Finishing & Secondary Operations: Customizing Your Custom Extrusions

custom-finishing-aluminumThere are a lot of ways that you can further customize your custom aluminum extrusion pieces through the use of secondary operations and finishing options. Whether you choose painting, powder coating or anodizing aluminum, it is important to know what the benefits of each are and how they can enhance your extrusions. Aluminum fabrication shops, like the one at Silver City Aluminum, help clients to create the pieces, parts and products that they need with standard and custom aluminum extrusion to create truly custom results.

When it comes to choosing the best type of finishing option, it is important to consider the purpose of the custom aluminum extrusion piece or part. Will the piece be used for a finished product that will be used outdoors or under extreme conditions, such as high or low temperatures, weather exposure, chemical contact or heavy-duty use? Do you need to product to look a certain way or have a specific texture to it? The intention of the product, the way it will be used, the conditions in which it will be used and who will be using it – either consumers or professionals – will help you to make the best choice.

Anodizing Aluminum
For over 75 years, industry professionals have relied on an application known as anodizing to create a protective coating made from aluminum oxide that can be applied to the surface of a standard or custom aluminum extrusion part or piece. The thickness of the coating itself is what determines the lifetime of the finished product, as well as the way that the item is used. For example, products used indoors and without any chemical, abrasive or extreme temperature exposure, will likely last longer than products used outdoors that get a lot of rough use.

Aluminum oxide protects the base metal by forming a very hard, weather-resistant and extremely durable layer over the base metal of the aluminum piece. Color can be added through the use of dyes, however there is an appealing natural hue that can be seen after the anodizing aluminum process that many clients prefer to a colorized version. A simple electrochemical process is used to grow the coating from the base aluminum itself, which is why it is so strong and durable. The coating won’t flake off, peel away or break off over time like other types of finishing for custom aluminum extrusion.

Some of the advantages associated with anodizing aluminum include:

  • provides a rich, deep metallic appearance
  • color options can be added to further customize the look
  • anodizing is harder than other types of coating options for better protection
  • more cost-effective and affordable than painting or powder coating
  • not affected or damaged by sunlight compared to other types of coatings
  • lifetime of coating can be increased simply by increasing thickness
  • great choice for LEED certification as it is environmentally friendly

Painting & Powder Coating Aluminum
The ability of this type of finishing option to perform over time will depend on a couple of different factors in the application process itself. For example, the pre-treatment process that is done and the type of pigmentation that is used will definitely play a part. It is important that painting be applied at reputable aluminum fabrication shops in order to maximize the life of the finishing, as well as to improve the return on investment for this added protection. Painting and powder coating are considered to be “organic” types of finishing as opposed to the electrochemical application of anodizing aluminum.

In addition to providing secondary options that enhance the function of the piece or part that is created through standard or custom aluminum extrusion, the finishing can also help the product or part to perform better. This is why it is important to choose only high quality materials for finishing process and to avoid known issues that can cause the coating to be less effective or short lived. One example of this is the ingredient in pigmentation known as “resin,” which is often the reason why some coating solutions fail. While resin is far superior to epoxy coatings, which should only be used indoors, there are still versions of it that are not a good choice for everyday products or industrial parts and pieces.

Which Option is Best?
If you still aren’t sure about which secondary operations and finishing options are best for your project and custom aluminum extrusion, make sure to work with one of the professional consultants at Silver City Aluminum. Located in Taunton, MA, Silver City provides top quality extrusions, secondary options and finishing services to clients all over the globe. Give us a call today at 508-824-831 and get a FREE ESTIMATE on any of our professional services.