanium nitride on it in a PVD chamber is more common, more robust, far more authentic looking, and probably cheaper too  :-)

Get back to us please. Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

November 29, 2018

Q. Hello... I have a black "metal" Seiko watch band which I need a clasp for. If I buy a stainless steel clasp, can it be anodized to black to match the band?


Sue Drinker
Drinker Durrance Graphics - Carbondale, Colorado USA

December 2018

A. Hi Sue. Surely it can be done, but the issue will be the non-affordability of asking a shop to do a one-off job like this. A faucet washer is a 50¢ item but getting a plumber to replace it is not a $2 job. Similarly, a plating shop can anodize thousands of those items at a time at a unit cost of say 50¢, but doing one would be liable to cost $50 or more.

If you can find a jeweler specializing in Seiko watches, maybe he can find a black clasp for you. The originals are probably PVD coated rather than anodized.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

December 1, 2018

thumbs up sign  Thanks! I will try all other possible avenues, but rather than holding it together with a safety pin, I might not have any other options.

Sue Drinker
Drinker Durrance Graphics - Carbondale, CO USA

March 1, 2019

This question is for everyone on this board but I hope to get an answer from both Ted Mooney and Anna Berkovich.

I am in Michigan, looking for colorized stainless steel with "mirror finish" specifically, blue, green, purple, red and gold colors.

I would like to include this material and finishes on metal art/sculpture pieces.

What are my options? Anodizing or another process? (do not want to use aluminum - it must stainless steel)
Do you know any places I can buy samples from?

Thank you

Rich Anderson
Metal Artist - Lansing, Michigan

March 2019

A. Hi Rich. I'll alert Anna that you'd like her input, and hopefully other readers will chime in with technical comments. I am not aware of techniques other than anodizing, but you might search the site with the term "inco process stainless", and then use the same term on google.

Sorry, but we cannot suggest sourcing or brands beyond Prismatic Stainless Steel [from B&M Finishers, a supporting advertiser] and Russamer Lab [a supporting advertiser] (why?)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

March 2, 2019

A. It's going to be real difficult to have your stainless steel art anodized after you are done building it.

I suggest using transparent metal dyes instead.

Marvin Sevilla
- Managua Nicaragua

August 7, 2019

Q. Will anodizing 316 to a color/tint increase emissivity of the material?

Bruce Schram
- Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin USA

August 23, 2019

A. Bruce,
Anodizing is pretty rare for stainless. Not sure what you're trying to accomplish.

Nor do I come across that word too often, so let's check what property it refers to: "The emissivity of the surface of a material is its effectiveness in emitting energy as thermal radiation."

I'm going to go with, I rather doubt that anodizing would have any non-negligible effect on the emissivity of 316 stainless.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
stellar solutions banner

August 23, 2019

Q. Thanks Ray for the response. My customer requires 316 stainless enclosure for corrosion resistance in a food preparation application. The watts dissipated in both a brushed 316 enclosure (acceptable)and a painted 316 enclosure (unacceptable)have the same watt dissipation at the start. Conduction and convection properties remain the same for both. Under constant load and stabilized temperatures, the painted 316 enclosure will stabilize at a 15-20 °C lower temperature than the brushed 316. Since all other factors are the same, I can only assume that it is the result of the change in emissivity between 316 stainless (about 0.28 @ 24 °C) and the paint (about 0.91 @ 27 °C). Would anodized 316 provide the same emissivity of the painted enclosure and would it be as durable?

Bruce Schram [returning]
- Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin USA

September 3, 2019

So what you're saying is the layer of paint is acting as a thermal barrier or insulator, keeping the heat in too much?

Again, my educated guess is that an anodized surface would not be an appreciable thermal barrier. But again, I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish. As in, what's wrong with just a bare stainless steel surface, brushed, polished, or whatever?

Besides that, if you need to increase heat dissipation, you could build cooling fins into the structure.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
stellar solutions banner

October 13, 2019

Q. Hello,
I'm looking to produce 316 stainless steel jewelry. Is anodized coating on stainless steel (gold .8 microns or black) more or less durable than PVD?

Mel cozzens
People Preach - San Francisco, California

October 2019

A. Hi. My guess is you'll be happier with PVD coatings than anodizing if you want gold color.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Ed. note: This site has more than 60,000 topics, and is most valuable when each discussion stays on topic so relevant discussions can be easily found. So we moved Ms. Cozzens' follow up questions about gold plating, titanium nitride, etc., to topic 34692 rather than having this anodizing thread wander into those topics :-)

October 1, 2020

Q. Hello, can I anodize stainless steel 304 bolts with gold colour? If I can, what method can I use for my project at home? Which one is more costly between PVD and anodizing for stainless steel?

Ameer Asyraf
- Johor Malaysia

October 2020

A. Hi Ameer. I'm sorry that there are so many questions & answers about anodizing and coloring of stainless steel on this site that it can be time-consuming to find them :-)

Prismatic Stainless Steel [from B&M Finishers, a supporting advertiser] and Russamer Lab [a supporting advertiser], probably among others, offer proprietary solutions. For your "home project", Goran Budija offers one example of the chemical mix and process conditions in thread 33236, although I wouldn't use toxic, carcinogenic chromic acid in my home. You can search the web or for "Inco process" or "Inco coloring" for more detail on this.

The issue with PVD is that you need a specialized vacuum chamber which is at least a thousand times as costly as most hobbyists would entertain.

You probably think your question is simple and clear cut, but without knowing why you want to do what you want to do, how big the bolts are, how many, where they will be used, exactly what "tone" of gold you are looking for, etc., it is difficult to say whether there might be a third and better alternative. But I would suggest the online pamphlet "Colouring Stainless Steel" from Euro Inox as a great intro. Good luck.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

October 2, 2020

A. Try 50 gms phosphoric acid/ 1 lit water solution, 20 minutes immersion, boiling solution (according to patent US2521580A). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb Croatia

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