Anodizing is a popular method for treating aluminum products. This process improves the mechanical properties, corrosion resistance, and aesthetics of products. However, you might be curious about the costs associated with anodizing aluminum parts. 

Anodized aluminum cost depends on several factors, ranging from the aluminum anodizing type you’re using to coating thickness, part dimension, and more. Once you’ve established these factors, you can estimate the correct aluminum anodizing cost. 

In this discussion, we aim to address a common question: How much does it cost to anodize aluminum? We’ll outline the variables influencing the cost of anodized aluminum and provide guidance on navigating the process.

How Much Does Anodizing Aluminum Cost? 

Anodized aluminum cost may range from $65 to $125 for Type II, limited to colors already available with your anodizer, like clear or black. Bulk anodizing is more cost-effective. For instance, small electronic mounts may cost around $2 per unit for quantities of 200 or more.

What is anodized aluminum cost
What is anodized aluminum cost

Type III hard-coat anodizing may be costlier and have a longer cycle time. To determine anodizing costs, identify the anodizing process, quantity of components, and component dimensions. Factors like lead time, minimum order quantity, and pre-processing requirements like bead blasting can impact costs.

Consider a black anodized aluminum component with a minimum thickness of 15 microns for a sample. Anodizing costs depend on quantity and lead times. 

  • For a 1-off production of such a component, the cost is approximately $125, with a lead time of 6-7 business days.
  • If you opt for 2-off units, each will be priced at $60, and the production time remains at 6-7 business days.
  • A batch of 5-off components is available at $24 per item, with a 6-7 business day lead time.
  • For a quantity of 10-off, the cost per item decreases to $12, and the production time remains at 6-7 business days.
  • Ordering 20-off units lowers the cost further to $10 per item, with the same 6-7 business day lead time.
  • Larger quantities, such as 50-off, are priced at $4 per item, and the production time is 6-7 business days.
  • The cost per item for 100-off units is $2.80, with a 6-7 business days lead time.
  • Similarly, for 200-off units, the cost per item is reduced to $2.50, and the lead time remains at 6-7 business days.
  • Larger quantities, like 500-off units, are priced at $2.20 per item, with a slightly extended lead time of 7-10 business days.
  • For the highest quantity listed, 1,000-off units, the cost per item is $1.95, and the lead time is 7-10 business days.

After considering all variables, small component anodizing typically costs between $125 and just under $2.00 per item. This depends on size, order quantity, and the chosen process.

What Are the Factors Affecting Anodized Aluminum Cost?

Anodizing is often the favored option to achieve optimal surface finish for aluminum parts. However, the decision depends on the cost of anodizing the required aluminum parts. The following factor influences the cost of anodizing aluminum parts.

Anodizing Type Needed

There are three types of anodizing techniques you can use for your project. Let’s briefly look at them. 

Aluminum anodizing process
Aluminum anodizing process
  • Type 1 anodizing, also known as the “light” type, involves placing aluminum in a tank with chromic acid, where the aluminum acts as the anode. Current passing through the chromic acid causes positive aluminum particles to leave the surface, creating microscopic grooves. When oxidized, these grooves form the oxide layer. Type 1 anodized aluminum parts exhibit increased heat and corrosion resistance compared to unoxidized aluminum.
  • Type 2 anodizing is similar to Type 1. The key difference is the use of sulfuric acid instead of chromic acid. This substitution results in deeper grooves and a thicker oxide layer. Type 2 aluminum parts have enhanced paint retention due to their deeper and easily fillable grooves.
  • Type 3 anodizing, also called hard anodizing, involves higher voltage and uses a robust acid, sulfuric acid. This type is suitable for creating heavy-wear parts.

The selection of any of these types significantly influences the aluminum anodizing cost. Among the three, Type 1 anodizing is the most economical. This is attributed to the use of inexpensive materials, such as chromic acid, and lower energy consumption. 

