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Dishwasher-safe coloring of flatware

September 24, 2012

Q. I was reading up on coloring metal.
I want to color flatware, and am looking at steel/Aluminum. I started looking at PVD for steel, and then Teflon coatings ... nothing is really working out, PVD is too expensive, and Teflon will wear over time.

Aluminum has its own issues ... anodizing won't last in a dishwasher.

Anyway, I came across a posting (letter 42425) mentioning a nickel plating with colored lacquer as being a possible way to color steel. I doubt it would be food-safe though, but was wondering if you knew whether or not something like this had a good chance of being durable and dishwasher safe. I don't think many people would be placing the flatware in a lacquer thinner so I'm not worried about that.

Any other thoughts on how to get colored finishes on steel or aluminum that would be dishwasher safe? And I'm referring to reds/blues/greens/ pretty much the rainbow.

Ryan Wirth
- Lambertville, New Jersey

September 24, 2012

A. Hi Ryan. I don't think steel or aluminum will prove satisfactory for flatware. I think stainless steel or titanium with an anodized diffraction coloring might suit. If you think clunky could become chic, I'd look into porcelain enameling as it would easily meet all your needs.


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

November 21, 2012

Q. Hi Ted
Thanks for the response. I wanted to look into porcelain enamel more but would like to experiment at home with it. Do you or anyone else know how I can go about setting up a system for porcelain enameling at home?

Can I set up a spray booth and apply it like a powder coating? That would be ideal.

I have seen guns for it, but I can't find detailed info.
Any help would be great.

Ryan Wirth
- Lambertville, New Jersey, USA

November 25, 2012

A. Hi Ryan. General info should be available from the Porcelain Enamel Institute. I don't know much about the actual manufacturing technology, but understand it to be rather like melting glass onto the substrate, i.e., it requires really high temperatures (1400 -1600 ° F) to melt the ground frit onto your substrate.

Although I understand the appeal of hands-on learning, and controlling costs by doing the experimenting yourself, that does have the downside that you will inevitably meet failures without having the experience, equipment, or technical knowledge to know where the problem lies. It's fine to spend months experimenting if you are breaking new ground, but not if you are spending those years trying to re-invent a millennium-old process which jobshops have perfected over decades, and if you could have had samples made for $100 :-)


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

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