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powder coat vs anodize

powder coat vs anodize

Charley Ward |

(originally posted 10/18/22)

Okay, so both our BYOD rails are solid aluminum, which is really durable (especially for this application), but still lightweight. Generally speaking, folks don’t want bare aluminum, so how do cover that up? Well, there’s a few choices that come to mind.

1. Good ole paint …just not durable enough for the clamps.

2. Anodize. This is a a controlled oxide layer, but has some color limitations.

3. Powder coat. They actually bake on powder, kinda like a plastic coating. Loads of color options, not as much as paint.

So which is better? Powder coat or anodize?

Really, it depends. Anodize people will definitely tell you anodize is better, but there are plenty of reason why it’s just not always the case. Our BYOD rails are available in a variety of colors to suit your style, and the best combination of durability/function and color options we found to be powder coating. Paint offers any wild array of color combinations, including glitter, gloss/matte, metallic coating, etc, however it just does not hold up. We had a few pieces tested anyway, and it just scrapes and chips off as soon as you clamp something to it. Works great for some things, but this is not one of them.

here’s a prototype with gold metallic paint, and unfortunately it did not hold up well to the attachments 😒 I know.. bummer…

The other end of the spectrum is anodized aluminum, but there are some color limitations.  Anodizing is very dependent on the specific type of aluminum being coated. Some common types of aluminum like 6061-T6 (usually called “aircraft grade”, even though it’s just standard job shop aluminum 🙄) are very well known and typical for anodizing. But to be mindful of cost, our BYOD rails are die cast (topic for another day), which requires a different aluminum alloy, which has a pretty big effect/affect on the anodize colors

Which brings us back to powder coating. This is a very durable flavor of paint, except it’s not quite paint. It’s very common in the off road world, for good reason. It’s very durable, works well outside, does not care what base metal it is (mostly), and is very affordable when done in bulk. It’s done by taking a powder and charging it with some static electricity (that stuff that makes your hair stand up when you slide on a fabric seat), and charging the metal part with the opposite charge so it’ll stick…you know, opposites attract. Then send that part thru an oven to bake the powder on so it melds in place, and you have a rock solid coating that can take a beating. Works great for small BYOD rails, or large bumpers, it’s very flexible.

While many colors are available, it’s not exactly like going to Home Depot and picking out a swatch for them to mix up while you wait. The powders are created in the color they will be, and they require a rather large batch to mix up a specific color. We really wanted to offer a whole bunch of cool colors for these BYOD rails, so if you’re feeling it, check em out!