I've been messing around with anodizing some stuff and thought I would share. I made some 6"x3" test plates of 6061 and wanted to see what I could achieve. I really didn't put much work into the test pieces so there is a little color variation with solid colors which I think is due to the surface finish. Overall though I don't think my attempts have been terrible. Tried to copy this Luxe getting closer pretty sure like most metal finishes it's all in the prep work. I would really like to know how Caustic and Arc get those flowing acid washes. I'm thinking they use some other type of media other than a sponge to create the bleaching. I get lost staring into their acid washes.
How are you doing the acid wash?
If you leave the gun wet then using a small child's toothbrush it will flow in the water and create good effects. You can then wash (very thoroughly) and use the same method with bleach on top of the same area.
I'm using a clean household sponge with some diluted bleach, leaving the part wet, then running back over the bleached parts with some diluted acid to get the rest of the color out. As you stated, I'm using separate sponges as well as rinsing well between the solutions. The parts take the dye the first go but after the bleaching they don't seem to want to dye the full color. I've been in a rush the last two attempts so I'm going to try a few different methods to bleach the parts as well as giving ample time to complete the process.
I'm getting close . Still having some dye uptake problems after the initial dip. Pretty sure its related to the current density I'm using but a few more test with plain colors and we'll see how it turns out.
Sorry my last post was late at night.
It should say paint brush not toothbrush.
Also, try using desmut to remove dye, then bleach.
The amount of water on the part affects how much it spreads and runs. Try thick and thin bleach to control spread / run as well.
Your good, figured the brush was just a medium. My dye uptake issue ended up being the power supply. It wasn't maintaining the current as it should for whatever reason it wouldn't switch over to current mode. Santa was good to me, I got a Mastech 3020d. I feel like such a nerd to be this excited about a power supply. :-p. A couple of test pieces were completed and dye re-uptake was even and everything seemed okay. Planing to anodize a gun this weekend. Got two more test pieces to do to plan out my dye technique. I'll be sure to post the results.
Since I started anodizing about 2 years ago, it's been a process of continual improvement. That being said, I've had 3 major "breakthroughs" that have significantly improved my results.
The first is temperature control. There are several options ranging from expensive (titanium cored chiller) to super cheap (putting frozen water bottles in the tank). I went with a mid-range solution and built an aluminum coil to act as a heat exchanger. Regardless of how you do it, once you are able to tightly control temperature, your results will become much more consistent and predictable.
The second is more of a theoretical breakthrough. Instead of trying to calculate surface area of complex parts, I use "calibration pieces" of a known surface area to determine the optimal voltage for my current density, bath chemistry and bath temperature. Do some searching over on Caswell's site for details on this process. Please note that this "calibration voltage" is ONLY good for the temperature the tank was initially "calibrated" at. This is why reliable temperature control is so important.
The third major leap forward was when I started using an ultrasonic cleaner. Before getting the cleaner, my rejection rate was about 30%, due to anomalies related to cleanliness ("speckles" that wouldn't take dye, weird spots that didn't anno, etc.). Since switching to ultrasonic cleaning, the rejection rate has dropped to almost zero.
Good luck man, your initial stuff looks WAY better than my initial stuff did. My first tries looked so bad it's almost comical.
Thanks for the pointers I was thinking about getting an ultra sonic cleaner and addressing the surface area problem. Possibly getting an accurate fluid measuring device and do volume~surface area calculations. Seems simple enough dropping all the parts in and measuring the fluid difference. I am aware of the temperature constraints as well as maintaining ph of the baths. Thankfully at the moment I need to heat my tank with electronic thermal pads rather than cool it off. That will probably change in the summer but it works for now.
Measuring fluid displacement will tell you total volume of your parts, but wont tell you the surface area of the parts. Two shapes can have the same volume but have radically different surface areas...