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Anodizing- Bringing it in house?

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
My shop is for now and the foreseeable future a one man show. I make some stuff as products to sell and do contract work. Most everything I make to sell gets anodized. I have found getting stuff anodized to be a real problem. The first guy I used ruined about 30% of what I sent him. The outfit i currently send my parts to is a first class outfit and does a great job. The problem is they've gotten so busy that their turn around time is 2 months+. My volume is a few thousand golf ball sized parts a year. I'd to continue to add to that though with new product variants. I called another anodizer that I heard has good quality from a reliable source and they are to busy to take on new work. Another local shop has the same issues.


So, I'm thinking maybe it would be smart to start down the road of setting up to do this myself. Thinking I could for starters just do my stuff only. Pretty much just black is all I really need and would be good for 98% of what I need now.

I have a lean-to off the back of my shop. I would need to close in a bay or two of that for the space. Install some ventilation. This would all be DIY and would not happen quickly.

I looked at the Caswell 20 gallon starter kit and I think that would be a good size to get started with. I think I could do all of my parts with that. Most of what I see on anodizing, free internet info, is all hobby oriented. I'm really more after very small scale production. I can see getting setup and anodizing a few parts is pretty doable. How hard is it to maintain the baths over time, How hard is it to deal with the waste? Thinking maybe I could setup some sort of evaporator to evaporate it down so the waste I need to get rid of is minimal?

Anybody got some words of wisdom for doing this sort of thing? Crazy idea?
 
Last edited:

TDegenhart

Diamond
Joined
Mar 26, 2011
Location
Geneva Illinois USA
This has come up many times in the past, anodizing, plating etc. The advice was and probably still is that its not feasible. I haven't tried it, but many have and gave up on it. I will defer to them for why.

Tom
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
Yea I've searched and read some of these threads. One issue that I remember is isolation from machining. I realize it's an uphill battle but from what I can see there is a shortage of anodizers that are willing to handle work from small shops. One of the absolute worst things is sending parts to an anodizer only to have them ruined. Worse than bad. I realize it won't save money at least at first that's not the goal.
 

Plater47

Plastic
Joined
May 3, 2018
I run a plating and machine shop. Highly regulated. It's doable, but you better know what you're getting into. EPA doesn't mess around.

Feel free to message me with some more details and I'll answer any questions I can.
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
PM Sent, West Virginia!?, got to be a good guy!

I run a plating and machine shop. Highly regulated. It's doable, but you better know what you're getting into. EPA doesn't mess around.

Feel free to message me with some more details and I'll answer any questions I can.
 

mTeryk

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jul 4, 2010
Location
corvallis,or
Shop I used to work with set up to do their own anodizing and nickel plating in house. They got it up and running after I left so I don't have a lot of details but I do know that consistency of color and dimension from batch to batch has been an issue. They use it for small batch prototyping jobs where the 2-3-4 week turnaround plus $60 minimum order of their standard anodizing shop doesn't cut it. It has worked OK for this but I couldn't see the same inconsistencies being OK with a product line.
 

madmachinst

Stainless
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Location
Central FL
I am an extremely small hobby shop. In beginning anodizing myself was an absolute nightmare. Caswell's formulas for amperage didn't serve me well at all. Their dye has maybe helped improve my outcome, but alone by itself didn't work well. How did I come up with something that works? With a lot and I mean a lot of experimentation and wasted time. First and foremost invest in the best Ti wracking out there. Second I would say when you mix your chemicals in general, going above suggested concentrations is always highly suggested.
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
consistency of color and dimension from batch to batch has been an issue. They use it for small batch prototyping jobs where the 2-3-4 week turnaround plus $60 minimum order of their standard anodizing shop doesn't cut it. It has worked OK for this but I couldn't see the same inconsistencies being OK with a product line.

Color consistency has been a problem for me even from the shop I like. Not terrible but still the black varies slightly and more that I'd like.

And, imagine 8+ week turn around. I don't mind the minimum, I always have more than their minimum on an order.

