Anodizing Stainless Steel Models

Discussion in 'Finishing Techniques' started by DavidAlan, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. DavidAlan
    DavidAlan New Member
    Hi everybody. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on where I could find someone to color anodize some of my models that I'm getting printed in stainless steel. So far, the only things I've been able to find on my own are mass production factories, with couple hundred dollar minimums. In general, I just want to color the metal, and still have it be metal (if that makes any sense). Any advice? Anyone? Bueller?
  2. joris
    joris New Member

    why would you like to anodize the metal? Which colors or finishes would you like it to have? What do you aim to do with the model?

  3. cooldjez
    cooldjez New Member
    I have been looking into the same thing. I would like to color the metal black (PVD). As this is popular in watch cases I thought it would be cool to produce rings and cufflinks in black.

    I also found companies who could help be, but because of the low volume the costs are way to high.

    I am very curious to hear if anyone has tried to 'blue' the SS material. Normal stainless steel alows you turn it blue when you heat it up very carefully with a torch. This is the way how they make the blue screws in watch movements.
  4. cooldjez
    cooldjez New Member
    Just thought of something else.

    Joris, if you ever make titanium available to everyone, coloring will be easy. Titanium reacts to different currents. So you can turn it a whole range of colors.
  5. __DF__
    __DF__ New Member
    To color a metal (any metal..) correctly, you need to use chemical acids.
    The best you can do, is to find an art restorer specialized in sculpture.

    Every metal needs a unique chemical acid for a unique color. The process is complex and you need a person who knows what he is doing when dealing with acids.

    I 've been working with such a person once. He was an art restorer and could turn any metal to any color using acids. He even had a color palette for this, a huge one, for his customers to choose. He is an art restorer, but I suppose any good art restorer is capable of doing this. At least a part of it...
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
  6. joris
    joris New Member

    Titanium is ridiculously expensive. It is 40-50 times more expensive than the other processes. So..uum..if you guys really really want it we could look into it. But, for the moment my assumption is that we won't sell a lot of it.

    There are a lot of different finishes that we can do with the steel. I will look into anodizing our materials and what we can do with that.


  7. cooldjez
    cooldjez New Member
    Just to get this clear.

    SS = $10 per 1cm3
    Titanium is between $400 and $500 per 1cm3?

    If this is the case I won't bother you guys about Titanium again. For that kind of money I will go gold (even at current prices) every time.

  8. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    What if we go the opposite direction in price? Like Aluminum.
  9. joris
    joris New Member
    I still think titanium is a nice material and it is used a lot in jewelery. But, I currently do not believe that we can get the price down to a level that would work for you guys.
  10. Fingers
    Fingers New Member
    Have you looked into chemical Bluing? Depending on location you may be able to find "cold bluing" kits intended for touching up blued gun metal.
  11. GlenG
    GlenG New Member
    OK folks here is what I know about coloring the Shapeways SS.
    SOME commercially available "Patina" solutions for coloring copper or bronze will work. But I would not recommend them for use on objects worn in close contact with the skin (like finger rings!) Good results are gotten from Birchwood-Casey Co. products. Please note: ONLY use the coloring agents formulated to produce shades of brown or black. The products formulated to produce antique green shades will not work and will produce a rusty mess. These solutions are often available from jewelry supplies also from gunsmithing suppliers. These chemicals are easy to use, they require no heat, they work almost instantly and are reasonably safe to use.

    Heat coloring is a better choice though. This costs nothing. No chemicals, and the results are actually more durable than the chemicals mentioned above.
    A lovely red brown will start to appear at around 350º C this color will deepen and darken as temperature increases. Eventually a grey/black will occur. To begin, object must be clean, and free of all skin oils, they should also be dry (no water spots). Heat must be applied slowly and evenly. A torch or stove burner will work. If you manage to get the object red hot the resulting color will be in the black range. Be careful as at these elevated temperatures the metal will begin to form "fire scale" which is a hard flakey oxide that is not very attractive and very difficult to remove.

    No matter what method you use keep in mind these "coatings", which are actually thin films of oxides, are subject to abrasion and will eventually wear away from convex surfaces leaving bright metal. This would be true of plated surfaces as well.

    Hope this helps a little, go have fun, but use common sense and be careful.


