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Thread: RIT Dye as color fill ?????

  1. #1
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    RIT Dye as color fill ?????

    Does anyone have experience using RIT dye as color fill, especially on clear or light color anodized aluminum that you would care to share?

    I found a old reference a while back, but there wasn't much info as I remember. A search does not turn up any finds.
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  2. #2
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    It's not a color fill, but a dye (there is a difference). RIT can be used to dye anodized as long as you're willing to put up with its deficiencies. Since it is an organic dye, it is not UV fast, so it will not retain its color when used outdoors. Also, color variations are common and are due to a number of factors, with how long it has been sitting on the store shelf, storage conditions, etc. being among them. So, don't use it for customers who demand a consistent product.

    That said, you can make some really cool looking stuff.
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  3. #3
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    I mix up a spray bottle of it (Dark Brown) to use in wood engraving that don't really darken as much as you would like.. Just make sure the wood has a real good finish on it before you laser, and spray on the fabric dye or it will stain the piece.. I find it useful on oak and maple just to darken it a bit..
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  4. #4
    When aluminum is anodized, it creates tubular pores in the surface. Color anodizing is a process of allowing the dyes to penetrate into the pores. Then the anodize is sealed, either chemically or by hot water. This traps the color into the surface. After the anodize is sealed the pores will no longer accept dye. You may be able to apply a surface colorant (like a Sharpie marker) but this will not be the same as color anodize.

    Way back, Peter Laakmann from Synrad developed a method of color anodizing after the fact. I believe he was claiming that lasering the surface of anodized aluminum would reopen the pores. He would then use colored markers to dye the aluminum. Ritt dyes could probably have worked as well. I have an article written by him on the subject and Synrad got a patent on it. But it was never really developed commercially and no one seemed to have good success with it.

    Edit: Here is a link to the patent if anyone is interested
    http://www.patents.com/Peter-Laakman...703/inventors/
    Last edited by Richard Rumancik; 12-18-2009 at 4:31 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rumancik View Post
    Way back, Peter Laakmann from Synrad developed a method of color anodizing after the fact. I believe he was claiming that lasering the surface of anodized aluminum would reopen the pores. He would then use colored markers to dye the aluminum. Ritt dyes could probably have worked as well. I have an article written by him on the subject and Synrad got a patent on it. But it was never really developed commercially and no one seemed to have good success with it.

    Edit: Here is a link to the patent if anyone is interested
    http://www.patents.com/Peter-Laakman...703/inventors/
    If the patent hasn't already expired (did they keep up payments?), it soon will (20 years for utility patents from the date of submission). Not to mention plenty of people have been doing this, so it doesn't look like they're trying to hang onto it.

    I've had excellent success with it, as long as you remember my previously mentioned gotchas.
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  6. #6
    No, I don't think Synrad is trying to "hang on to it" i.e. enforce it. A marketing person from Synrad told me that nobody had much success with it; it seemed Mr. Laackmann (who is deceased) had some kind of knack for it. I think they (he) intended to license it and he created a separate company, but I don't know if much ever happened. I have searched on the net and really didn't find much.

    Now I won't say you can't color the exposed aluminum with a dye of some sort. But whether the claim that the anodize actually re-opens the closed pores, making them receptive to dye, is what I question. I have not been able to confirm this - the patent was the only reference I ever found suggesting this actually happens.

    A topical application of dye might be fine for an award but the beauty of true color anodize is that the color is not just on the surface, it is buried beneath the surface and effectively encapsulated once the pores are sealed. It would probably take some pretty good microscopy to see what is actually happening.

    I only brought up the patent as I thought maybe it was the Laakmann process that Randy was referring to. I wasn't trying to suggest that anyone should or shouldn't try to color on anodize using their own method.

    The Laakmann process was claimed to be unique as it was for multi-colored marking. The procedure involved lasering an area, dying the area, then sealing followed by lasering subsequent and possibly overlapping zones. Laakmann used water-soluable marking pens as the source of the dye.

    It could be that user results were not consistent because there are a few different anodizing processes and sealing processes and of course many alloys of aluminum. It's possible the process works with some combinations and not others.

  7. #7
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    Thanks to all of you for your comments. You have enlightened me on some history that I was not aware of. I enjoy experimenting, but would rather not waste time plowing ground that has already been turned.
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  8. #8
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    In a nutshell... if you want repeatability, don't go with RIT, go with a proper-chemistry anodizing dye. If absolute repeatability are not a concern, you'll have a fun time playing with RIT.
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