I am an extremely small hobby shop. In beginning anodizing myself was an absolute nightmare. Caswell's formulas for amperage didn't serve me well at all. Their dye has maybe helped improve my outcome, but alone by itself didn't work well. How did I come up with something that works? With a lot and I mean a lot of experimentation and wasted time. First and foremost invest in the best Ti wracking out there. Second I would say when you mix your chemicals in general, going above suggested concentrations is always highly suggested.

I'm not real comfortable that Caswell is a good source for more than hobby oriented anodizing. Not sure.
 

barbter

Diamond
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Location
On Tour...
Silly Q....do you need anodise?
Can you run with a conversion coating ie non electric?
Just thinking it's WAAAAYYYYY easier to get set-up and going....
 

DavidScott

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Location
Washington
Silly Q....do you need anodise?
Can you run with a conversion coating ie non electric?
Just thinking it's WAAAAYYYYY easier to get set-up and going....
Such as? I am watching this thread as I too have the same needs, but mine are Type III. My experience with Chromate coatings is that they are totally useless for anything other than on-the-shelf cosmetics.
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
I don't know what a conversion coating is. I'm pretty happy with type II anodize when I can get it done right.

What I briefly read is that conversion coatings are not intended to be cosmetic. I need it to look good.

Also in the back of my mind I am thinking if I could get this working it would be an asset to the shop being able to make the parts and finish them under one roof.
 

barbter

Diamond
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Location
On Tour...
My suggestion was based upon not knowing anything about your business or what you make and what the Anodising is actually for.
Just spitballing options as setting up an anodise plant could be nightmareish....

Conversion coating is easy to do and requires no electricity - it is used for electrical conductivity and isn't as protective (corrosion resistant) as anodise.
To black anodise, you'll need Sulphuric.
But then there's electroless nickel too?
Or if you want black, there's black oxide (non-electrical, a Customer does this in house for some of their smaller product).
Or change the mtl to Stainless and remove the plating requirement altogether - I've done this before on a couple of parts which gave cost savings too.

Just thinking outloud....
 

BugRobotics

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 22, 2015
Location
Denver, CO
I set up an anodizing line at a former company because I was tired of getting screwed at the local outfits. Worked fine and it wasn't difficult just messy (in a few different ways). Get proper PPE, evacuate the fumes, keep the tanks covered when not in use, thoroughly clean parts before and rack them properly and you won't have any real issues until you have to dispose of the various baths due to contamination. Of course a good power supply, proper temp control etc is important as well. Just like anything else the details matter when you are chasing a particular finish.
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
Maintaining the various baths over time seems to me to be where the challenge is. Like keeping them in spec over time. I've been searching the net for articles related.

And this is a worry- need to figure out before:
until you have to dispose of the various baths due to contamination.

I suppose since the tanks are mostly heated ambient temp control, is not super important?

Are there any good sources of info beyond hobby type info anybody can suggest?

I've found a few:
Anodizing |
Products Finishing

World's #1 Metal Finishing Resource since 1989
Articles | anodizingtechnologie
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
"I suppose since the tanks are mostly heated ambient temp control, is not super important?"

I did a bit using caswell stuff a few years back, I forget the required temp but type II wanted to be cool, I had a tank in a tank of ice water and a single part would take the temp of say 40 degrees to 85, way out of spec. Cooling the solution is a big problem
 

Pete Deal

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Morgantown, WV
I forget the required temp but type II wanted to be cool, I had a tank in a tank of ice water and a single part would take the temp of say 40 degrees to 85, way out of spec. Cooling the solution is a big problem

I was just reading that in an article. So need a chiller for the anodize tank.
 

Dan from Oakland

Titanium
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
Location
Oakland, CA
Given the needed knowledge and the waste disposal issues and Hazmat requirements, spend your time looking for a reliable plating shop even if you have to ship parts.
Unless you enjoyed playing with your toy chemistry set when you were a kid, save yourself a ton of grief and find another hobby! Good luck!
 








 
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