Treatment of Anodized Surfaces

As previously stated, anodizing is a common surface treatment of aluminum alloys. When this coating is damaged in service, it can only be partially restored by chemical surface treatment. Therefore, any corrosion correction of anodized surfaces should avoid destruction of the oxide film in the unaffected area. Do not use steel wool or steel wire brushes. Do not use severe abrasive materials.

Nonwoven abrasive pads have generally replaced aluminum wool, aluminum wire brushes, or fiber bristle brushes as the tools used for cleaning corroded anodized surfaces. Care must be exercised in any cleaning process to avoid unnecessary breaking of the adjacent protective film. Take every precaution to maintain as much of the protective coating as practicable. Otherwise, treat anodized surfaces in the same manner as other aluminum finishes. Chromic acid and other inhibitive treatments can be used to restore the oxide film.

Treatment of Intergranular Corrosion in Heat-Treated Aluminum Alloy Surfaces

As previously described, intergranular corrosion is an attack along grain boundaries of improperly or inadequately heat-treated alloys, resulting from precipitation of dissimilar constituents following heat treatment. In its most severe form, actual lifting of metal layers (exfoliation, see Figure 6-9) occurs.

More severe cleaning is a must when intergranular corrosion is present. The mechanical removal of all corrosion products and visible delaminated metal layers must be accomplished to determine the extent of the destruction and to evaluate the remaining structural strength of the component. Corrosion depth and removal limits have been established for some aircraft. Any loss of structural strength should be evaluated prior to repair or replacement of the part. If the manufacturer’s limits do not adequately address the damage, a designated engineering representative (DER) can be brought in to assess the damage.

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