How do you clean anodized aluminum?

CherryAirport09Anodized architectural finishing gives a tough and long-lasting surface to aluminum. This is particularly useful for high-traffic areas of a building, where hardness and abrasion resistance is vital. While anodize is as hard as sapphire (the second hardest substance in the world), it still requires regular maintenance and care.

Although anodized aluminum is exceptionally resistant to corrosion, discoloration and wear, it can be marred by harsh chemicals, abuse or neglect. Periodic maintenance inhibits long-term accumulation of soil, which can accelerate weathering of the finish.

It depends on the weather

The environment of the building will influence the cleaning frequency your anodized surfaces require. Factors such as smog, condensation or low rainfall areas can contribute to a surface needing more frequent cleanings to remove salt and dirt build-up. Areas that have seasonal rainfall to help remove water-soluble deposits and soil will require cleaning less often.

TampaMuseumofArt-close-up-webIt depends on the placement

Regardless of climate, recessed and sheltered areas usually become more heavily soiled because of the lack of rain-washing. Overhangs, bottoms of fascia panels and sheltered column covers are particularly susceptible to soil build-up. If not addressed, this can lead to accelerated weathering of the anodized finish. Integrating this as part of the building’s overall maintenance schedule is the most efficient and economical way to make sure soil and salt build-up is kept in check.

It depends on the build-up

The severity and tenacity of the soil build-up will determine progressively stronger cleaning procedures that can help maintain a building’s anodized surfaces. Be cautious. Experiment on a small area of the building, using stronger methods until you find the one that works.

  • For light soil, flush the surface with water using moderate pressure. Let it air dry and check to see if the build-up still remains.
  • If the build-up remains, move to scrubbing with a brush or sponge while spraying with water.
  • If, and only if, that does not remove the build-up, then add a mild detergent cleaner to the scrubbing.
  • If heavy surface soil persists, add an abrasive cleaning pad to the mild detergent washing. Be sure to always scrub in the direction of the metal grain.
  • If detergent is used, rinse the surface thoroughly, multiple times, with clean water after scrubbing, to avoid detergent residue building up in place of soil.

It depends on the cleaner

Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) or similar solvents should only be used to remove oil, wax, polish or similar material from your surface. Extreme care must be exercised to keep MEK from damaging any organic sealants, gaskets and finishes around anodized surfaces. If the anodize is protected with a clear, organic coating, do not use MEK solvent, as it may deteriorate or remove the coating completely. Do not use aggressive alkaline or acid cleaners on or near anodized aluminum.

It depends on deterioration

Even if well maintained, architectural finishes, including anodize, could eventually need repair. There are solutions for both minor and major damage and deterioration of anodize, so plan accordingly. For small scratches and rub marks, minor touch-up paint can be used. The paint should closely match the color of the factory-applied anodize finish. Use caution when applying touch up paint to the damaged area. Be aware that the touch-up paint will not be as hard as the original finish and is not intended for areas larger than a few square inches.

harsh-chemical-damage-webWhen larger anodized areas are damaged beyond what a simple touch-up can fix, it is time to call in a professional. Large, full-service finishing companies often employ field service workers who are able to prepare and apply architectural paint finishes in the field. The coating used should meet the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s AAMA 2605 specification and be tinted to match the existing finish. This can be a difficult goal, particularly if only a portion of the existing surface is being refinished or the finish has already experienced some fade. Be certain to ask for an onsite sample to approve of before the full project begins.

Learn more about anodizing and its care and maintenance by clicking here. For personalized assistance in selecting or repairing anodize finishes for your aluminum building products, please contact Linetec’s regional sales managers, email sales@linetec.com or call 888-717-1472.

Slate, Portland’s new, LEED Gold, mixed-use, transit-oriented development features Linetec’s paint, anodize and thermal improvement services

OR_Slate_9267JoshuaJayElliott-courtesyWorksProgressArchitectureLLPwebThe 10-story, LEED® Gold certified, mixed-use, transit-oriented development known as Slate is helping revitalize the Burnside Bridgehead area in Portland, Oregon. Formerly a vacant lot called Block 75, the new building features window, entrance, unitized curtainwall and panel systems finished by Linetec. Contributing to the building’s high energy-efficiency and sustainability goals, Linetec also provided the thermal improvement services for the glazing systems’ aluminum framing.

Opened last year, the project spans 147,000 square feet and offers 75 market-rate apartment units on the upper six floors; 35,000 square feet of creative co-working office workspace on floors 2-4; and 7,800 square feet of retail space at street level.  read more

 

Anodize Nickel Test

Linetec-dark-bronze-Ano-nickel-rub-2blue-web

Nickel Test

When extreme hardness is required for aluminum building components, such as in high-traffic areas, like entranceways and railings, an AAMA 611-14 anodized aluminum finish should be specified.

