Anodizing questions answered by jasonwongzero (Loaded Yoyos)

Hey guys! If anyone has questions about anodizing, I’d be happy to try my best to answer them for you. I can chat about what’s possible, how I created specific past designs and how I believe other colorways are achieved.

As a reminder, anodizing is a dangerous process and I won’t be answering precise questions about the exact anodizing process. (It involves electricity, acid, nasty fumes, etc.) In other words, bring on the questions as yoyo players and collectors; if you’re an aspiring anodizer, I recommend you seek out specialty anodizing forums.

For examples of my past work, feel free to check them out here:

Unfortunately I don’t take any anodizing jobs. If I do I’ll let you guys know. (My anodizing setup is packed away in storage.)

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What is the “hello world” of anodizing? The simplest thing you could do with the lowest risk, and what equipment and supplies would you need to do it?

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Wow your work is stunning. I didn’t even know stuff like the space Invaders was possible.
Are you going projects currently? Accepting jobs?
Are their any colors that aren’t possible or what is the hardest?

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do you do commissions still? i would love to get something anodized by you!

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The easiest colorway to anodize would probably be an acid washed single color.

There’s not really a super simple homebrew setup. In order to do a decent anodizing job at a very high level you need the following:

  • A power supply (I think some people may have used computer power supplies), but IMHO you need something that allows you to control volts and amps.
  • A vessel to hold strong acid.
  • Said acid.
  • Some sort of racking that will allow you to suspend yoyo halves in the acid bath.
  • A metal plate to act as a cathode
  • Dyes (specialty anodizing dyes work best)
  • Detergent to wash yoyos
  • Sealant to seal the dyes
  • Disposable gloves
  • Proper ventilation!!
  • Goggles and safety equipment!!
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Can you describe a vision you have for an ano that you haven’t figured out how to pull off yet?

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Sorry I should have stated it up front, but my anodizing setup has been packed away and I don’t take on any jobs. One day I might start it up again for fun. Will let people know when I do.

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good designs.i wanted to ask you.Do you work in a yo-yo company\factory?

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Pretty much any color is possible except for white. White to my knowledge is not currently possible… anodized yoyos that look white are just anodized raw/silver.

Handling colors does vary from color to color, but I wouldn’t necessarily say one color is harder than another. The difficulty in anodizing comes from the layers/patterns/stencils, etc. People often think that fancy splashes are hard, but they really aren’t, because they hide ano flaws. The hardest colorways to execute are complex stencils/layers on top of a solid background. For example, these were the hardest for me:

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i have never seen such colorways in my entire life.so innovative colorways.

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Thank you! Yoyos and anodizing are just passion hobbies for me. I’m constantly curious and just decided one day it would be fun to teach myself anodizing. (I have plenty of other weird/interesting hobbies that I’d be happy to chat about if people are interested. :P)

I work in tech/media as a product executive. I am currently Director of Product at Hulu. I started six months ago. This basically means I’m in charge of the roadmap/features/implementation of the Hulu user interface, recommendations, etc. If you use Hulu, my team of product managers are the ones planning out the interface and features you see.

Before Hulu, I was Head of Product for Fire TV at Amazon and before that, VP of Service for TiVo.

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Thanks for making this topic Jason!

I’m partial to these three… :slight_smile:

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I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I don’t think there’s an ano job that I don’t know how to execute… rather some ano jobs would be really difficult to execute well from a technical/craft perspective. At it’s core, all anodizing is basically just dyeing, masking, layering more dye, etc. You could do almost anything using these techniques, it just gets really really hard to do well. As the designs get more complicated and you add more layers, you are forced to handle the yoyo more. This is what results in ano flaws.

To back up a little bit… once you anodize a yoyo, you can’t touch it with your hands, because the oils from your hands prevent the dye from coloring the yoyo. (Even handling the yoyo with gloves can result in flaws. Flaws show up as either a raw or light spot where the color should be solid.) A yoyo like the captain america chief requires very precise stencils all on a solid red background which is extremely difficult to execute properly. I screwed up many times before successfully completing the 6 or 7 ones that I finished. I was hunched over a desk, using needles and tweezers to perfectly drop a centered star on the CLYW Chief hub, all without touching the yoyo at all. If the stencil sticks to the wrong spot, the yoyo is ruined and you need to start over. If you accidentally brush the yoyo while trying to lay the stencil, it’s ruined. If the stencil is statically charged and ‘jumps’ to the surface of the yoyo, it’s ruined.

This is why anodizers do a lot of splashes on either silver or acid wash backgrounds… you can’t tell where the ano flaws are because you can just bleach it our or acid wash over it and the buyer would never know there is a flaw under there. (I think I just revealed an anodizer trade secret. :P)

This is why black skittles (right) is harder than silver skittles (left). This is also why you very rarely see anodizers doing color stencils. (Silver stencils are typically just laser engravings on top of ano.)

