Anodizing Costs Explained: How to Estimate

Anodizing Costs Explained: How to Estimate

Anodizing Costs Explained: How to Estimate

Anodizing is one of the most commonly outsourced surface treatments that enhance the durability and corrosion resistance of a metal workpiece.

But how much does anodizing cost? What are the factors that determine the cost of anodizing a part?

Anodizing costs an average of around $0.8 per square inch, with minimum lot charges varying from $50 to $200. However, the exact cost is affected by factors such as coating thickness, type of anodizing process, etc. Generally, type-II anodizing is the cheapest, with clear anodizing costing less than color anodizing.

This article discusses the cost of anodizing by going through its various aspects such as the size of the part, the dye used in anodizing, the racking required, etc.

In the end, the article also lists some of the popular brands that provide anodizing services.

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How Much Does Anodizing Cost?

Anodizing TypeEstimated Minimum Cost
Type II anodizing (clear)$50-$140
Type II anodizing (standard colors)$110-$200
Type II anodizing (custom colors)$135-$250
Type III anodizing (clear)$120-$200
Type III anodizing (custom colors)$150-$275
Anodizing types and their estimated minimum lot charges

Anodizing is a surface treatment process that does not require any expensive equipment, and therefore can also be performed as a DIY process in your workshop.

However, anodizing large parts can be challenging and will have to be outsourced to a professional anodizing service provider.

Generally, anodizing services charge around $0.6 to over $1 per square inch, with a minimum charge of over $50.

Depending upon the service provider, this minimum charge can go up to $200, making it important to select the right service provider for your application.

If your application involves anodizing a large batch of workpieces, look for a service that charges less per piece.

On the other hand, if your application requires anodizing just a few parts, it's better to look for the one with the lowest minimum charges.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Anodizing

Low-Cost OptionsHigh-Cost Options
Small size with less surface areaLarge size with a greater surface area
Type II AnodizingHard Anodizing or High accuracy chromatic anodizing
Clear anodizing or standard colorsCustom colors like golden, bronze
Part with easy racking feasibilityPart that requires a custom racking technique
Factors that govern the cost of anodizing

Apart from that, the cost of anodizing is also affected by various other factors such as type of anodizing, anodizing color required, material to be anodized, etc.

Generally, the colors of anodized aluminum are the most radiant and provide a wide variety to select from. Hence, for color anodizing requirements, it is advised to select aluminum, irrespective of the cost.

Size of the Part

Anodizing parts of different sizes
Anodizing parts of different sizes (Source: usanodize)

The size of the part impacts the cost of anodizing in various aspects.

A part with a large surface area requires comparatively more time, more material, and more labor to perform anodizing, which thereby increases the cost of anodizing.

Furthermore, the size also affects the number of parts that can be anodized in one go.

Generally, service providers want to utilize their time and resources by anodizing the maximum number of workpieces in a single batch, but having a large workpiece with irregular geometry limits them from maximizing the utilization of their anodizing bath.

Therefore, the cost of anodizing increases with the size and complexity of the part.

Required Thickness of the Coating

A thick anodized layer protects the workpiece from corrosion and offers durability by enhancing its abrasion resistance.

However, the thickness of the layer directly affects the cost of anodizing the workpiece.

Generally, the thickness of the anodized layer is around 5µm, and to achieve a thicker coating, the process is repeated again and again until the desired thickness is achieved.

This repetition of the process to increase the thickness of anodized coating increases the overall cost of the process.

Therefore, it is advised to identify your requirement before deciding on the required thickness of the anodized coating.

Anodizing a part for aesthetical reasons does not require a thick coating, whereas a part that is to be subjected to abrasive conditions requires a thick coating.

Type of Anodizing Required

Anodizing is generally of three types: type I, type II, and type III. The cost of anodizing varies depending on the type of anodizing required.

Type I Anodizing (Chromic Acid)

Type I anodizing or chromic acid anodizing produces the thinnest layer of around ±0.0001”, which provides the ability to accurately regulate the thickness of the coating.

However, the chromatic acid used in the process poses environmental hazards and is therefore not readily available in various regions.

As a result, the cost of type I anodizing is comparatively higher, as it requires a special process to safely dispose of the hazardous waste.

An alternative to chromic acid anodizing is boric-sulfuric acid anodizing, which costs less than chromic acid but with comparatively less accuracy.

It must be noted that type I anodizing is not suitable for applications that require color anodizing.

Type II Anodizing (Sulfuric Acid)

Type II Sulfuric Anodizing
Type II Sulfuric Anodizing (Source: Chicago Anodizing Company)

Type II anodizing is the most commonly used anodizing technique. It utilizes sulfuric acid, which is comparatively cheaper and readily available, making it less costly than other types of anodizing.

Apart from that, it requires less power, less time, and less safety equipment throughout the anodizing process, thereby enhancing its efficiency.

Type II anodizing produces a ±0.001” thick coating with a porous layer that is suitable for adding colors to the anodized layer.

Therefore, it is best suited for applications that require high aesthetic value with average wear resistance.

Almost all aluminum anodizing applications utilize type II anodizing unless hard anodizing is specifically required.

Type III Anodizing (Hard Anodizing)

Type III Hard Coating Anodizing
Type III Hard Coating Anodizing (Source: Chicago Anodizing Company)

Type III anodizing or hard anodizing produces the thickest coating among the three and provides high durability against wear.

It uses a sulfuric acid-based electrolyte and is generally available in clear and black colors only.

Generally, type II anodizing is the go-to process, unless specific thickness and accuracy requirements are specified.

Racking Feasibility

Racking of anodized part
Racking of anodized parts (Source: usanodize)

Racking is the process of mounting the workpieces on a rack to immerse them into the anodizing bath.