The hardness of anodized aluminum rivals that of the diamond.

This “Nickel Test” demonstrates why a Class I high-performance anodize coating is the perfect choice for exterior architectural applications.

How does aluminum become anodized?

LinetecAnodize_web-300dpiAnodizing is the most durable and long-lasting option for finishing architectural aluminum building products. An electrochemical process, anodizing produces a finish that resists the ravages of time and environment. However, there are important things to note about color selection for anodized aluminum.

Linetec’s two-step electrolytic anodizing process , where the anodizing and coloring of the aluminum occur in two separate steps, involves:

  • first placing the aluminum in a solution of sulfuric acid and water, then charging it with electrical current to form aluminum oxide on the surface.
  • then after anodizing is complete, parts can be immersed in a bath containing an inorganic metal such as tin, cobalt or nickel, which is deposited in the anodic pores to achieve color.

anodize-ring2-webAs a result, anodized finishes’ color choices range from clear to champagne to a variety of bronze tones to black. Linetec also offers a copper anodize, which involves an additional color tank, using actual copper to color the aluminum while isolating the copper in the coating. This process makes the copper color very stable and consistent.

Anodic oxide is not affected by ultraviolet light and is resistant to scratches, which help ensure color stability.

Due to the chemical process used to create an anodized finish, the possibility of color variation can be a concern during its application. Here are some factors to keep in mind to minimize the variation from your desired color:

  • Single source it. While the aluminum is anodized during the process, other metals (silicon, zinc, magnesium, etc.) present in the aluminum alloy can respond differently, resulting in unwanted variation of color. Reduce this risk by having all metal used for a project come from a single source/extruder, and from one lot of material. Also, avoid using aluminum with different alloys, as it will not yield uniform results.
  • Request a range sample. Because it is impossible to know the effect non-aluminum metals in the material will have on the final product’s color, be sure to ask your anodizer for a range sample before sending them your product for finishing. An anodize range sample is two anodize color chips for the same color, with one showing the lightest extreme of appearance to be expected on the finished parts and one showing the darkest. Be aware that the lighter the anodize finish, the more noticeable the range. Be sure to speak with any potential anodizer to see what range of variation they can guarantee. AAMA’s industry-leading standards specify that the range should not differ by more than 5 Delta E. A quality anodizer may be able to keep the range of a color even lower.
  • Bend then finish.  Anodic films are very hard, and as a result, most post-production bending causes a series of small cracks in the finish that give it a spider-web appearance. To avoid this, have as much bending and forming of the material completed before it is sent to receive its finish.
  • Weld with care.  If your metal has any welds on it, the anodization process can cause a halo effect of localized discoloration around them. Welding with the proper 5356 alloy welding wire and the lowest heat possible helps minimize this.

Select an aluminum finisher that utilizes automation in its anodize process to reduce inconsistencies. An automated system controls and monitors the process, including tank sequencing, chemical add, voltage, current, time and temperature, which ensures the most consistent anodize finish possible.

Learn more about anodizing by clicking here. For personalized assistance in choosing an anodize color for your aluminum building products, please contact Linetec’s regional sales managers, email sales@linetec.com or call 888-717-1472.

Construction Specifier shares Linetec’s anodizing expertise

Flapper2-webThe April issue of Construction Specifier features “Five Factors for Variation in and Anodize Finish,” authored by Linetec’s Tammy Schroeder.

The six-page educational article describes the anodizing process and key considerations to minimize color variation. These essential factors include:

  • Aluminum alloys and their alloying elements
  • Mixing aluminum alloys means mixed results
  • Primary vs. secondary aluminum
  • Chemistry of the anodize process
  • Surface preparations

Construction Specifications Institute members received the printed magazine, and all can view the feature online, page 62.

After April, please visit https://www.constructionspecifier.com to create a free account and access the archived digital editions.

Follow the links to learn more about Linetec’s anodize process and how we ensure the most consistent color.

Linetec honors Mark Hall for 50 years of service

50yr-sign3-webWausau, Wisconsin (May 2017) – In 1967, future president Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as governor of California, The Beatles released “Magical Mystery Tour” album and Mark Hall began his career with what would become Linetec. Reagan left the governor’s office in 1975 and The Beatles broke up in 1970, but Hall is still happily at work today.

“I was 19 years old and a year out of high school when I started at Wausau Metals (now known as Wausau Window and Wall Systems), making $1.75 an hour,” Hall says. “I was part-time at first and worked in shipping, crating windows and loading them onto the truck. For extra hours, I’d clean anodize tanks. In May 1970, we added color to the anodize tanks and I moved to third shift. I’ve been there ever since.”

Continuous Improvement

In 1968, Apogee Enterprises Inc. was formed as a holding company to oversee a growing number of profit centers including Wausau. In 1983, Apogee founded Linetec with a single paint line. When it added the anodizing line in 1986, Hall officially became a Linetec employee.

