By Mark Ormiston
April 8, 2010
You may not realize it, but the anodized finish commonly found on medical components, cell phones, iPods, lipsticks, and automotive trim holds an opportunity for green manufacturing.
The process of anodizing, the electrochemical conversion of the aluminum to a protective oxide film is a multi-functional process. It provides a great deal of benefits to industries ranging from medical, pharmaceutical, automotive, to personal care and cosmetic packaging segments, where anodizing serves as a premium finish and protects and enhances the anodized article.
Anomatic regards the quest for greener, more sustainable products as an industry responsibility. One of the larger breakthroughs to date has been made in the cleaning and oil recovery technology used to clean components prior to anodizing. In an effort to reduce carbon-based energy use, closed-cycle vapor cleaning technology has been implemented. Prior to this innovation, aqueous cleaning methods, which require a lot of energy both to heat the water and to dry the parts were enlisted. Additionally, the water-based technology did not allow the direct reuse of the stamping oil for its original intended use.
This new cleaning system using DuPont Vertrel, allows Anomatic to use 90 percent less energy to clean parts than the previous methods. Furthermore, the company is now able to recover the oil through an advanced recovery module, which filters and directs the oil back to its intended use. The system has the potential to recover up to 80 percent of the oil. This process is both a cost savings and an environmental sustainability improvement. The first unit has been in full production for three months, and Anomatic continues to optimize the system.
Another recent innovation, which Anomatic brought to market in 2009, is the new aluminum alloy 9030. This alloy features a high recycle content with a guaranteed minimum 20 percent post consumer aluminum recycle content. For alloys destined for anodizing, it is critical to control the chemical constituents in the alloy because the anodized coating can be highly sensitive to upsets in metallurgical chemistry and conditions. Aluminum alloys with high levels of recycled stock can save up to 95 percent of the energy required to make the aluminum from the raw ore.
As a global leader of high volume anodized packaging, with plants in Ohio, Connecticut and Asia, Anomatic continues to take its responsibility for greener manufacturing seriously through ongoing efforts like these.
Mark Ormiston is the Director of Research and Development at Anomatic Corp., an Ohio-based anodizing and aluminum packaging company. Mark can be reached at [email protected].