How can I paint my titanium glasses frames?
November 4, 2008 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way for me to paint my titanium glass frames? (And be somewhat durable and look decent.)

I have a pair of titanium frames that were getting pretty scuffed up so I stripped them with some 000 steel wool. Now they look great, but they're a lot too flashy for me. I'd like to get them back to black, but everything I read tells me that nothing sticks to titanium.

Is there any hope? I'm reasonably handy in the arts and crafts area and I'm willing to go through a fair amount of effort. (Short of the replacement cost of the frames of course.)
posted by Ookseer to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Maybe not as cheap as a can of spray paint, but infinitely more durable: you could have them powder coated. Look in your local phone book under "powder coating". If you go this route, have the shop doing the work mask off the inside of the frames, where the lenses mount, or the added thickness of the new finish will prevent the lenses from seating properly. They should also mask off the inside contact edges of the hinges (if any), for the same reason. I've powder coated a fair number of automotive parts, and the results are almost always significantly better/more durable than anything I could hope to accomplish with a can of spray paint. The trick is to have someone who is very detail oriented do the masking.

Cost should be < $25, although that may vary depending on the amount of time it takes to do the masking.
posted by mosk at 4:00 PM on November 4, 2008

You probably canĀ“t get them to the same black they were:
Q: I've seen "black" titanium. What is that, and can you make it?

You can anodize them to various colors, but black is not one of those colors. The anodized coating is very thin and scratches easily, but they can be reanodized. This is easy to do if you have a power supply around the house, but if you are not comfortable working with electricity and liquids you should probably hire it out. (no experience with that company myself)
posted by yohko at 7:06 PM on November 4, 2008

You might be able to treat them with a wipe on gun bluing. This isn't as good as what a gun smith would be doing, but it's not like they're going to rust or anything.

There are some electrochemical techniques you could play with. The book that is recommended in Tim McCreight's Complete Metalsmith (one of those books with just enough info to get you into trouble) is Studio Preparations and Coloring of Titanium by William Seely. You also might want to try titanium plus bluing, blackening and patina in google.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:03 PM on November 4, 2008

Thanks. I didn't know about powder coating. I need to talk with a few more companies in my area, but it seem the most promising for my requirements.

For future reference there is no way to use electrolysis to turn it black (just about every other color, however.) I did find a method of applying a coating via electrolysis that takes paint well, but the materials were a couple hundred dollars. And most of the results for "titanium" and "blueing" or "blackening" turn up patent filings rather than products.

Calling around tol local jewelry makers got a lot of "no, that's not something we do" responses
posted by Ookseer at 12:02 PM on November 5, 2008

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