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Type III or just Type II

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  • Type III or just Type II

    Hello everyone,
    I've been reading the posts and trying to gather information but due to the fact I have no idea what I'm talking about most of it goes over my head.

    I am a small manufacturer of firearms and would like to bring our anodizing in-house. So I got on the internet and started looking at different options over the past few weeks and I've gotten more confused than anything, oh, and almost taken for a ride by a scam artist.

    We are building the AR15 platform and will offer it in billet and forged. Our market is civilians not looking for govt. contracts. I like the idea of type III but not sure financially if it makes any sense. I did reach out to Caswell and they were as helpful as they could be. I'd like to do around 300 sets per month.

    upper 2.5 x 2.5 x 7.75 inches
    lower 1.5 x 4.5 x 8 inches
    handguard 1.5 x 15 inches

    These are the parts I would make black or grayish black. I would also like to be able to do 1 or 2 colors on a small part or two. 2 x 2 x 0.125 inches.

    I looked at the Caswell 20 Gallon Anodizing System ( but not sure that will work. And then adding the Hardcoat Type III system to it. (

    I have either a 16ft linear wall space or a 10 x 10ft corner area.

    In a nutshell, I'm lost and have no idea where to go from here. If anyone can guide us in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    Hi Michael,

    By the sounds of your requirements you need a proper "job shop" set up. Unfortunately the Caswell system, while great for the home user is going to be too time consuming for your needs (IMO). You'd be better served using the standard 12ASF method which all the job shops use. ano time is 60 minutes so the whole process can move quick. That's the format I run.

    There's sooooo much for you to learn and setting up your work space is something you will change, over and over again as you learn and refine your process. With that type of volume you'll need to become proficient at maintaining and testing your tanks to keep things in balance as there's no end to the problems that can arise in this game. Provided you are very diligent, strict with your process and clean you won't have problems. But, try to save time, money or cut corners and it's going to bit you in the ass hard.

    Based on your volume I'd say a 10 gallon set up is probably the most efficient. Rectangular polypropylene tanks are probably the best and all the same shape so your racking will fit every step without requiring it be broke down. You'll want to invest in a good chiller as temperature is critical to good , even, consistent results. Titanium racking is the only way you should go as time is valuable and you don't want to be fooling around with wiring your parts and then stripping wire after.

    As for hardcoat, it's not difficult but does require a whole different tank set up. I'd recommend you leave that for now until you get accustom to running type II then you can venture into it.


    • #3
      I concur 100% with gardinhackle except, I think 10 gallons is to small. It would be good to start and learn with, but you'll need to be running around the clock to do 300 sets/month based on you geometry. Assuming 20 work day a month, you will need to do 15 sets/day to reach that goal. Also assuming you can do 1 run/hour you'll need to be running at least 2 sets/load to make it work. Since you are green about anodizing, I would recommend getting a couple of small (10 gallon) tanks to get wet with. If that goes well, then plan on a line with at least 30-40 gallon tanks and a rectifier with a couple hundred amps to give yourself room to grow.
      Process control doesn't give you good quality, it gives you consistent quality.
      Good quality comes from consistently doing the right things.

      Process control systems for Anodizers
      If a post helps you out LIKE the post
      I'm not an Amateur Metal Finisher. I've just been around the industry for a dozen years or so helping and consulting when and where I can.


      • #4
        Originally posted by KevinB View Post
        I concur 100% with gardinhackle except, I think 10 gallons is to small. It would be good to start and learn with, but you'll need to be running around the clock to do 300 sets/month based on you geometry.
        Good point Kevin! I didn't think the volume

        For the record Michael, you might consider hiring Kevin B to consult your set up as this is his profession and process controls become very important when you get to the size you are interested in.


        • #5
          Thank you for the responses gentlemen. Kevin, please contact me if you think you can help us get set up. The only thing that didn't make sense to me was the 10-gallon setup. The one I posted says it's a 20 gallon but I do know they have a 30-gallon tank ( unless I'm not understanding how they measure the tanks.

          Here are some pics of parts. The lower is NOT ours but it is a milspec lower so the dimensions are the same +/-.
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          • #6
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            • #7
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              • #8

                After seeing the size of those parts I'd definitely say you need a much bigger tank system in the range of 40 gallons as Kevin mentions. It takes roughly 2 hours to process "front to back" from racking to sealing, I haven't been able to do it any faster then that anyway. If a "set" consists of two pieces then that's 30 pieces a day. Effectively one man can only reasonably do 4 runs a day assuming you are carrying the process front to back without stopping. Now if you run in an assembly manner you can squeeze more in as your one hour time in the tank can be utilised with other operations (racking, dying, sealing so on...) and will run more effectively with two guys. Either way that's a busy day.

                I noticed the raw parts have that familiar vib finished look from synthetic cones, do you do this yourself or are they sent out for vib finishing? If there is no other treatment after that process a good ultrasonic cleaning is a good idea to remove any impinged plastic media. If on the other hand the parts are to be glass bead blasted then your ok.


                • #9
                  30 pieces a day is fine for now, we couldn't build more than 400 rifles a month if we tried with our current setup. The vib will be done in house with plastic cones.

                  You mention 40gal tanks and I'm fine with that I thought the 30-gallon tanks Caswell sells would be good but I'm open since I have no idea what I'm doing. I also looked at a 200amp PS, I'm assuming that will be good.

                  Thanks in advance for the help.