Anodize with Communication and Craftsmanship


By Andre Papineau

The first step in anodizing aluminum that is often overlooked is communicating the objective for the part. What does the part do; why is anodize required; are there areas that are critical to the function of the final part; is a certain anodize type important? Talking over these objectives will help refine the anodizing process and cost estimates.

Careful planning also requires clear and concise drawings. The more complicated the part, the greater the importance of clear drawings. When drawings or plans indicate exactly where anodize areas should be masked there is less confusion about the time it will take to prepare the part. The better drawings communicate your intentions, the more precise cost estimates can be.

Masking can often be a very laborious and time consuming job and can represent more than 70% of anodize costs. When Qualtek receives a quote request, at least three sets of eyes review the drawings. Sometimes we have the part in hand and can match drawings to the part and identify any questions about the process. The more information we have, the more accurately we can estimate the time it will take to complete the masking and anodizing process.

Once the plans are reviewed and quotes approved, anodizing the part according to the plans takes true craftsmanship. Qualtek’s expert finishing team applies plugs, tape, or paint to precisely match drawings. Their craftsmanship earned Qualtek the nickname of “Best Anodizer in Colorado”.

The key to getting high quality, anodize parts at the best price requires communication of objectives, clear drawings, and expert craftsmanship. For questions about anodizing or any of our finishing process, please contact me at (719) 598-3394.

What Does It Cost To Anodize A Part?

Willie Alexander
By Willie Alexander

The simple answer is “it depends”. But there are three key factors that affect anodizing costs.

 1.  Coating Thickness

If no specific thickness is required for the coating type it is considered “basic” and is the least expensive.

Controlling precise coating thickness affects cost. If coating thickness specifications include upper and lower limits, the narrower the range, the higher cost. As an example, +/- .001” is less expensive than the tighter range of +/- .0001”.

Maximum coating thicknesses may also cost more because they take longer to produce.

2.  Racking

Racking is critical to quality. Qualtek uses aluminum or commercially pure titanium racks to make electrical contact. If the job does not specify racking requirements, we utilize the most cost-effective method to gain the highest yield. Particular racking requirements may limit the number of parts processed at one time and the cost per part may go up.

The size and shape of a part also affects the quantity per run, which affects cost. When the shape of a product part is unique, Qualtek can build custom racks to maximize part runs but that may impact cost.

The number of parts processed at one time is affected by power supply limitations. Anodizing is performed at ~15 or ~30 amps per square foot (ASF). Therefore, there is a maximum surface area able to be processed in each run.

3.  Extras

Customers often require additional tasks to augment the anodizing process. When parts need simple or complex masking or if holes need to be plugged, those services add labor and time. While those services add value, they also increase the total cost of anodizing the part.

The cost of anodizing aluminum parts depends on the thickness of the coating, the size and shape of the part, and extra services desired.