Help with choosing masking materials

When it comes to custom molded masking, a good masking supplier will have access to a range of materials. Here is an overview of a few of the materials that can be used to manufacture masks.

Silicone - the material of choice for powder coating masks.

When it comes to high temperatures, silicone rubber is hard to beat. It can be produced relatively cheaply, it can easily be colour coded and molded to almost any form. Able to withstand temperatures up to 316°C / 600°F, silicone stretches easily, resists compression and is available in a number of different hardnesses, making it ideal for custom masking. Silicone has a number of forms and names including Ultrabake ®.

Neoprene - a good choice for plating applications.

Neoprene is a very versatile rubber it can be color coded, just like silicone. Able to withstand temperatures up to 177°C / 350°F Neoprene has its place in both plating and low temperature painting. Neoprene’s ability to resist abrasion also makes it a good choice for blasting processes.

Flouroelastomer (FKM) – a chemical resistant rubber.

FKM was developed to resist aggressive chemicals, so it works well in chemical treatment applications. Molding with FKM can be a specialised process and it’s important to check your masking supplier is used to dealing with this material.

Vinyl - the traditional choice for wet paint processes.

Vinyl caps are a mainstay of the wet paint industry for masking studs, screws or shafts. Vinyl is available in numerous colours and can handle temperatures up to 177°C / 350°F

High temperature vinyl – a high temperature option.

If you cannot use silicone in your process, then a high temperature vinyl is worth considering. High temperature vinyl can be formulated to resist temperatures of 246°C / 475°F. High temperature vinyl products are often given names such as Flex500 ® in order to ensure they stand out from the traditional vinyl products.

LDPE – a low temperature plastic.

Most masking suppliers have a range of protection products, which are made from LDPE. LDPE is a low temperature material able to withstand temperatures up to 79°C / 175°F so those parts can be used for masking.

This is just a brief overview of some of the main materials for masking. A good masking supplier will be able to help you choose the most suitable material for your application and supply a sample so you can test it in your process.

Written by John the article was published in Surface World Magazine.

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Help with masking materials