According to Rick Marshall, Linetec’s president, “Linetec is honored and thankful to have someone of Mark’s loyalty, commitment and expertise. He was the beginning and foundation of the anodizing business for Linetec.”

Hall has seen significant changes at Linetec throughout the half century. He continues to be amazed at the growth of the company and the pace of technology that has improved efficiency and quality. “I used to have four people working with me to manually move the anodize loads from tank to tank. We’d set timers for each tank load to move to the next tank. Buzzers were always going off. Now, it’s just me running the line and everything is automated. The loads are bigger, but they take less time.”

He continues, “Back then, normal rework was 30 to 50 percent. A day with just 25 percent rework was great. Today, our rework goal is less than one percent!”

Tankline2-webDependable Teamwork, Consistent Quality

One thing Hall says has not changed during 50 years is the quality of the people—something that, along with a reliable paycheck and good benefits, has kept him loyal and happy at Linetec for so long. “I’ve always worked with great people,” he emphasizes. “I appreciate our teamwork and have enjoyed training many of our current tank operators.”

“Mark has set the standard for not only tenure at Linetec, but also in quality and consistency of our color anodizing. He remains the most consistent quality anodize line operator Linetec has in its ranks,” praises Andy Joswiak, vice president of operations.

Tank-operator-web“During my 11 years as Mark’s supervisor, he has always been very professional and does his job very well,” reiterates Tim Lynn, “Drawing from his many years of knowledge and experience, he matches the customers’ requested color with one of the highest accuracy rates of all the tank operators throughout the anodize plant.”

Keep on Workin’

Outside of his work at Linetec, Lynn says many people in the Wausau area also know Hall as their former school bus driver. For 28 years, he drove for the Marathon School District as bus driver on the kindergarten route, after school routes and sometimes took teams to athletic events at night. It is highly possible that Hall transported multiple generations. In addition to driving the school bus, and never missing a single child on his route, Hall also drove an oil truck for several years.

Between his part-time driving jobs and his full-time position at Linetec, Hall has not found much time for hobbies or travel. Instead, he enjoys watching NASCAR and the Green Bay Packers, and focusing on his family.

“I have a lovely wife, two daughters and two sons. I worked so many hours my kids would want pizza for Thanksgiving so they could have an ‘everyday meal’ with their dad,” he says.

Hall has no plans to slow down or retire, but says, “If I ever retire, I’d probably help out at the Humane Society.”

Mark-Rick-TimLynn-webHall’s 50th anniversary celebration breakfast was held May 4. Jane Kessel, vice president of human resources, notes, “The 50 years of knowledge that Mark has helps us ensure our customers get the highest quality anodize finish. It’s also a tremendous asset to our newer team members—especially during the extraordinary growth the company is experiencing.”

 

Architectural Anodize Data Sheet

Process  .  Warranty  .  AAMA Specifications  .  Guide Spec

Download Complete Data Sheet

architectural-anodize-data-sheet-1Architectural Anodizing combines science with nature to create one of the world’s best metal finishes. The coating produced is extremely durable, and the second hardest substance on earth.

The typical anodizing employed in the architectural industry is called two-step electrolytic.” The actual anodizing and coloring of the aluminum occur in separate steps…    read more

Class I and Class II Anodize

Class I and Class II anodic coatings are designations created by the Aluminum Association for the purpose of codifying the specification of anodized aluminum.

Class I coating has a mil thickness of 0.7 (18 microns) or greater
Class II coating has a minimum mil thickness of 0.4 (10 microns)

Class I coating is a high performance anodic finish used primarily for exterior building products and other products that must withstand continuous outdoor exposure. read more

Strengths of Anodizeimg_0137

  • Durability, abrasion resistance
  • Metal appearance
  • Excellent weatherability (Class I)
  • Color stability
  • Non-hazardous, produces no harmful or dangerous by-products

Anodize Warranty

Linetec’s documented testing allow us to offer warranties of 5 years, on Class I Anodize finishing, with confidence that your product will perform as intended.

In some cases, with prior approval and a minimal up-charge, Linetec can offer an extended anodize warranty up to 10 years.  read more

AAMA Specifications

In order to ensure the anodize performance expected for an architectural / commercial application, AAMA 611-14 specification should be referenced along with the anodize color.

Beyond the stringent standards and regulations, Linetec offers a downloadable guide spec with specifiable differences that contribute to a project’s long life, durability and sustainability.  read more

Cleaning and Maintaining your Aluminum Finish Guide

damaged_anodize-mcdonalds-door-brickwashThis paper discusses the recommended care of painted and anodized finishes on architectural metal and examines three levels of concern: care and cleaning, minor repairs, and more complex refinishing.   read more