Anodization is a special chemical process used on metals. The goal is to protect metals from corrosion and to make them more resistant, so it’s used in many industries. Anodized metals are more resistant since they can’t corrode, so they are more durable and suitable for use in many different industries.
Another interesting effect of anodization is color change. This chemical process changes the color properties of a metal, which can be very interesting for some specialized uses of metals. It is particularly important for the jewelry industry, because anodized metals produce colorful jewelry pieces without addition of harmful colors or special coatings.
How it Works
Anodization is an electrolytic passivation process. Metals have a natural oxide level on their surface, and anodization is used to increase thickness of this oxide level. This building up of an oxide level during anodization can be done at different thickness on the surface of the metal. The color of the metal is determined precisely by the thickness of this new oxide level.
The name of the process comes from the procedure itself. During the chemical reaction, the metal acts as the anode electrode in an electrical circuit. This, in turn, produces an oxide layer on the material that is thicker than the layer naturally found on the surface of the metal.
Anodization as a procedure changes the metal’s texture, though only at a microscopic level. It also alters metals’ crystal structure on the surface. This improves certain characteristics of a metal and makes it more resistant.
Anodized Jewelry and Vibrant Colors
Many metals can be anodized, but the most common jewelry materials that are regularly anodized are titanium and niobium. Anodization can be used to change the color of these metals, making jewelry more vibrant and attractive.
Other materials that can be anodized include zinc, magnesium, tantalum and aluminum alloys. Some metals, however, don’t react as well to anodization, such as iron or carbon steel, because they exfoliate when they are oxidized and the new layer simply flakes off.
Anodization produces a number of very beautiful colors on titanium and niobium, without use of any coatings and harmful colors. It produces gorgeous jewelry materials and a wide range of unusual bright colors. It is not surprising that titanium and niobium jewelry is considered so beautiful and often praised for all the beautiful colors.
The colors are produced without any use of dyes and they solely depend on the thickness of the oxide on the surface of the metal. The thickness and, hence, different colors, are controlled by the voltage used in the process.
Some of the common colors produced through anodization include green, purple, yellow, copper, gold, fuchsia, and many others. A skilled craftsman can even produce a rainbow, “oil slick” effect on metal. However, some colors can’t be produced on anodized titanium and niobium, such as red and black.
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