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Splash Anodizing Technique

Q. Being from an automated machining background, I know little on metal fab and coatings. I'm seeking input on the area of "splash anodizing" and its techniques. I'm not looking to compete with any products or anodizing houses, but to produce our product. I believe sending the work out is cost prohibitive but would definitely like to consider. We are introducing a new product line that will have the potential high volume (1k to 7.5k) per day of short batch runs (50 to 250). Our parts are flat, under 8" sq., 250" thick aluminum. Each batch will need a custom splash/color anodizing.

Burke Mitchell
automation - Detroit, Michigan


thumbs up signHi Burke,

There are companies that do some incredible splash anodizing. I've seen it and myself wondered how it was done. They do some really interesting work and I have to admit, it impressed me to the point where I wanted to order one of their splash anodized clocks just to put it on my desk and say its anodized aluminum (of course I wouldn't take credit for it, I'd have 100's wanting paintball guns done then. smiley face).

Matthew Stiltner
plating company - Toledo, Ohio


A1. Anodizing is a relatively simple process, and if you do a web search for 'anodizing aluminum' you should find a few sites with the full details on the basics. To do splash:

Anodize as normal.

Dye the lighter color first (the whole piece)

Mask off the area you want to keep the lighter color using rubber cement (use a lot, it makes peeling it up easier.)

Dye the darker color.

Remove the rubber cement by rubbing it with your fingers, or a rubber-palmed glove. Clean with acetone [on eBay or Amazon affil link] to remove remnants of the rubber cement.

Seal as normal. (Nickel acetate sealant.)

Good luck!

Gene Temple
- Forest Grove, Oregon

A2. Splash anodise is done using different colored printing inks.
Anodise as normal and then dry out; then dribble on one color, then another and as many as you like; then dye completely then apply the dark color then remove the excess ink by soaking in a solvent then seal in a nickel acetate solution.

stephen bishop
- sandhurst berkshire uk
October 29, 2010

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

Anodising lightning bolts or other designs in 6061


Dear sir,

I have a small custom paintball gun workshop, where I do custom color anodising on 6061 aluminum using organic based dyes. Many of my customers have come to me to do more. Is there any way I can anodize ( ie. lightning bolts ) shapes or other decorations into the main body of color?

Doug McClain
- Ft. Myers, Florida, U.S.A.

Splash, multicolor, or adding graphics into anodized coatings is done often - we do it here, BUT, the knowledge is proprietary & I doubt someone would just tell you how to do it.

David A. Kraft
- Long Island City, New York


In all honesty, despite what anyone will tell you, splash and multi-color anodizing is not some "piece of cake".

Dave had it right, in the sense that the knowledge is a well guarded secret, but, it'qs not a mystery in that regard.

There are two ways that I know of to achieve such a thing.

Resistance inks similar to those used in nameplate processing and manual masking and multi-anodizing the part. By that I mean, lets say for example you have the gun barrel, its 12" long. You want your base color a blue, and your lightning bolt...lets say gold.

You'd have to anodize the part either of two ways. You could either anodize the entire surface gold first, then paint on your design into the part with a resist or maskant that would be your design. Strip the remainder of the part that is showing, and subsequently anodize in blue to get your "base color" on the part. Then remove your resist and you should have a two color part. Its not going to have that beautiful, gradual fade appearance, but it should do what you want.

Second way would be the reverse the process, anodize in blue first, then mask off the entire part EXCEPT the lightning bolt pattern, then strip and anodize the part, dye gold, and voila. Same result in the end. After doing this you could finish the anodize, seal the part and lightly (and I do mean lightly here) buff the finish to a brighter surface finish with your standard low HP (1/8 or lower, nothing fast, it'll only damage the finish) buffers. End result, should be for the most part a reasonably good looking part.

