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Anodizing or ceramic coating? This is a question a lot of engineers ask themselves when they’re drawing up plans for parts and products made from aluminum and aluminum alloys.

Both produce surfaces that are hard, corrosion-resistant and aesthetically pleasing to look at. To understand which finishing technique is the right finishing technique, it’s important to understand the differences between these two coatings.

selective anodizing service


Anodizing involves dipping the prototype, part or component into a 30 degree bath of sulfuric acid and powdered aluminum. The concoction is electrified with less than 100 volts of DC current, which picks up oxygen and transforms the part’s exterior into aluminum oxide.

Ceramic coating, which is often referred to as micro-arc oxidation (MAO), involves dipping the part or component into an alkaline bath with a pH balance between eight and twelve. This yields AC currents that create oxygen-producing micro plasma that attach to the part’s exterior surface.


Anodizing produces surfaces that are much harder than even heat-treated steel. It’s a tough outer coating that provides aluminum and aluminum alloy prototypes with corrosion-, abrasion- and wear-resistant protection that can be colored with organic dyes or metallic pigments.

Ceramic coating results in a finish that’s strong and capable of protecting aluminum and aluminum alloy parts. However, it differs from anodizing in that it typically cannot be colored with organic dyes or metallic pigments.


Anodizing requires the use of sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment. A prototype manufacturing service that finishes aluminum prototypes with selective anodizing typically takes extensive steps to ensure that the process is done with absolute precision in a safe manner, both for the expert technicians and the environment.

Finishing products with micro-arc oxidation typically doesn’t require the same level of precision, which means companies that offer this type of coating might not make the same level of investment in state-of-the-art machinery or expert technicians as those that offer anodizing.

To find out how much it will cost to finish your aluminum and aluminum alloy parts with anodizing, contact Product Development Solutions today.

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