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  • How to anodize titanium - make pretty colors!

    Anodizing titanium is childs play compared to aluminium. You don't need any dangerous acids, or fickle dyes, you just need some soap and a bit of electricity. It only makes a few seconds.

    Do to complicated molecular reasons, anodised titanium goes a pretty colour. This colour varies with the voltage used. This ranges from gold for about twenty volts, via purple and pink at about 100 volts.

    All you do is make up some electrolyte solution. I use sugar soap, 10 grams per litre. This is bought from the DIY store for cleaning paintwork prior to repainting to get the grease off.

    Find a suitable power supply - use a PC power supply or whatever transfers you've got laying about with a rectifier to make up anything between 20 and 100 volts DC. If you are very clever, you can make a variable voltage supply. The exact colour you get depends on several factors, so experiment :)

    See the image for an example of a bit of anodised titanium rod. Purple Anodised titanium rod

    Simply attach +volts to the titanium part, and use a lump of lead sheet submerged into the solution for the cathode. Clean up your titanium to make it clean of finger grease and dip it in to the solution. After a few moments of fizzing it will take on its final colour. That's it!

    However, there is little use for titanium in the home workshop. We make things out of aluminium because it is cheap and easy to machine, and we make things out of steel if they need to be harder or stronger. Titanium is about as light as aluminium and at least as hard and strong as steel - but it is a bugger to machine. However, if you want easy colors, it is the way to go!

    NB I own a bit of 4 inch titanium bar stock - this takes about 10 times longer to cut on a bandsaw than similar sized aluminium bar stock.

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