Perhaps the most commonly applied finish for aluminum machined parts is anodizing. But how do we decide if clear anodizing suits your project? This article is going to focus on class 1 (clear anodizing) and demonstrate when is the right time to choose clear anodizing for your project and why it is a good solution.
Different types of anodizing
Choosing the right surface finish for your project can be tricky and challenging given that there are numerous options available like anodizing and painting that seem to be similar in their functions.
Even when we narrow down the scope to anodizing, there are still three types of anodizing to choose from, namely type I (also called Chromic Acid Anodizing), type II (also called Sulfuric Acid Anodizing), and type III (also called Hard Anodizing or hard-coat anodizing) according to the Mil-A-8625 designation.
And if we look at anodizing from the perspective of colors, class 1 (clear anodizing) and class 2 (colored anodizing) are two commonly applied processes. It’s helpful to understand what the differences are so that we can find the best secondary surface finish for our projects.
What is clear anodizing?
Class I anodizing is also called clear anodizing (hereinafter called clear anodizing), which is a process aimed to make your aluminum parts more corrosion-resistant, durable, and attractive aesthetically.
Clear anodized aluminum is commonly used in an array of sectors, especially in the aerospace and medical field and it specifically refers to the aluminum part that has undergone anodizing process without dyes. People may assume that the anodizing process means the parts are clear but it is a misconception.
Conversely, it simply indicates the fact that a .0002-.0006 in. of coating is formed without a permanent color finish on the aluminum surface. In the rapid prototype manufacturing industry, clear anodizing is a common finishing and now let’s find out what the benefits are!
What are the benefits of clear anodized aluminum?
Clear anodized aluminum is one of the most popular options because of its many benefits.
Although a colored coating can be formed on the aluminum parts by dye anodizing to realize a decorative purpose, the colors from one batch to the next or even between different sheets are susceptible to variation.
On the contrary, clear anodizing has no such problem since it can display the natural finish of the substrate. Clear anodizing is an excellent choice for a large number of structural components.
Our team provides one-stop service from machining to bead-blasting and clear anodizing. With advanced technology, we now can make clear anodized aluminum with a consistent finish. You don’t need to worry about the color consistency because all of our customers speak highly of the quality.
Corrosion and abrasion resistant
Probably this is the major reason why we apply clear anodizing when considering a secondary surface finish. One customer contacted our team to make clear anodized aluminum parts for the last year.
The product is a sea drone that aims to rescue people who are drowning in the ocean. Because the end product will be exposed to an extreme environment like the sunlight, immense heat, wind and salt, clear anodizing is recommended to them and the client took our advice. This is due to the fact that the aluminum parts become resistant to wear and seawater does not rust or affect the parts in any way.
After the parts are complete on a CNC milling machine, bead-blasting and then clear anodizing are required to make the parts more durable and stronger. A salt-spray test is also included to assess the quality of salt spray corrosion resistance of the anodized aluminum parts. Such an example is not rare in the industrial, medical, and aerospace industries.
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Bright and attractive
Clear anodizing can be a really good choice if you are looking for a shimmery appearance with corrosion-resistant properties. By bathing the aluminum in a chemical wash tank, we can obtain attractive and bright aluminum parts because the process will create an electric charge, and then a thick oxide layer forms. It’s not just coating, it can actually permeate into the parts, which helps reveal the metallic nature of aluminum.
The advantage you have with anodizing is that you have a true metallic look and that’s why it’s bright and shimmery. Clear anodizing is translucent to almost transparent and provides a very firm coating on the aluminum parts at the same time. Before making up your mind on the surface finish, the thumb rule is to do some research on the looks of different finishing. Clear anodizing is suitable if you are seeking a metallic, bright, and shimmery appearance.
With people’s increasing awareness of environmental protection, industries now pay much more attention to the environmental influence caused by the materials. Painting is not recommendable when taking the environment into consideration because the painting itself is a hazardous waste and international environmental regulations keep increasing the requirements applicators must address.
Although more researches need to do to really know the environmental impact caused by clear anodizing, it is currently considered to be far less harmful. According to various studies, anodizing appears to be more compatible with today’s environmental appeals because the process doesn’t release ozone-producing solvents and no heavy metal is involved. To some extent, our clients tend to go for anodizing instead of painting when they require aluminum parts because of this reason.
Clear anodizing not only makes aluminum parts more durable, strong, bright, and attractive but also it’s fairly cost-effective.
If you are looking for a reliable rapid prototype manufacturer who can also take care of the second surface finishing (clear anodizing included), WayKen Rapid prototype is your right choice. When you reach out to us for a free quote and turn-around time, we will be happy to give guidance on the surface finishes we can provide in our shop.