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      05-19-2009, 09:03 AM   #1
phillegal
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Post Anodizing Aluminum Wheels

At my dad's business we frequently anodize aluminum parts in our plating tank. Supposedly (according to my dad haha), we have one of the coldest plating methods around (temps as low as 4C). The parts that come out of the tank have a black coating around them that is super hard, and bonded to the aluminum.

My question is, can this method be used to plate aluminum wheels? The color is very dark and uniform, and I feel the coating will last longer than painting, but am unsure of how it compares to powder coating. It certainly is easy as a DIY, all I have to do is stick the wheel in the tank for a couple of hours. However, most rims have some sort of clear coat on them (which would have to come off), or are an aluminum alloy, so the color may not be black, but a dark gray instead. I know that there are some engineers on here, as well as others with extensive knowledge so I am looking for some helpful info.

How much does powder coating typically cost, and has this already been done? I know that other companies use anodizing, but our process results in smaller pore size and a stronger coat. If I can make this work I am thinking of starting a little side "venture" and coat wheels as a service.

Here is an example of an anodized part:

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      05-19-2009, 09:31 AM   #2
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I don't know that I have ever seen anodized wheels? You would definitely have to strip the clear coating off the wheels first, and then strip the painted parts. Once you got down to raw aluminum, you could do it.

-Andy
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      05-19-2009, 11:42 AM   #3
phillegal
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After some quick research, anodizing seems to be a common practice. HRE uses anodizing for its black finishes. So I guess it can be done. Now I have to figure out a way to strip down clear coat cleanly.
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      05-19-2009, 01:36 PM   #4
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If I go with the RAC wheel (extensively discussed here in the forum in its own thread). My plan is to anodize the wheel. Anodizing is far more durable than paint or powder coat. It is ceramic - Al2O3. As a Mechanical Engineer I speced anodization on both cosmetic and structural parts.

The other cool thing about anodization is the variety of looks you can get based on surface prep, from a coarse brush, to fine brush to light or full polish, all look different when anodized. You can also combine various levels of polish with various acid etching before anodizing. Lots of cool combinations.

Some more details on anodizing: Hard anodizing is black or brown, never clear. Only regular anodize is clear (or a variety of colors). Regular anodize is very thin and more or less cosmetic with some wear protection. Hard anodize actually builds up a few mils (1/1000th of in inch) of thickness and is considerably harder and more wear resistance than regular anodize. In industry lingo regular is Type I (Chromic acid) or Type II (Sulfuric acid). Hard is Type III which is also Chromic.
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      05-19-2009, 01:46 PM   #5
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Good to know.

-Andy
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