On the other hand, the aluminum anodizing cost increases with Type 3. The higher cost is due to using more expensive materials, such as sulfuric acid, instead of chromic acid. It also has a higher energy consumption. Generally, the higher the anodizing type, the greater the anodizing aluminum cost.

Size and Quantity of Component

The chosen material dimension significantly influences the cost of anodizing aluminum parts. A larger size results in a greater surface area. Such surface area requires more materials and facilities for a successful process. 

Large anodized aluminum parts
Large anodized aluminum parts

Additionally, an increase in the number of components leads to higher labor and time requirements. As a result, it directly impacts the anodize aluminum cost.

Possibilities for Racking

Racking is a crucial process that manages the workflow and ensures a secure electrical connection throughout the various stages. Types of racking include clamp, weld, and bolt racking. This process ensures quality and significantly influences the aluminum anodizing service cost. 

In cases where there is no specified method, manufacturers opt for a cost-effective approach to maximize yield while minimizing costs. Specific racking needs may limit the number of parts processed at once. This potentially leads to an increase in cost per part.

Coating Thickness

This refers to the thickness of the oxide layer on the surface of an aluminum part. It is a critical factor in determining the aluminum anodizing cost. Opting for a basic thickness is the most cost-effective choice. The impact of coating thickness on the anodized aluminum finish cost may not align with common expectations. 

Thinner or narrower coatings are often more expensive than thicker ones. For instance, a thickness of +/- .001″ is less costly than +/- .0001″ because it is easier to control a thicker oxide layer. Achieving this level of control demands experience and professionalism, directly contributing to a higher anodizing cost.

Required Anodized Aluminum Color

The specific requirements for the color can play a role in determining the overall cost of the anodizing process. Different anodized aluminum colors may involve varying materials and processes, which can impact overall costs. 

Different anodized aluminum colors
Different anodized aluminum colors

Generally, standard colors may be more cost effective because they often require less specialized materials and are part of regular production runs. On the other hand, custom or unique colors involve additional steps, materials, or adjustments to achieve the desired hue. This potentially increases the cost of anodized aluminum. 

Additional Post-processing Services

Customers seeking additional processes to enhance efficiency or improve the aesthetics of products should know that these enhancements come at an additional cost. Services such as plugging or masking holes involve extra labor and time. While these extra services add value, they also contribute to the overall cost of anodizing aluminum.

Tips for Creating High-Quality Anodized Aluminum Parts

The anodizing process may seem a bit complex, but it’s not. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the process.

Source the Right Materials

Various aluminum alloys
Various aluminum alloys

Understanding the specific alloy is essential. The chosen aluminum alloy significantly influences the outcome of anodizing. Different alloys have varying compositions, affecting the anodizing process differently. For instance, 6061 aluminum is popular due to its quality, surface integrity, environmental resistance, and workability.

Once the right alloy is selected, it’s important to use similar parts consistently. Suppliers may have multiple types in their inventory. The quality of both primary and secondary inventory and the production method greatly impact the final product after anodization.

Don’t Ignore Chemistry

Ensuring high-quality and dependable outcomes in the anodizing process involves precise control of the scientific aspects in each step. The anodizing method encompasses multiple stages: cleaning, etching (pretreatment), anodizing, sealing, and rinsing between steps.

Critical control measures for each stage include monitoring concentration, pH, time, and temperature. While chemical suppliers specify parameter ranges for each substance, anodizers must research and test different conditions to identify the optimal range. This can be facilitated with consultations with experts in the field like ZINTILON.

Control the Anodizing Tank

Factors such as anodizing temperature, time, stirring, and the quality of the cathode in the tank are crucial elements. These factors significantly impact the outcome of the coating on the part during the anodizing process. 

Anodizing tank setup
Anodizing tank setup

Effective anodizing technology necessitates careful control of the tank and has a clear objective of achieving a stable, high-quality coating. Beyond the specified chemicals in the tank, regular adjustments to the rectifier (power supply) are crucial.

