plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Achieving polished, durable finishes on 6061 Aluminum
December 25, 2008
I'm going to be manufacturing some guitars that have bodies made from 6061 Aluminum. I need to offer a range of colors for the bodies. With the current prototype (6061 Al) we had the body chrome plated, and the appearance is excellent, and this is definitely one option we will be offering.
I'd also like to offer different colors for the body. I'm familiar with the "brushed" look that is typically achieved with anodizing, but I'd rather be able to offer a "glossy" look.
I have a small aluminum key fob made from aluminum that has a very attractive black glossy finish, which was then engraved. I could be wrong, but to me it doesn't appear to be a paint or powder coat. It has a very smooth glassy feeling to your fingers compared to "brushed" type anodized surfaces.
Could this have been first highly polished and then black anodized? Or could it have been black anodized and then clear coated? Or is there a different plating treatment that will give aluminum a glossy black finish?
Can you achieve other colors through plating or anodizing that also have a glossy finish on Al?
Design Engineer - Brisbane, California
December 29, 2008
Hi, Paul. Aluminum does not have to be brushed prior to anodizing, it can be polished or bright dipped, then anodized, dyed, and sealed. It will not match chromium plating in brightness, but it can certainly be quite glossy rather than matte. 6061 is not quite as good for this as purer aluminum, but is much better than 2xxx or 7xxx, and there is a good chance you will be satisfied.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 31, 2008
Thanks for that advice Ted, I've got a local anodizer that has done some nice work for me on brushed aluminum parts, so I'll take some sample parts to him and see what he can do for me.
- Brisbane, California