Etch Titanium Now, Anodize Later

Sometimes it’s handy to prepare a titanium piece with Multi-Etch and then protect the piece in a way that allows you to set it aside and anodize later. 

One simple way is to Multi-Etch the piece, rinse, and then store in a tank of DI or distilled water. We’ve found this lasts at least 2-3 days, and probably longer. 

A second way is to Multi-Etch and then “base coat” your titanium part with 8-10 volts. Those parts can then be stored dry and the base coating will protect the piece for a long time.  We’ve stored pieces that way for years and been able to anodize them in the same brilliant colors we can produce when we are working with freshly Multi-Etched pieces. The only drawback with base-coating is that there will be a light tan on the piece, so if you need part of the piece to remain the natural color of titanium, base coating won’t work for you.

A third way that works on flat pieces is to Multi-Etch the piece and then cover and apply anodizers’ tape on the flat piece, burnishing thoroughly to make sure you cover the whole piece completely. You should cut the tape big enough to fold over the edges.

The concept with these three methods is to prevent the formation of the oxide layer that Multi-Etch is designed to remove.

Happy anodizing!


Precision Etching

Since Multi-Etch is not as aggressive as hydrofluoric acid, it excels in removing amounts of titanium as thin as fractions of a micron. This allows for precise removal of material that is difficult to achieve with the blunt action of hydrofluoric acid.

Copyright © Synchrotron Soleil, used with permission

Copyright © Synchrotron Soleil, used with permission

For example, a U.S. laboratory uses Multi-Etch to fine-tune their microwave chambers. Multi-Etch is also used with several particle accelerators in the U.S. and Europe to remove minute amounts of titanium.  Besides being able to achieve these precision operations, Multi-Etch, in whatever way it is used, is vastly safer than hydrofluoric acid.

Copyright © David J Morgan, used with permission

Copyright © David J Morgan, used with permission

Contact us today to see whether Multi-Etch will fulfill your application needs.

Multi-Etch's Pilgrimage to the Discovery Site of Titanium

The plaque we made to commemorate the discovery of Titanium.

In 1990, we were honored with a commission to make a plaque of titanium commemorating the discovery of titanium in Cornwall, England. We were given some materials by the Titanium Development Association (now the International Titanium Association) to help design the plaque, including a copy of a painting of the discoverer Rev. William Gregor. We included a glass vial of ilmenite (from which titanium can be refined), titanium sponge, an ingot of titanium, and some mill products.

Gregor found the titanium near the parish church of Manaccan and, as he was visiting the church’s rector, Richard Polwhele, the Titanium Development Association presented the commemorative plaque to that church.

Since 1990, we have asked several people to visit “our” plaque when they visited UK but we didn’t realize how far Manaccan is from the usual UK tourist destinations. Then, in 2007, our daughter began a year’s internship in London and we finally had the needed push to visit the plaque and the location where titanium was discovered.

Here is a map showing Manaccan’s location:

Map of Manaccan

In Falmouth, we met local historian and author Derek Carter, who, along with his wife Susanne, acted as invaluable guides in Manaccan and the area called “The Lizard” which includes the southwestern part of Cornwall. Their beautifully detailed tour included fascinating information about U.S. forces in Cornwall during World War II, when Cornwall was called the 49th State due to the overwhelming number of American serviceman. Derek co-wrote, with Viv Acton, two books about this period. The first is Operation Cornwall 1940-1944, The Fal, the Helford and D-Day and the second is Cornish War and Peace: The Road to Victory - and Beyond. Both are full of compelling details and first-person narratives.

We took a beautiful drive along the coast, up the Helford River to Gweek, on to pick up Susanne at their home in St. Martin, and then to the church at Manaccan.


For many years we thought the church in Manaccan was Rev. Gregor’s church but in fact, Rev. Gregor was vicar of Creed parish church. However, he paid frequent visits to his friend Rev. Polwhele who was vicar at the Manaccan church. It was during one of these visits that Rev. Gregor discovered some unusual black sand in the water of Tregonwell Mill, near the church. Upon detailed analysis he realized it was a new mineral which he named menachanite or manaccanite, also known as ilmenite, which contains titanium.

A few years later, M. H. Klaproth discovered titanium in rutile ore in Germany, later realizing it was the same material Gregor had found and crediting Gregor with the original discovery. But Klaproth’s name for the material—titanium—is the name that stuck.

The Manaccan church was begun in the 13th century and has many lovely Norman details. Here are Chris and Derek outside the entrance, across from what used to be the vicarage: