The impossible tap

Gustavsberg recently launched a new generation of bathroom taps where the choice of aluminium extrusions caused serious doubts among the 'know-it-alls' but the end result was even better than expected!

March 3, 2009

When the Swedish company Villeroy & Boch Gustavsberg began looking at aluminium as a material for a new generation of bathroom taps, for design and production reasons as well as environmental reasons, there were many with doubts.

"Technically impossible," said some. "Too far-fetched."

However, together with Hydro's Scandinavian extrusion unit and the company's research department, it was not long before the problems were solved, with the perfect choice of alloy and the best surface treatment.

The result is Coloric, an approved aluminium tap that has aroused considerable interest in both Sweden and abroad.

Outside the box, replacing brass

The main part of Gustavsberg's range of ordinary and mixer taps are made of brass. However, a development program that combined the ambitions of making production more efficient and cost effective - with the desire to create a new generation of fittings - required thinking outside the box when selecting materials.

"I had noticed that aluminium was being used as a design and construction material when it comes to household appliances, and the idea of an aluminium mixer tap just grew," says Jonas Jern, product manager at Gustavsberg.

"The environmental aspects with a totally recyclable product were also very important."

Experts were less enthusiastic. The common belief was that putting aluminium in a sanitary environment, where it would also be used in transporting water, would create major corrosion risks.

Then they called Hydro.

First time ever

The unique shape for the tap was created during in-house development work.

It started with the blank, a homogeneous, round aluminium extrusion that is converted into the final product through turning, milling and tapping. Afterwards, it is surface treated by color anodizing and fitted with a control lever of chrome plated zinc.

Further, the Coloric mixer tap has undergone both external and internal corrosion tests – including simulating 10 years' use – at Hydro's R&D department in Karmøy, Norway.

The right choice of alloy and surface treatment enables it to withstand water and all the oils, chemicals and solvents one expects to find in a bathroom - except chlorine, which can cause the anodizing layer to fade somewhat.

Connecting the pipes to the mixer is through stainless steel nipples – no base metals can be used – in order to avoid galvanic corrosion.

All objectives met

Today, Coloric is a series of taps for washbasins, baths and shower mixer taps. "We have achieved all of our objectives," says Jern.

"Aluminium makes savings in both material costs and more effective production. The design is unique, the feeling of quality high, and the environmental aspects with simple recycling very important.

"Furthermore," says Jern, "we are first – nobody has done this before."

The Coloric taps are available in five standard colors, natural, champagne, blue, black and red. More important, consumer interest has been great in both Scandinavia and abroad.

Updated: October 11, 2016