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Anodizing is a process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the outer layer of metal parts. The process is called anodizing because the part that will be treated, forms the anode electrode of an electrical circuit. Anodizing increases resistance to corrosion and wear, and allows paint primers better adhesion, and glues better than the bare metal. Anodic films can also be used for a number of cosmetic effects, either with thick porous coatings that can absorb dyes or with thin transparent coatings that add interference effects to reflected light.
Much of the metal around us is anodized. It’s a popular treatment for metals like aluminum and titanium, that makes the materials both great looking and protects them from day-to-day treatment. While it might seem like a form of painting, it’s actually a very different and very interesting process. Anodizing changes the microscopic texture of the surface and changes the crystal structure of the metal near the surface. Thick coatings are normally porous, so a sealing process is often needed to achieve corrosion resistance. Anodized aluminium surfaces, for example, are harder than aluminium but have low to moderate wear resistance that can be improved with increasing thickness or by applying suitable sealing substances. Anodic films are generally much stronger and more adherent than most types of paint and metal plating, but also more brittle. This makes them less likely to crack and peel from aging and wear, but more susceptible to cracking from thermal stress.
In addition to aluminum and titanium, other anodized metals are tantalum, zinc, and magnesium. For example, Apple’s MacBook Pro is anodized aluminum, as are the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. And if you’re a student of the history of mountain biking then you must be familiar with anodizing, such as the Ringle stem above, which is famous for its use of “3D violet”. And if you are a car lover you’ve surely seen high-end, aftermarket car wheels which utilize anodized magnesium, which is lightweight, super strong, and stands up well to the tough conditions encountered when so close to the payment.
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