However, using clamps to mount the workpiece will result in a non-anodized patch, under the clamping area.

Therefore, the parts to be anodized should be provided with a racking feasibility, such as a threaded hole or a protruding profile to clamp the workpiece, which can be machined after anodizing.

A good racking system enables the service provider to utilize their bath efficiently to anodize the maximum number of workpieces in every batch.

If your part requires a special raking technique, you will have to inform the service provider about it.

This customization increases the cost of anodizing as it affects the ability to accommodate maximum workpieces in every batch.

Choice of Anodizing Color

Different colors of anodized aluminum
Different colors of anodized aluminum

Anodizing provides the ability to add colors to your workpiece to further enhance its aesthetics.

However, the choice of color impacts the cost of anodizing. Selecting the standard colors offered by the service provider will cost comparatively less than requesting a custom color for your part.

Generally, clear anodizing is the cheapest, as it does not involve adding any color, followed by basic colors such as black, brown, grey, red, etc.

Anodizing with custom colors such as gold anodizing or bronze anodizing would cost comparatively more, as the service provider will have to prepare a separate bath, specifically for your application.

You can also opt for bright dip anodizing to achieve a brighter and more vibrant color output, at a slightly higher cost.

Therefore, if your application does not necessitate any custom color requirements, it is advised to select any one of the default color options provided by the anodizing service.

Additional Services

Anodizing adds a layer of a certain thickness, increasing the dimensions of the part.

However, certain profiles, such as threaded grooves, or holes drilled with tight tolerance can lose their dimensional accuracy, leading to improper fit.

Therefore, you will have to request the service provider to plug the holes or find a solution to anodize the part without affecting the dimensions of those profiles.

If your part requires additional preparation, such as plugging of holes, the service provider will charge you extra for it, as it involves extra labor.

Things to Ensure Before Anodizing the Part

Type of Material Used

The type of metal used for the application plays a vital role in determining the ease and quality of anodizing.

Although aluminum is the best-suited metal for anodizing, you can also perform steel anodizing, gold anodizing, bronze anodizing, or titanium anodizing.

However, these processes are comparatively rare and will thereby cost more if the service provider has to prepare a special anodizing bath specifically for your application.

Furthermore, different alloys of aluminum produce different results for anodizing.

While the 2000 series produces good results for hard anodizing, the 5000 series is best suited for chromic anodizing, and the 7000 series produces the best results with smooth surface and clean anodizing.

Dimensional Accuracy of the Part

Anodizing thickness
Anodizing thickness

The dimensional accuracy of the part is one of the major concerns during anodizing.

Adding a significantly thick layer of anodizing will affect the overall dimensions of the part, which can cause a problem for applications where tight tolerance is of utmost importance.

Unlike other coating processes, anodizing involves transforming the surface of the workpiece into its oxide along with the deposition of an extra layer.

Therefore, the thickness of the anodized layer is 50% within the surface of the original workpiece and 50% above it.

For example, when depositing a 0.05" thick anodizing layer over a cylindrical workpiece, having a diameter of 5", the final diameter will have an overall increase of 0.05" instead of 0.1", i.e., the final diameter will be 5.05".

Remove Dust and Impurities Before Anodizing

The final result of anodizing is directly affected by the preparation process of the workpiece.

It is recommended to clean the workpiece thoroughly to remove any oil or water residues from the surface before anodizing.

This is because the moisture present on the surface of the workpiece will result in white spots over the anodized layer.

Therefore, if your anodized product has such white spots on the surface, it signifies that the service provider did not ensure thorough cleaning and drying of the workpiece.

Color Requirement

Different colors of anodized aluminum
Different colors of anodized aluminum

Color anodizing is only recommended for enhancing the aesthetic value of your workpiece.

If your application does not necessarily require color anodizing, opt for clear anodizing, as it will cost significantly lower.

Apart from that, you can also choose gold anodizing, which involves using special anodizing dyes to add a golden layer over the aluminum workpiece, which significantly increases the cost.

This type of anodizing is generally preferred for making artificial ornaments and jewelry.

Outsourcing Your Anodizing Requirement

When selecting the right anodizing service provider for your application, it is important to ensure that they fulfill all your requirements.

While some anodizing services run three shifts to ensure a quick process with constant monitoring, others follow a single-shift routine, slowing down the anodizing process.

Apart from that, there are various other factors to consider such as minimum cost, the maximum size of the workpiece, standard colors offered, minimum and maximum coating thickness offered, etc.

After ensuring that all your requirements are perfectly met, you can contact the service provider and get a quote for your anodizing application.

Two of the popular anodizing service providers are listed below:

Final Thoughts

The cost of anodizing can vary depending on various factors and different service providers charge different rates for their services.

However, you can estimate the cost by considering the various factors that affect the cost of anodizing and planning your anodizing requirement accordingly.

If your application requires anodizing solely for aesthetic purposes, a thin coating with an attractive color selection is recommended.

Whereas for applications that require enhanced abrasive resistance, a thick anodizing coating with clear or standard color is recommended.

Apart from that, it is advised to discuss your application with your service provider and design the part according to their racking needs to minimize the cost of anodizing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is aluminum anodizing costly?

Yes, aluminum anodizing is a costly process, but cutting your cost by selecting the best-suited and cheapest options, such as type II anodizing and clear color, will help you reduce the overall cost of the process.

What is the best alternative to anodizing?

Powder coating is the best alternative to anodizing. It adds a colored layer over the workpiece, thereby providing a high surface finish and protecting it from wear. However, an anodized layer provides comparatively better resistance to wear and corrosion.

Can you perform anodizing at home?

Yes, anodizing can be performed at home. However, you will have to perform some test runs before perfecting it. Furthermore, the quality of a professional anodizing service will be comparatively superior to a part anodized at home.

About John

Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com

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