Corrosion: The Reason Why Your Apple Products Are So Tough And Beautiful [Video]

Corrosion: The Reason Why Your Apple Products Are So Tough And Beautiful [Video]

Did you ever wonder how Apple makes its unibody MacBooks and iMacs so tough, durable and so uniformly beautiful? Ever wonder how Apple manages to make their iPods so colorful? It’s all through the electrochemical magic of anodization. In other words? That brand new Apple gadget you’re so proud of is just as corroded as a piece of rusty iron.

Corrosion: The Reason Why Your Apple Products Are So Tough And Beautiful [Video]

Here’s how it works. When Apple gives us a new Mac or iPod, what they do is take a piece of aluminum and anodize it. But what does that mean?

Anodization is essentially corrosion. What Apple does is take the aluminum they make your MacBook Pro or iPod out of and corrode it until a honeycomb of pores open in the surface. They then ‘paint’ it with colorful dye and boil the aluminum until the pores seal, locking the dye into the metal irreversibly.

The result? A uniform color of silver on your MacBook, and brightly colored iPod nano and shuffle. And because the process gives aluminum the toughness of many hard gemstones, it makes your Apple gadget extremely resistant to nicks and scratches.

The process is even cooler with titanium, which doesn’t need dye to color: you simply grow a layer of oxide to a certain thickness, which causes light rays to bounce and reflect in different ways, giving the appearance of certain colors. Too bad Apple doesn’t make titanium laptops anymore, huh?

  • Tallest_Skil

    The newest thing Apple has anodized is the second-gen iPod nano.

    The Mac Pro is the only thing left that they still anodize. 
  • Dominique Griego

    Being a welder, rust is far different from corrosion. Also Aluminium doesn’t rust.

  • aardman

    Being a welder, rust is far different from corrosion. Also Aluminium doesn’t rust.

    If by ‘rust’ you mean ferric oxide, then aluminum doesn’t rust.  But as a welder, you do know that surface  oxidation does occur on aluminum, don’t you?

  • lwdesign1

    Being a welder, rust is far different from corrosion. Also Aluminium doesn’t rust.

    Aluminum does rust. On exposure to air, the top few layers of molecules turn into aluminum oxide, which fortunately is the same color as unoxidized aluminum. This makes it appear that aluminum doesn’t rust. You may have a misunderstanding on “rust”: It’s any form of metal that has oxidized. Copper oxide (copper rust) is grayish blue-green color for example.

  • drblank

    i personally like PVD coating.  It is tougher than anodizing, plus you can make different colors.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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