Temperature-resistant plugs from Caplugs/Nigara Masks & Plugs.

From die cuts and liquid maskants to caps, plugs, tapes and discs, today's suppliers offer a variety of masking products to help finishing professionals save time and achieve a high-quality finish.

Masking is an essential part of any finishing process; however, it can also be a time-consuming, labor-intensive endeavor. Aware of the many challenges faced by today's finishing professionals, masking suppliers have become essential partners in finding new solutions that can save time and money, and achieve a precise, high-quality finish. Following is a roundup of some of these solutions.

Die Cuts

Argon Masking Corp.
This company specializes in tapes and masking products for powder coating, plating and anodizing operations. An in-house die-cutting plant can cut most tapes into any shape (even wording and numbers) for easy masking. The horse pictured here was cut out of its PC400 green powder coat tape. Die cuts are designed to save time and money - the user simply peels them off the backing, places them on the substrate and paints. The company also manufactures silicone and EPDM caps, plugs, pull plugs and metal hooks. Call 626.357.8743 or visitargonmasking.com

High-Temperature Masking

Caplugs/Niagara Caps & Plugs
These companies have developed a temperature-resistant material specifically for the finishing industry. Flex500Plus is designed to withstand service temperatures beyond 500°F and is suited for powder coating, plating, painting, anodizing, chemical processing and other applications. The companies supply thousands of masking parts in a range of sizes, styles and colors. Most of the parts are available in several different materials including silicone, vinyl, paper and polyester. Call 888.CAPLUGS or visitwww.caplugs.com

Interior Part Masking

Echo Engineering & Production Supplies, Inc.
Designed to mask the interior of a part tunnel and multi-level countersink holes, the Mating Plug is made from a combination of metal and rubber and can withstand high-temperature finishing processes, such as powder coating, plating and e-coating. The ability to screw the flanged plug to its mate creates the airtight seal necessary for e-coating applications. Designed to be user friendly, the plug features turn tabs on the plug ends that allow for easy application and removal. The lip on the rim of the plug guarantees that the multi-level counter sink holes are also protected. Call 888.324.6365 or visitwww.echosupply.com

Masking Products

This company's standard masking product range includes masking caps, plugs, stoppers, die cuts, tapes, tubing and sheeting, and hooks. Its patented Wishbone masking discs feature a center pull-tab design that allows users to easily find and remove discs obscured by painting or powder coating. The Wishbone system also prevents the need for costly rework of coated surfaces marred during disc removal. The design creates a pop-up center tab that is reportedly easier to apply than standard discs, and that remains visible and easy to grasp even after thick paint or coating applications to provide a savings in time and labor costs. The company's F12 tape has a 4.5 mil electrical grade glass cloth backing for easy placement and removal and is coated with 2.5 mils of silicone adhesive. This adhesive system is a crosslinked, semi-cured blend of silicone that will withstand 500°F for up to 45 minutes. The company also specializes in rubber molding for OEMs. Call 262.253.EPSI (3774) or 866.ASK.EPSI, or visitwww.epsi.com

Custom Masking

Hi-Tech Flexible Products, Inc.
This company has created thousands of custom masks for wet spray, powder coat, e-coat and plating. The products are designed to be easily applied and removed so that finishing professionals can ergonomically mask in seconds. The masks are made from fully cured Dow Corning silicone, so there is no migration to affect painting operations. Because paint will not adhere to silicone, the masks can be cleaned of paint buildup and used repeatedly. The masks can also take a very high baking temperature (up to 600°F) and can be left on the part through the oven. Call 517.783.5911 or visitwww.htfp.com

Masking/Hanging Solutions

Magic Rack®/Production Plus Corp.
Parts to be painted can often be masked by using the same hook used to hang the part. This company has used this idea for years and has developed hundreds of hooks designed to give finishing professionals line density, part control and masking, all at the same time. The hooks can be cleaned and reused multiple times to help companies save money and solve paint line problems. Call 614.492.8811 or visitwww.MagicRack.com

Magnetic Masking

Magnum Magnetics Corp.
The Magnum Masking Magnet™ is a flexible magnetic maskant that will adhere in wash systems and can be die-cut to specifications. It can provide an economical alternative for high volume and repeat masking applications. Call 800.258.0991 or 740.373.7770, or visitwww.magnummagnetics.com

Liquid Maskants

Masktec, Inc.
This company supplies liquid masking products for most metal finishing operations. The line includes masking products for electroless nickel, precious metal plating, sulfuric and chromic anodizing and chemical milling. The company was recently approved as a supplier to Bombardier for its chemical milling maskant. The newest addition to the line is Chrome Peel, which is a peelable maskant for hard chrome plating, sulfuric and chromic acid anodizing, as well as other cycles. Call 870.216.2699 or visitwww.masktec.com

Maskants for Increased Efficiency

Mighty Hook, Inc.
This company's new masking product line is designed to increase production efficiency. New products include vented caps for easier placement and removal, double-flanged pull plugs for masking internal diameters and weld nuts, conical stoppers with tabs for easier removal, and Q-Bolts for masking and hanging applications. The company's Enviro-Line™ paper masking products are designed to provide low-cost, environmentally friendly masking alternatives. The company also supplies silicone and EPDM rubber caps, plugs, tubing and specialized masking aids, and it stocks tape and masking discs in polyester, polymide, glass cloth and crepe with silicone adhesive for high- temperature coating requirements. Custom designed molded and die-cut masking products can be obtained to address specific requirements. Call 773.378.1909 or visitwww.mightyhook.com

Masking Supplies

This company manufactures caps, plugs, tapes and discs used for masking threads, holes and other areas when coating products. The product line includes vinyl dip-molded and silicone injection molded caps, tips, plugs and custom-molded items, as well as tapes and discs made of silicone, polyester and Kapton materials. The HT-201 high-temperature caps and plugs are designed to resist temperatures over 450°F, while the reusable, ultra-high-temperature silicone rubber caps and plugs can reportedly withstand temperatures over 600°F. Call 800.633.6775 or visitwww.mocap.com

Material Choices

This company offers a line of plugs and caps, including vinyl, polyethylene, silicone and EPDM products. Nitrile, natural and neoprene rubber products are also available, along with crepe, polyester, polymimide and vinyl tapes. Cap and plug materials withstand varying temperatures during masking processes. For example, vinyl withstands temperatures up to 446°F (230°C) and silicone up to 600°F (316°C). EPDM products tolerate 475°F (246°C). The most cost-effective material is the vinyl, with temperature the key factor in the decision of which material to use. Call 800.797.7876 or visitwww.stockcap.com

Editor's note: The products highlighted in this article are based on information submitted by the suppliers. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of all masking products. For information on other finishing products, turn to the "Innovations" section in this issue (p. 59) or visit www.finishingtodaymag.com and click on "Finishing Innovations."