Apple Silver Finish

Postby mpdesigner » October 7th, 2010, 3:14 pm


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Anyone know how they made the MacBook Pro, iPad's, or Apple TV remote's silver finish? Is that painted or can you treat metal a certain way to get it to look like that? I don't know jack about how to finish metals but want to make a steel plate that will have a similar mattish silver finish like apple products.

Any tips?

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby tarngerine » October 7th, 2010, 3:26 pm

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Brushed aluminum.

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby NURB » October 7th, 2010, 3:29 pm

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It's more than just brushed... I believe it's anodized. Can anyone back up my assumption with data?
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby bngi » October 7th, 2010, 4:04 pm

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Im also pretty sure its anodized. Otherwise it suffer from corrsion, no?

Edit: Straight from the horses mouth.
http://www.apple.com/macbookair/design.html



As for your finish, i guess sand/beadblasting could work.
Last edited by bngi on October 7th, 2010, 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby tarngerine » October 7th, 2010, 4:06 pm

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I stand corrected.

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby choto » October 7th, 2010, 4:55 pm

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I did something similar to a piece of stainless steel a couple of months back, I bought a cheap abrasive blaster from Harbor Freight. Worked reasonably well for a small piece (table lamp)
http://www.harborfreight.com/abrasive-b ... 96972.html

You'll have to experiment with what media you're shooting out walnut shell, glass bead, or aluminum oxide. I had the best luck with fine grit aluminum oxide media.

If you're using stainless it's not going to look exactly like the Apple finish though because aluminum is a whiter metal.

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby mpdesigner » October 7th, 2010, 5:08 pm


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This piece of metal will be a light switch plate and has to pass UL.
Is Anodized Aluminum OK for this application or should I stick with blasting an abrasive onto something like tungsten steel or iron? WOnder how I can prevent corrosision too....

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby NURB » October 7th, 2010, 7:17 pm

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tarngerine wrote:I stand corrected.


If it were bare aluminum (even brushed) it would oxidize over time. The ano process helps prevent that.
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby tarngerine » October 7th, 2010, 7:19 pm

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So is it brushed then anodized or just straight up anodized? I've always wondered since the MBP is like virtually unscratchable.

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby NURB » October 7th, 2010, 8:20 pm

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It's likely lightly sanded prior to anodizing. That would clean up any residual manufacturing blemishes. The anodizing process (hard anodizing anyway) leaves the surface very resistant to scratches. Anodizing is great, but it's difficult to do well with welded parts.
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby Eddison » October 7th, 2010, 8:23 pm


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mpdesigner wrote:This piece of metal will be a light switch plate and has to pass UL.
Is Anodized Aluminum OK for this application or should I stick with blasting an abrasive onto something like tungsten steel or iron? WOnder how I can prevent corrosision too....


You'll need to verify this yourself (UL), but I think your switch plate will fall under "Enclosure", which means the aluminum will only need to meet a certain thickness. The aluminum itself also doesn't need to be protected against corrosion as it is considered as already having "inherent resistance to atmospheric corrosion".

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby Scott Bennett » October 8th, 2010, 2:14 am

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I don't think it's brushed (or sanded). Part of the anodizing process is an etch bath. If you leave it in the etching solution long enough, it will take off light machining marks. Sanding, or even media blasting, would knock off the very sharp edge that runs around the lip. I think these parts come straight off the machine into the anodizing process.

All the Apple stuff I have appears to have pretty standard Type II anodizing. The newer iPod Nanos appear to also have a bright dip step, which is what gives them that glossy look.

Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby NURB » October 8th, 2010, 7:17 am

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Scott Bennett wrote:I don't think it's brushed (or sanded). Part of the anodizing process is an etch bath. If you leave it in the etching solution long enough, it will take off light machining marks.


That's right. I forgot about the etch bath finish...
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby loughnane » October 12th, 2010, 11:20 pm

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The spec most plating houses use for anodizing is MIL-8625F

Type II is your standard anodizing, or "clear coat".

Type III is your hard anodizing, or "hard coat".

I'd guess that it's a type II, as type III will often give a duller color (but have the aforementioned benefit of hardness...better than tool steel).

As for the texture, the anodizing house i typically work with tells me that whatever the finish you haver on the raw metal is the finish you will have on the anodized part. For the jobs I've done that's held true for brushed and bead blasted surfaces.
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Re: Apple Silver Finish

Postby surfwizz » February 4th, 2012, 7:20 pm


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I did some experiments in my school's machine shop and my samples of 6061 Aluminum match my MacBook Pro after a round in the sandblaster. I'm not sure about the medium and I don't have access to anodizing equipment, so I couldn't test that, but it looks pretty close.

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