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Hm you live in united states right? And that from birth or you did masters in usa? You also know web development right? Wow you know software as well as mechanical engineering. So cool good.and originally your Chinese or Japanese?

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How long roughly does it take to do a simple acid wash colour compared to, say the Captain America stenciled yoyo?

Does anno need “drying time” or is the YoYo ready to play within minutes?

Thanks

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Amazing stuff. I’ve been low-key snooping your photo album for a few months now… :laughing:

I’ve read a bit about anodization and the procedure.

My question is: How do you change the texture of the final anodized product (ie. grainy/rough vs. smooth glossy/mirrored)? I see some of yours are glossy and some are acid washed. Is it defined by current? Time? Sealant?

For the Space Invader one I’m guessing you anodized one of the halves at least 5 times? Pixels on the yo-yo are as precise as my NES, some serious stencil work.

Also can you re-use the acid? If not how do you dispose of the acid? (I currently work for a haz waste disposal company, so this question has crossed my mind often for those that don’t use our services).

This video of yours is also awesome

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Yes! I just moved to Santa Monica and am FINALLY closing on a new home today. I am bubbling over with excitement… the escrow (closing period) to buy this house was one of the most stressful times of my life and was honestly one of my motivations for coming back to the YYE forums/family. I’m happiest when engaging with my hobbies and I needed a place to take my mind off of the stress of the home purchase process. :slight_smile:

I’m of Chinese descent, was born in Chicago, went to boarding/prep school in New Hampshire at 14, Stanford for college and then lived in the Silicon valley for 20+ years until moving to LA last year.

I took a little computer science in high school, but always knew I was more business and people oriented. I double majored International Relations (because that’s what I found interesting) and in Economics with a focus on econometrics (because I was afraid I wouldn’t get a job with an IR degree) in college, did a masters in International Policy, was recruited by the CIA (not a joke) but turned them down to join TiVo because of the dot com boom. So despite leading tech teams, I can neither program a website nor engineer a yoyo… Hopefully this doesn’t come across as preachy, but don’t let what you study define you… I can’t count the number of ‘tech leaders’ who didn’t formally study engineering. Study what makes you happy, engage your passions and it will serve you well in whatever career you pursue. :slight_smile:

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As far as I remember, washing, prep, racking and anodizing takes roughly an hour. A simple acid wash takes 15 minutes. Sealing another 20 and then you just dry it off and you’re good to go. This is assuming everything goes as planned and you’re starting with a raw yoyo. If you’re stripping, you need to add another hour to strip the yoyo. So with a raw yoyo, say 90 minute start to finish for a simple acid wash. Theoretically you don’t need to dry the yoyo… I suppose, you could just play with it wet, which would be the equivalent of giving your yoyo a sink bath and then not bothering to dry it. :smiley:

The first Captain America Chief, including design time, probably took me 16 hours actual working time. If you include all the ones I messed up that number obviously goes way up. Once I nailed the technique (and it was still never 100%), I think my fastest Captain America took 8 hours end to end.

You can’t imagine the frustration of pouring a full day into anodizing a yoyo, getting everything lined up, the colors right, etc… then peeling off the masking and finding out a color bled outside the lines or some 1mm square blotch appeared on the red rendering the yoyo imperfect. You don’t find that out until the very end of 8 hours of work… since I’m a perfectionist, those flaws don’t meet my personal bar, so I’d scrap the whole thing and start over.

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Meaning … you would strip the ano and try again on the same yo-yo?

Are there any ill effects if you anodize the same yo-yo a few times?

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Great question!

Anodizing does change texture subtly (more below), but you need to start with a yoyo with a particular finish and then anodize that. So when I was working with Ernie from General Yo, he’d send me raw, blasted yoyos with his signature ‘blast’. One Drop would send me Pyramatte raws. CLYW sent me raws with their particular finish. Some yoyos I would strip and then just go from there or often I would mirror polish them first because it shows off the ano beautifully. Texturing/blasting/polishing yoyos is a whole separate topic and skill set with its own set of tool requirements. I didn’t have a blasting setup (although I was really close to getting one), and just relied on the manufacturers to send me their textured raws.

Anodizing itself does change the texture of the yoyo slightly… namely it adds a very slight haze to the yoyo. Perfectly mirror polished yoyos come out a wee bit less mirror like than the raw product due to the way the crystalline lattice that is grown on the yoyo reflects light. It also takes the edge off of aggressively blasted yoyos, so some yoyos with that super aggressive, sparkly look start off being every harsher string cutters… anodizing them smooths them out a little and also dulls them every so slightly.

This anodizing effect always irritated me because I really love super mirror polished yoyos where the silver/colors are blindingly bright and you can’t quite get that with a proper anodize job. It can still be quite bright, but it’s never as bright as the raw you started with.

Yes you can re-use the acid, but it eventually goes bad (increasing ano flaw rate) and you need to replace it. One always needs to dispose of acid properly. That’s as much as I’ll say about that. :stuck_out_tongue:

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