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An article introducing the benefits of masking to the surface finish industry.

Whether it is for anodizing, powder coating or e-coat, masking is generally left until the last minute. As a result, it is usually a rushed job that is done just before the parts enter the finishing area. Because it is rushed, masking isn’t always consistent and is blamed for quality issues and inconsistencies on the final product. Those quality issues and inconsistencies can quickly consume your team’s time, energy and resources.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. Review the finishing jobs you do on a regular basis and invest in some custom masking for them. Custom masking doesn’t have to be expensive. Where there is a cost involved, the pay back period can be relatively fast. Costs are easily justified when the parts you treat are processed faster without rework and with a consistent finish, time after time.

A good masking supplier will be able to offer a number of cost effective solutions for you, three of which are as follows.

Pre-cut shapes.

The most basic of custom masking solutions involves pre-cut shapes that you simply peel off and stick onto the area of the part that you want to mask. It doesn’t come much simpler than this. You receive a roll of pre-cut shapes, peel them off the roll and stick them on the part. No more cutting around tape with a knife or chopping up tape to make it fit the part. Simply discuss the shape you need with the masking supplier and they will cut you a sample. Test the sample for fit and order the rolls you need. Pre-cut or die cut masks can be made in a variety of materials to suit your finishing process.

Secondary operation.

Most masking and protection suppliers offer a large range of standard parts and a good supplier will be able to work with you to turn a standard item into a custom part. In a lot of cases a masking and protection supplier can take a part they produce in volume on a regular basis and perform a secondary operation on it to change an element. This secondary operation effectively takes a standard part and turns it into a custom part. It may be that a diameter of a flange is reduced or a length is shortened for you. You may require a standard cap with a series of holes cut in it to mask an item. Secondary operations are a cost effective way of producing a custom masking solution.

Custom molded solution.

Parts that are custom molded just for your job. Masks are delivered; you take them out of the box and put them on the part to mask it quickly and efficiently. This is what a lot of people see as custom masking. A good masking supplier usually has a system set up to help guide you through the process of manufacturing a custom solution. Your masking supplier should be able to show you their system and describe how the process will work. With a small amount of input from you it is possible for you to have a custom masking solution that is built for the job you do. That solution will be capable of producing quality parts consistently and will be able to pass through your finishing system a number of times before you need to consider replacing it.

Written by John the article was published in Finishing Magazine.

Finishing Magazine is a UK based publication for the metal finishing and surface coating industry. Finishing magazine is circulated to members of the Surface Engineering Association and to professionals in the metal finishing industry.

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