Durability of adhesive bonded joints in moisture and salt spray environments is essential to USAF aircraft. Structural bonding technology for aerospace applications has depended for many years on the preparation of aluminum surfaces by a sulfuric acid/sodium dichromate (FPL etch) treatment. Recently, specific thin film anodizing techniques, phosphoric acid, and chromic acid anodizing have been developed which not only provide good initial bond strengths but vastly improved environmental durability. These thin anodic films are in contrast to the commonly used thick anodic films such as the sulfuric acid or "hard" sulfuric acid anodic films which are highly corrosion resistant in themselves, but which do not provide good initial bond strengths, particularly in low temperature peel.
The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of anodic films on aluminum alloys that make them corrosion resistant. The chemical composition, physical morphology and structure, and mechanical properties of the thin oxide films were to be defined and correlated with the environmental stability of these surfaces in humidity and salt spray. It is anticipated that anodic film characteristics and corrosion resistance will vary with the anodizing processing conditions.