  12. DavidAlan
    DavidAlan New Member
    Awesome! I got Jorus' attention.
    Well, initially my hope for anodizing is for my lantern rings based on the green lantern comic books. I'm still finishing up the rest of the models, but essentially there are going to be 7 different ring rings, one for each color of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) plus black. Usually, if I find a green lantern ring for sale, it's either just in silver, with some green accent crystal or enamel, or it is painted, and not suitable to wear. So initially, I'd like to be able to get my rings colored, but still wearable. Wether it's polished or textured, I don't particularly care, at least at the moment. It'd be cool to be able to offer it as an option to sell. Heck even to be able to make a piece in stainless steel that is either silver or "gold" colored would be cool. I've seen a couple pictures of jewelry by other artists like Madox and Bulatov that they've got their metal pieces color anodized.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
  13. derekh
    derekh New Member
    Hey David,

    I find myself in pretty much the same situation. I have been considering powder coating my rings to get all the different colors of the Lantern spectrum's.

    I also had some thoughts as to using a combination of tinted transparent resin with various colored glow in the dark powders worked in for use in the recessed areas of my rings to give it a glow in the appropriate color.


  14. DavidAlan
    DavidAlan New Member
    I just got a similar thought today, to putting on a clear tinted resin coating. The idea came to me when I got a paperclip that was blue but metallic looking, and I realized it was in a clear blue "sleeve." I can honestly say that using glow in the dark powder didn't occur to me, although I have made a couple of models with space for an LED. I haven't put those up on my store yet though, because I wanted to figure out space for some sort of switch/battery compartment.
  15. joris
    joris New Member
    Powder coating and coating in general would seem to be easier to implement.

    But, would you guys prefer information:

    ie powdercoating tutorial, anodizing tutorial


    would you like us to offer this?
  16. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    Powder coating is definitely a process. Or at least the method I know of for powder coating out door furnishings. Involved shot blasting, chemical dip, the coating. May be scaled down when your not coating park benches but the line I saw was huge.
  17. DavidAlan
    DavidAlan New Member
    Well I know I would definitely prefer anodizing, as it still gives you a metallic look and feel. Powder coating usually ends up looking like shiny plastic. I've read plenty of tutorials about it, but it's not really a process that's easy to do at home. It would be awesome if you could offer it. I'd settle for anodizing being outsourced to someone else though. Or is it possible to add color during the printing process?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  18. derekh
    derekh New Member
    I don't really see anodizing as being a permanent solution, everything I have seen that is done that way fades quickly with wear, and while it may provide the "metallic" look, it is temporary at best.

    Anyways, these are the options I have been considering recently, and have no idea which (if any) would be viable for this application.

    1.) Powder Coating - It appears to be far less labor intensive than originally thought. They make small kits that only require small amounts of time in a toaster oven to cure, and are fairly low in cost.

    Powder Coating

    I have seen other powder coating kits that are much lower in price, around $130 or so.

    2.) Plating - This seems to be the cheapest option, but unfortunately has little in the way of colors.

    Would work for Sinestro Corps and possibly Orange Lantern styles.


    3.) Painting, other types of applied coatings, etc... - Apparently, some of these items are epoxies that are incredibly durable, and are available in a huge variety of colors, but having never used any, I can't say how durable/safe they would be for jewelery items.

    Other Coatings

    One would think that with the technology we have today one of these options would be workable for use on jewelery.

    (I am also currently trying to get some of my items cast in silver, since that is wearable without all the hassle. They may not be colored, but at least they could be worn.)
  19. DavidAlan
    DavidAlan New Member
    Hey, I was looking around, and found a link heat coloring stainless steel.
    <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
    According to this site, you can color stainless steel just by throwing it in the oven, and depending on the temperature, you get a different color:

    Pale Yellow----------------------300°F
    Bright Yellow--------------------350°F
    Straw Yellow--------------------400°F
    Dark Straw Yellow-------------425°F
    Dark Blue------------------------525°F
    Light Blue------------------------550°F
    &#8221;Clear&#8221; (Very Light) Blue-----575°F

    There's a picture at the bottom of the link with a gradient colored piece of steel. I was thinking of creating some test ingots to see what temp my oven gets what color.

    Or, maybe this kind of testing has already been done with the Stainless Steel material, and Joris or someone can provide some insight. Either Way, I think I'm going to give this a shot.
  20. Wolfdagon
    Wolfdagon New Member
    Once I figure out how to model the rings (I'm getting closer) I think I am going to try this with powder coating.

    The place that I work has two large powder coating lines where they coat the outer shell for water heaters. Unfortunately, none of the colors they use would look very good on any kind of jewelry, or I would just take it to work and let them do it. Also, they can't just throw in a new color for me because it would contaminate the paint that they are using.

    I have been looking at diffent colors though and have found what I think would be perfect for each ring. I hope to use some of the overtime money that I am currently getting to get everything to give this a try.

    But if someone beats me to it I would love to see the results.