How is Matte Black made ?

Written by Quentin Malgaud

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 does it actually work ?

It all starts with raw aluminum. Raw aluminum is this light gray metally matter that scratches super easily. Think of tin cans, the inside of soda cans or simply aluminum foil.

But Matte Black is as its name tells, Matte and Black.

To create that, two major finish processes are needed: shotpeening and anodization. First, 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. The process covers 120% of the surface leaving an homogeneous "matte" effect on the aluminum.

From left to right : raw aluminum before treatment, aluminum after shotpeening treatment, aluminum after anodisation.

Then to make it black, we use a special process called anodization. Unlike 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).

From left to right : raw aluminum (microscopic view) before treatment, aluminum after shotpeening treatment (microscopic view), aluminum after anodisation (microscopic view).

From top to bottom : raw aluminum (microscopic view) before treatment, aluminum after shotpeening treatment (microscopic view), aluminum after anodisation (microscopic view).

That creates microscopic cavities in which a dye is inserted before being sealed. Different dye 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.

This is a custom Matte Black Everything version we made for MKBHD. 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.


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