BASEBALL ! Title intentionally changed to thwart stupid ads, we'll see how it works.
Good things to know.
Anodizing is the process by which aluminum paintball markers take on those familiar bright metallic colors. Unlike paint, the process involves inducing a porous aluminum oxide coating on the surface of the aluminum, then dying it various colors.
Interesting effects can be achieved through the use of special dying techniques, and bead blasting.
Many people ask if parts can be anodized white. This is impossible because white dyes are not available. You can achieve an almost white finish with a clear (no dye) anodizing over a bead blasted part. The matte finish created by the bead blasting helps to diffuse reflected light, making the marker appear less shiny.
A properly anodized marker will have a hard, scratch resistant coating that will protect your finish from oxidation and wear. Over time (months and sometimes years), the dyes used can begin to break down from exposure to sunlight. Also, sweaty paintball gloves can eventually take their toll on your anodizing. The acids in your sweat, combined with friction on the surface will eventually wear down the anodizing and begin to expose the underlying aluminum. Certain aluminum alloys are more susceptible to this than others. Certain colors of dye are more resistant to fading than others.
To protect your anodizing, I recommend occasionally waxing your marker's exterior with a high quality automotive wax. Make sure you use only pure carnuba wax. Any wax labelled as cleaner wax may contain abrasives that will damage your finish.
A lot of people ask why anodizing prices are so high. I'll do my best to explain. We make every effort to keep our prices within the industry standard. Usually, we will work with a customer to match or beat a competitor's price. There are some things you should know to help understand just what is involved in anodizing a marker.
First, we are not a big industrial anodizer. We do all of our work by hand. While this is not as efficient as an industrial anodizing line, it allows us to be in complete control of each step in the process. Unfortunately, it also means we do a lot more work to produce the same finished results. This is really a hobby that doesn't make us a whole lot of money, as you will see later. There are two of us doing all the work at Bloen Customs, and we both have regular 40 hour jobs. Anodizing is something we do for fun and bragging rights. We just like to make markers look pretty.
The process begins with disassembling the marker. In many cases this requires specialized tools (particularly angels, and markers with snap rings, etc.) It also requires extensive technical knowledge of all kinds of paintball markers. We usually keep a couple of scuba tanks on hand to check markers for proper function before delivery. We do encourage customers to do their own disassembly because it saves them money. It allows us to concentrate on the anodizing, and finish the work quicker.
After we have the individual parts ready, they have to be completely cleaned of all oil, grease and paint sludge. If there is the tiniest drop of oil on a part, it will prevent the old anodizing from stripping off the part completely.
The next step after cleaning is the stripping of the old anodizing. The parts are submerged in a special solution that dissolves the old anodizing without damaging the underlying aluminum.
After the parts are stripped, they may need some touch-up polishing. This takes a steady hand and a lot of patience. Unfortunately, most polishing compounds contain waxes and oils that require the parts to be cleaned all over again.
After the second cleaning, the parts are briefly submerged in an etching solution which helps prepare the surface for anodizing. They are then placed in a smut removing solution which rids the surface of alloy metals, leaving only pure aluminum at the surface.
When the previous process is complete, the parts are transferred to the anodizing bath. They are put in a temperature and current controlled electrolyte and the coating is slowly grown on the surface of the aluminum.
When they come out of the anodizing bath, they are then dyed and sealed. The whole process usually takes 4 or more hours for even one solid color. If we charge $100 for one solid color, then divide it between the two of us, after five hours, we wind up making significantly less than our day jobs for all our effort. That doesn't include the cost of upkeep for the anodizing line, dyes, electricity, cleaners, etc. You might think we're nuts for doing this, but like I said, we don't do it for profit, we do it beacause we enjoy beautifying the paintball world.