[HELP!] Want: Rapid prototyping CNC + anodized aluminum


I was wondering if anyone has any resources for rapid prototyping of CNC’d and anodized aluminum parts. For my senior project, I may be using metal in my appearance model (rather than sprayed renshape), but I don’t really have a CNC that can shape aluminum, nor do I have access to any anodizing facilities.

I would need a turnaround of a couple of days (design’s not set yet, but projects due in several weeks) and hopefully the cost is manageable for a student.

What companies would you recommend me to look into? The scale of this is a mobile device (handheld).

I’ve been Googlin’ but haven’t found anything that fits the bill.


Look locally for manufacturing “Job Shops”. They might be able to take some drop plate material and CNC it. You probably won’t find anyone with an in house ANO shop (unless they’re a large facility).

I know of a few places in the Minneapolis area, but I’m sure you’ve got lots of places closer out East.

Julius, just a thought but when you contact some places try to play the student card to your advantage, I know a couple of DAAP students that have received free SLA’ed or metal milled pieces from regional shops if they agree to let the company put the final model along with some sweet development in their company portfolios. Looks good for them, looks great for your wallet

As far as anodizing, if you can’t find a regional shop, look into online paintball gun anodizing shops like this one


I had a friend do his gun for under $200 from a similar place, I’m guessing your project will be significantly small then a whole paintball gun so you might be able to get out for cheaper?

Most places have a minimum run fee, but if you play that student card up…

I think I’m going with sandblasting instead of anodization to simulate the look. We have a sandblaster here.

I’m looking into quickparts.com or cntmotion.com. Any prior experiences with them? I noticed quickparts mostly does metal parts for machinery, but not really anything with high fidelity surfacing like a consumer product…

Dont know if its possible yet, but i plan to sandblast Stainless steel and then dye it lightly with fabricdye. Know it works with some polymers, but havent got hold of a sandblaster so far.

How much is your budget? and do you have the files already?
I know it sounds weird. but there are many prototype makers in China that can help you do this job 1/4 price ( or more discounts) compare to the ones in US. Just search around. You will end up saving even after shipping with Fedex.



Nice! I was trying to remember that company… they’re in my back yard!

firstcut is great for what it is (i’ve personally had everything accurate to .005, but have heard of people getting stuff that’s off by .012)

When you get machined aluminum parts from them, there is a risk. About 50% of the Al parts I’ve gotten from them have had tool marks visible (even with their light bad blast). If that is unacceptable then you may want to look elsewhere… although beating firstcut’s ~3 day delivery would be tough.

You may eventually get someone suggesting that the machine marks will be etched off in the anodized bath… i’ve never seen that happen. I’ve had brushed metal anodized and I could still see the brush marks through it, so be skeptical.

good luck

Is there any physicsdepartment at your campus? Ours had anodizing capabilities.

773 results for anodizing

8580 results for CNC machining

Sometimes working local removes a tremendous amount of inconvenience. Today was especially bad. I actually considered going to Taiwan to kick a molder in the crotch. Idiots. [/rant]

I was going to say the same thing about Jewelry / Metals program, I also heavily considered setting up my own anodizing operation at home when I was in school.