Q: Can I anodize titanium with my 12v Power Supply?

June 19, 2011

Christopher asked:

I want to do a large piece of titanium (28″ x 3″ x .5″), around how many amps would I need to push through it, or how long would it take?

I have a power supply that is 12V @ ~19A, could I use this to color my titanium if I just leave it on for a long period of time?

If I color my titanium and dont like it, can I do it again and will I get around the same results? I’m scared that I will try to color it blue and get a terrible result and be stuck with it.

Okay, three questions, but the most critical one is in the title. Titanium colors are voltage controlled. A twelve volt power supply (or battery charger) would work for electroplating or aluminum anodizing, but not for titanium. More precisely, you can get the fingerprint-prone bronzes and deep purple at or under 12 volts. But not any of the other colors.

Because the final color is voltage limited, the current is less critical, in theory.  In practice I find that to reach well saturated colors beyond about 50 volts you need a supply that can support an initial surge of at least 0.1 amps/sq.in. This can be done with lower rated supplies by charging a large capacitor in parallel with the electrodes. Your total piece is 184.5 sq.in, so 19 amps should be enough.

Burrs or sharp edges can have a negative effect on your final color.

If you don’t like your color, you can subsequently anodize to higher voltages, but not lower. The best color results appear on a clean and freshly etched surface. If you overshoot a color, or get a hazy or gray result, the only recourse is to grind, polish, or etch the color off and start over.