Aluminium anodising was introduced around 100 years ago as a method for protecting against corrosion, as well as for use within architecture. Many thousands of products have utilised aluminium anodising, especially those within the sectors of defence, aerospace and space.
Most people solely remember electrolysis from their school science labs, but anodising is a real-world example of school science experiments being used in industry on a massive scale. Just like when you were in school, anodising takes place when a piece of aluminium is placed within an electrolytic solution, one that contains molecules which have lost or gained electrons, with a direct current being passed through it. The result is a piece of aluminium which has gained a thin layer of corrosion-resistant finish, making it suitable amongst other things for a journey into space like the parts of a satellite.
Not just for outer space
It is not just big industry that uses anodising. Cycle manufacturer Chris Morgan, owner of Morgan Cycles, uses the process to etch designs in his vibrant and dynamic bicycles, making them incredibly distinctive and creating designs that are both long-lasting and unlikely to be achieved using other methods – https://cyclingtips.com/2018/10/masterclass-anodising-titanium-with-mooro-cycles/. The anodised metals used to create the cycles remain light and aerodynamic too.
Why anodise the aluminium?
As surface treatments go, there are a vast number of benefits to using anodising to protect your aluminium. Firstly, it is incredibly durable, providing protection against the elements especially those to be installed in areas where corrosion is a risk factor. Often if two pieces of metal are installed in a way that they will slide against each other, for example within a sliding door for an elevator, galling can occur. This galling is reduced when surfaces are anodised.
Other benefits of these surface treatments are that wear and tear from a wide range of handling occasions is reduced, whether that is in use, cleaning or within installation. Just like Chris Morgan does with his bikes, another great benefit of anodising is the fact that colouring is possible to create any amount of fantastic designs on metal.
Above all, the anodising of aluminium is the reproduction of something which happens naturally. Due to this, there is no risk to the process, making the end product entirely non-hazardous, despite having been protected from the elements.