Engineered Mechanical Finishes on Aluminum

Interest in authentic materials for decorative trim has inspired Northern Engraving to explore the creation of new looks on aluminum using mechanical processes.  Mechanical finishes rely on processes which remove metal by abrasion or processes which apply a texture by mechanical force.  This exploration focused on abrasion of the aluminum surface.

silver fountain pen
textured fountain pen

Inspiration for the series of finishes came from limited edition and vintage pens.  Fountain pens have long been admired for the attention to detail in their designs.  Engraved and inlaid surfaces create a look of distinctive quality and high precision.

mechanical finishes used on watch faces

Watchmakers and the detail-oriented approach they take to creating exacting looks were also inspiration for this series.  The suggestive look of watches with extensive references to high-performance cars immediately draws the eye.

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This exploration began by building on our traditional engine stripe finishes.  These surfaces are polished arcing brushes that create visual depth.  The arcs face in the same direction.  A variety of widths for the engine stripes create different looks.

NEC-105-A   NEC-113-A

We started by asking what if the arcs were spaced out and applied in both directions?  The result was a unique look that created a  secondary pattern with the interlocking arcs.  The outside of the stripe had tightly spaced diamond shapes that morphed into larger diamonds in the middle of the stripe.  The arced brush contrasted nicely with bright aluminum.  We found that we could change the appearance in a number of ways.  Some of the variables explored included the width of the arc, the amount of bright aluminum showing through and the smoothness of the arc.

NEC-105-C   NEC-105-C-Blue

These first finishes were only a starting point.  We created an entire series of finishes around this theme.  Our primary focus was on the structures created with the interlocking arcs.  Further exploration centered around the possibilities achieved through layering transparent tints of color on the mechanical finishes.  A cool grey tint of color created a more subtle effect, while vibrant transparent colors created a completely different look, drawing attention to the surface.

NEC-105-D  NEC-114-E

We are excited by the possibilities these finishes offer designers.  The inlaid effect on fountain pens can be duplicated through selective application of these finishes.  For example, a high gloss bright graphic can be inlaid into the low gloss mechanical finish creating a premium look.  Selective texture or color can be applied to further customize the metal surfaces.

How would you customize these mechanical finishes?  What products could you see these applied to?