How is Matte Black made ?

We love matte black. There is nothing quite as captivating than a matte black aluminum shell. The way the light swiftly glides on its surface, there is no other color like it. So how do you actually make black aluminum ?

This is a custom version we made for MKBHD as he is one of our major source of inspiration. I discovered his channel 6 years ago during his "hackintosh" building series and I've been stocked ever since. This was the first custom Linedock we made so of course, it had to be Matte Black.

It all starts with some good raw aluminum. Raw aluminum is this light gray metal matter that scratches super easily. Think of tin cans or simply aluminum foil. 

Starting from a raw aluminum case, two major finish processes are needed: shotpeening and anodization.

Shotpeening is a process where nanoscopic steel balls are projected onto the surface of the case. Each ball creates a tiny impact on the surface.

Microscopic view of BEFORE and AFTER shotpeening treatment

 

The process covers 120% of the surface leaving an homogeneous "matte" effect on the aluminum.

Then to make it black, we use a special process called anodizationUnlike painting, anodization puts the color directly inside the material, not just coating on top of it. That prevents the color from chipping or peeling.

During the anodizing process, the case is put into a bath of acidic solution where then high current is applied (I know, "tortured aluminum" would've been a better name). That creates microscopic cavities in which a dye is inserted before being sealed.

 

Microscopic view of BEFORE and AFTER anodizing treatment
 

Different dyes are used for different colors. Except white. White anodizing remains to this date the holy grail in aluminum finish as we have yet to discover a coloring matter that would be small enough to fit inside the cavities. And this folks, is how you create matte black aluminum.


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