What Exactly Is Anodizing?
If you’ve spent any time shopping our selection of gun parts online, you may have encountered some anodized products, such as one of our anodized upper and lower receivers. If you’ve never heard of anodization before or just don’t know what it is, you’re in luck. Today, we’re going to tackle the topic of anodizing, what exactly that means, how it works, and some fascinating and surprising examples.
A large portion of gun parts are forged in aircraft grade aluminum, which provides many benefits but also poses its own concerns. Aluminum may not rust as iron or steel will, but it is also not the strongest of metals, and it is still vulnerable to corrosion. The anodization process enhances the durability of aluminum, makes it harder, and coats it in a corrosion-resistant layer. Many gun parts offered online right here at Thunder Tactical are hardcoat anodized, meaning they receive the thickest anodize coating type.
How Is Anodizing Done & How Does It Work?
To anodize an aluminum or aluminum alloy product, the metal is submerged in an acid electrolyte bath and passed through an electric current. Inside the tank, a cathode (terminal where currents flow out) is mounted, and the aluminum part serves as the anode (positively charged electrode) within the circuit, allowing for the release of oxygen ions from the bath. These oxygen ions then combine with the aluminum to build, or grow, a natural oxide layer, which is hard, durable, and ideal for absorbing dyes and sealants.
Anodizing should not be confused with plating, where a metal surface is covered with a superficial coating. Whereas plated coatings sit on the surface of the metal, anodized coatings change the chemistry of the surface itself. The electrical surface created within the acid bath creates a controlled oxidation process, leaving the aluminum ready to be used in a wide variety of modern production processes from the manufacturing of automobiles and spacecraft to that of firearms and cookware.
Cool Facts About Anodized Aluminum
- Anodized aluminum keeps satellites safe from the severity of space.
- Anodized aluminum is used in skyscrapers worldwide, including Chicago’s Sears Tower.
- Anodization is safe according to FDA standards, uses no heavy metals, and produces no toxic waste.
- Some consider the hardness of anodized aluminum to be inferior only to that of diamonds.
- The strength and lightness of anodized aluminum made it ideal for Apple’s watches & phones.
- Applications include building construction, art and jewelry, spacecraft production, kitchen appliances, boats and motor vehicle components, interior decoration, etc.