Ensure Proper Surface Treatment

Anodizing differs from other finishing processes. It is essential to adequately prepare each part of the aluminum surface for anodization. Proper treatment and maintenance of aluminum components are necessary to ensure predictable results during the anodizing process.

Failure to remove oils, debris, and fingerprints can result in finishing problems. Inspecting materials and ensuring the removal of these contaminants is crucial to enhance the likelihood of success.

How To Outsource Your Aluminum Anodizing Project

When outsourcing an aluminum anodizing project, you must consider several key factors for a successful and cost-effective collaboration.

Outsourcing aluminum anodizing project
Outsourcing aluminum anodizing project

Lead Times

Communicate your project deadlines and expected delivery dates to the manufacturing partner. Understand their typical lead times for similar projects and ensure alignment with your project’s timeline. Additionally, inquire about their flexibility in accommodating rush orders or adjusting the schedule if needed.

Minimum Order Quantity

Understand the company’s minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirements. Assess whether your project meets the MOQ criteria and discuss potential adjustments. Negotiate terms that align with your project size and budget, fostering a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Standard Colors Offered

Inquire about the range of standard colors available for anodizing. Ensure your potential partner can provide the specific color options your project requires. It is also crucial to discuss any customization options and potential additional costs associated with non-standard colors.

Coating Thickness Offered

Check the anodizer’s capabilities in offering different coating thickness options. Communicate your project’s coating thickness requirements and confirm they can meet these specifications. Discuss the implications of different coating thicknesses on the project’s overall performance and durability.

Cost

You must also discuss the overall cost structure, including anodizing fees, setup charges, and any potential additional costs. Your potential partner must be transparent in anodizing pricing to avoid hidden fees or unexpected charges. Explore opportunities for anodized aluminum cost savings and adjust the project scope to meet budget constraints.

Conclusion

Anodizing is an effective way of refining aluminum part surfaces. While you will get top results from this process, you must consider the costs and factors that may affect the outcome. This article delves into the expenses associated with anodizing aluminum parts.

Prioritizing value over cost is crucial. Avoid compromising quality for lower expenses, and consider placing your next order for aluminum anodized components through ZINTILON. Our experts provide top-notch aluminum anodizing services with short lead times and fast quotations. 

Are you concerned about aluminum anodizing costs? Rest assured, we offer cost-effective solutions without compromising quality. Feel free to contact ZINTILON for access to the best surface finishing services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to tell if aluminum is anodized?

Anodized aluminum exhibits a distinct appearance compared to raw aluminum. It often presents a less reflective, matte finish. When in its natural state, anodized aluminum appears as a bright new silver color. Additionally, customization options include selecting textures like brushed, stucco, or pebble tones to impart a unique look and feel to the product.

You can also identify anodized aluminum by testing the surface’s conductivity with a digital multimeter. If the part lacks an anodized coating, it will likely show conductivity with very low resistance.

How to remove anodized aluminum?

The primary method for removing anodizing from aluminum involves the use of chemicals. Different types of anodized aluminum may require specific chemicals for effective coating removal. For instance, sulfuric acid-based anodizing can be eliminated using items like vinegar or baking soda. On the other hand, chromic acid-based anodizing demands more caustic substances, such as phosphoric acid or a chromic acid solution.

For those uncomfortable with chemical methods, an alternative is electrochemical etching. This process uses electric current instead of chemicals to break down the oxide layer on the metal’s surface. 

What is hard anodized aluminum?

Hard anodizing, also known as hard coat anodizing, enhances aluminum by creating a dense aluminum oxide coating on the metal surface through the process of electrolysis. In the hard anodizing process, elements of the base aluminum material fully integrate with the anodic coating. This forms a robust bond that results in a thicker surface.

Hard anodizing enhances specific properties of treated aluminum materials, offering advantages in various industries. These include improved abrasion and corrosion resistance, superior thermal and electrical insulation, enhanced surface hardness, better gliding properties, and enhanced aesthetic qualities.

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