Anodizing robot

First off our team has no interest in powder coating or anodizing our robot. I am merely bored and curious. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way:
How do you guys get color on your robot?
Powder coating is pretty cool but from what I think it needs to be assembled and then taken apart, powder coated, and then re assembled.

How about anodizing? Can you just anodize some stock before the season and then cut it and then assemble.
I might look into getting an anodizing company sponsorship and we might get our parts anodized if we end up making an off season bot.

We’ve powder coated in house for the last two years. We bought an OTS powder coating gun and baked the parts in the kiln in our metal shop. This past season we purchased a very large oven specifically for powder coating. You could also use a standard kitchen oven but it would no longer be food safe. We typically make the parts for both our practice and competition robots simultaneously, assemble the practice robot, then powder coat and assemble the comp bot a week or so after. Provided you have an oven big enough, you could theoretically powder coat the whole robot minus the heat sensitive bits like electronics. Everything needs to be cleaned and sand blasted though so it’s easier to do parts separately.

Aniline dye and lacquer. Although most of the time we skipped the dye and just sprayed some clear coat on there… you don’t need paint or powder when you start with a beautiful material. :slight_smile:


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Why would you need to assemble a robot and then disassemble it for powder coating? You absolutely don’t need to do this at all, and I’m not sure what purpose it would serve.

Barring the fact that anodizing your stock pre-season would be a violation of 2019 and recent manufacturing rules, anodizing stock wouldn’t be too much different than powder coating your stock.

Most cosmetic anodizing with colors is known as type 2. It’s not quite as resilient as type 3 or hard coat anodize. I’ve noticed thinner type 2 applications can actually scrape off just as easily as a halfway decent powder coating job.

Check out this article on anodizing, it’s a good read.

If you must color your robot, I hear some iconic colors have been achieved with spray paint.

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That’s what I thought. What if you need to change a bar? It would expose the uncolored bar underneath

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Anodizing is limited in material type, but adds a hardened surface that is more wear resistant.

Hmm didn’t know it’s illegal to powder coat or anodize preseason probably won’t be doing that then!

You can certainly powdercoat before assembly. Youu can also powdercoat after some assembly as long as you don’t mind painting over some fasteners and it looking kind of crappy if you ever have to take it apart. Most teams powdercoat one piece at a time except for weldments or other more permanent assemblies.

I don’t know of any team that builds the robot, takes the entire thing apart, powdercoats each individual piece, and then puts it back together again. Maybe they build an uncoated practice robot first, though.

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First of all: I was in the same boat, before the season I thought powder coating is a waste of time and we need to focus on functionality and practice.
But powdercoating looks awesome. Really, really awesome. Part of that awesome is that it covers over a lot of defects on the robot such as scratches and it makes the overall bot look more professional.

The way my team does it is that we manufacture the practice and real bots at the same time. Then we rivet and weld what we can on the main bot and send it out to powder coating. As that is happening, we build out the practice bot. I don’t know if a team that only builds one bot would want to build once beforehand but I don’t see why you couldn’t just send it off to get powder coated/anodized and then build it the first time.

Also even if anodizing stock was legal, a challenge would be that on the sides of the tube it would still be gray once you cut the stock, so it would look ugly.


One thing to note however is that powdercoating adds a significant amount of weight to the robot, for my team it was about 5 pounds.

Sadly, it chose to follow the route of 330.

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We use Van Sickle tractor enamel spray paints. I think we are New Holland Yellow but I forget exactly.

We painted a few times this year because they decided to paint really early then had to make some holes changes that made retouching pretty extensive. It is always a little challenging to decide the right time to paint. If you put it off too long you probably will skip paint and if to early you’ll want to do it again after changes.

This year we fully powder coated our robot for the first time, it was actually much easier then you would think, basically we carded our robot and gather enough metal and cut everything for a practice bot then assembled a rough outline of what our robot would look like, then we got the rest of the stock metal and got it cnced to what we wanted, then we went to another local team (5460) and we brought all our powder (only about $60) and then coated and baked at their shop, the whole process took no more than a day max and the actual powder coating only was a few hours, when we changed stuff on our robot we had a smaller over we would typically just bake stuff it, overall would recommend it and it’s not that difficult.


The gun we used was the DIY gun from Eastwood. Super simple. Put those old robot bags to use and make a small powder chamber and go to town.

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Our team has used both powder coating and anodizing to color our robot for many years now. All of the neon yellow on the robot is powder coat, and all of the blue is anodized. We have standards for what types of parts get powder coated and what parts get anodized, so after we’ve designed the robot and manufactured all of our parts, we send them off to two different sponsors for anodizing and powder coating and we usually get them back in a couple days. Powder coating at least for us usually adds about 3-5 lbs of weight every year, but it looks way better than metal anodized neon yellow so it’s worth it for us. We’ve won Imagery 16 times in 17 seasons, even winning it at Worlds this year so we find the coloring of our robot to be just as critical and aspect as the rest of the design. We also usually have some stock material that’s already been powder coated or anodized leftover from previous seasons that we can use should we need to cut new parts for the robot after we’ve sent off our parts to be colored. Hope this was helpful!

Hate to break it to you, but that’s not legal. Once you powder-coat the part, you take it from COTS stock to a modified part. Even if you then cut it down further, the part you’re using is still modified from it’s original form. Unless you buy your stock pre-coated or pre-anodized, any powder-coated or anodized parts going on the robot need to be done after kickoff. We’ll see with the new (lack of) bag rules whether this remains true for the upcoming season.

We spray paint our robots using a light coat of Krylon, no primer. Every year we get compliments of people asking if we powder coated because it always turns out very nice. We invested in making our own paint booth this past season to make painting better to provide adequate lighting. We did have some tubes on our elevator hard coat anodized but that’s due to having surfaces that wouldve been scratch by rolling or sliding, along with possibly leaving gouges.


For the past few years we have used automotive vinyl to wrap our robot. It comes in many colors and we can do it after assembly. If it nicked or scratched you can re-do it fairly easily. We have found a local supplier, but it is also available on amazon.

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We did something this year a little off the beaten path and actually colored our robot with a ton of sharpie in the pits at worlds. We have powder coated in the past by going to our local maker space and bringing our own powder, but we purely ran out of time, so after seeing 2522 do it on r/FRC, we figured we’d do the same.

For anyone looking to try it, make sure you have about 6 hours and at least 10 king size or magnum sharpies. It turned out fairly okay with most people not even believing that we used sharpie, but you could definitely see the strokes up-close.