But remember, there are techniques outside of the one I discussed, this is just the most basic method of doing such a thing. ITs time consuming and sometimes a real "shot in the dark" kind of job. Its up to you whether to do it, but in all my years of anodizing, I still don't wanna touch that kind of stuff, too much work never enough money and 9 out of 10 times, the customer is never happy with something so custom because they expect it to be like a ink printed photograph and its not necessarily going to appear that way. But thats the way most consumers are, I love em for that :)

Matthew Stiltner
plating company - Toledo, Ohio

Multiple threads were merged: please forgive repetition, chronology errors, or disrespect towards other postings [they weren't on the same page] :-)

Help on multicolor anodizing

Q. Hi everyone!

In Sweden there is no one who offers multicolor anodizing. I would like to get information on how to perform this kind if anodizing and if there is any company who offers a complete method. I would really appreciate if anyone could help me with this!

Henrik Hugosson
- Sweden

A. Hi Henrik. You might be looking for what we call "splash anodizing".

As for how to do it, it's still somewhat confidential at this point, but get what you can from the answers above, also see letter #1356, and look on some of the paintball gun websites. Good luck.

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

Q. I have a small sample of anodized aluminum extruded profile, 40 mm wide, used for flooring, with the visible upper convex surface decorated with mixed colours and pattern, whereas the lower surface is matte anodized. Unfortunately I do not know how to send a photo to this forum for you to visualize the sample. What I would like to know is how that special anodized finish is obtained. Any advise highly appreciated.

Aluminium Anodizing Mgr. - Istanbul, Turkey

A. This is called 'splash anodizing'. It is also used on flashlights and other items; but to see dozens of examples, look up 'paint ball guns' with a search engine. There are a few answers above about splash anodizing that give some hints about how to do it, but people who have developed the best examples are not revealing their complete details yet.

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

Splash Anodizing, How? Who? Where?

Q. I am interested in having some paintball guns splash anodized and would like to know where I can find information on this technique. How is it done? What equipment is required? What are the costs involved? Can I set-up in a small shop? Is there anyone in Southern Ontario who does it? Any information on this process would be helpful.

Thank you.

Shane Mussche
- Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

A. You should go to google and type in "paintball marker anodizing". That should find your answer.

Ronald Higgins
- Sumter, South Carolina

Q. I would like to know different tactics on how to do splash anodizing. If anyone has suggestions on how to do this process, it would be greatly appreciated.

Tom Thomsen
- Upland, California United States

A. Tom, There have been several letters to this site (above yours) asking the same thing. I have one word for you ... Proprietary. [Beyond what you've read here] sorry, no one that's doing that is giving away their secrets at this point in time

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

A. Exactly. The fine details are held as trade secrets. There are good hints about the generalities here and on letter 1356 though.

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

Splash anodizing paintball guns

Q. I would like to know how to splash anodize aluminum, I am planning on doing it to an already anodized paintball gun.

Rye Nienke
- Windsor, Colorado, United States

A. Companies spend 10s of 1000s of dollars developing these sweet-looking coatings, and you won't find the info freely distributed here. Take my advice, if you want it to look good, spend $100 or so (it will be cheaper for you to do this, then to try and coat it yourself, and the results will be 10 times better), and send it to a professional...its well worth it. I believe you'll probably find several coaters listed in a paintball gun magazine, or.. check the WWW, as I know they can be found there, along with pricing info.

Marc Green
Marc Green
anodizer - Boise, Idaho

A. What colors are you thinking of attaining on your gun? I have done this before but to get the right look you must dye in the right order.

Chad Autry
- Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

How to get a "fade" when dying anodizing

Q. I was curious if anyone could inform me as to how one "masks" the aluminum when anodizing. I would like to know how the aluminum is "masked" to create a fade of colors or a splash of different colors. Thank you in advance

Ken T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Massachusetts

A. Hi, Ken. True masking is done with lacquers, waxes, and tapes that keep the solutions from getting to certain areas. But the fade-aways of splash anodizing are done differently, and it is a newer technique that tends to include some trade secrets as well as generic knowledge. But I understand that the usual techniques include a light dyeing all over in in one color, not too different from dyeing an Easter egg, followed by secondary dyeing -- sometimes even with dyes that float on the surface like water transfer printing.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 25, 2009

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