Anodized titanium is a popular material used in various applications, from aerospace and medical devices to automotive and jewelry. The titanium undergoes an electrochemical process that creates an oxide layer on its surface. For color anodizing applications (Type 3), the color is achieved by altering the thickness of the oxide layer, which can range from about 300 to 550 angstroms (30-55 nanometers).
The color in titanium anodizing is not a coating or a paint, nor does it use pigment or dye that can peel or fade over time. The prismatic effect in the oxide layer does not degrade with exposure to UV light. So in that sense, no, anodized titanium does not fade. But the surface of the titanium is subject to abrasion.
Does Anodized Titanium Wear Off?
The oxide layer of color anodized titanium may be scratched or scraped off from the effects of friction and wear, and thus remove the color. Unlike Type 2 titanium anodizing, Type 3 color anodizing does not protect from the effects of wear. Exposure to conditions such as harsh chemicals, abrasives or high temperatures may cause the titanium to lose its color or become discolored. In some cases, repeated small abrasions may lead to what could be mistaken for faded color.
Because anodized titanium is biocompatible, it is often used for orthopedic implants. A titanium anodized part will lose its color within 48-72 hours after implantation in the human body. Laser marking the titanium part after color anodizing is an important step for traceability and identification if the implant later needs to be removed.
For quality control in manufacturing, a typical guideline for anodized titanium implants is that they must survive three rounds in an autoclave without deterioration of color.