Protolabs’ UK base in the West Midlands is now offering aluminium anodising as part of its on-demand production service – allowing for initial part design through to a finished protected all from the same supplier.
Anodising applies a thin, protective coat to the part forming a protective oxide layer, creating a barrier against corrosion, increased abrasion resistance and adds a decorative effect through enhanced surface finish and dyes.
Protolabs currently offers two levels of anodising: For parts needing protection against a harsh environment it provides hard anodising to ISI 10074, whereas if an aesthetic finish is required, then decorative anodising to ISO 7599 is available.
The service is suitable for parts manufactured from Aluminium 6082 and 7075. All of the parts are sealed as part of the standard process unless they are due to be painted after anodising, in which case the company’s technical team is able to advise the customer.
“Talking to our clients, we realised that if they needed to anodise an aluminium part it was often difficult for them to source and then manage a supplier,” explained Protolabs special operations manager Stephen Dyson.
“They not only have to do all the research and then raise a separate purchase order, but often find that the supplier only accepts large quantities of parts in an order, which isn’t great for low volume runs.”
He continued: “Keeping the entire production process with a single supplier makes perfect sense for manufacturers. It means they can get their finished parts shipped in a matter of days and our technical team can advise them through the entire process, right from the initial design of the part to the best approach for the final anodising finish.”
With in excess of 100 CNC milling, CNC turning and plastic injection moulding machines, not to mention a state-of-the-art 3D printing facility in Germany, the company typically turns jobs around in between three to 15 days.