When learning more about powder coating, one term that is very important to be aware of is ‘masking’. Masking does what the name implies – one or more areas of an item to be powder coated might need be masked, or covered, to prevent certain areas from becoming powder-coated and/or colorized.
The high-temperature polyester masking tape used in powder-coating is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill tape since it can comfortably withstand more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit without becoming compromised. Fourth-inch tape is very useful for masking smaller areas while two-inch tape is useful for larger areas, with various other widths, in-between. To make masking even easier, high-temp dot-shaped tapes are available in various sizes and are the perfect solution for circular areas that must remain powder-coating free. Also, fiberglass tape is more flexible on irregular and curved surfaces while blue mylar high-temp tape provides less flexibility but achieves a sharper line.
Silicone plugs are another handy way to mask specific areas. They are tapered and work beautifully to mask off bolt holes, for instance. Not only do these plugs come in hundreds of sizes, but they will not degrade in the oven and can be reused! Silicone caps serve the same purpose as the plugs but they are designed and shaped to fit over studs.
There are two important reasons why masking is utilized with powder-coating:
To Target Specific Areas
Depending on what item will be powder-coated, masking can be a very tedious procedure, but in many cases, it is a necessary one. For example, connective parts of an item that were not masked, but should have been, will not be able to reconnect once the powder coating has dried. This is because powder coating ends up as being much thicker and harder than the majority of paints. In vehicle parts, especially, there are assemblies that fit with very tight tolerances; and certain areas must not be powder-coated, at all. Also, if a car’s starter, for example, were completely powder coated, all bare-metal surfaces would be covered, disallowing any electrical connection. Thanks to masking, however, certain areas that must bypass any powder-coating will be left alone.
Let’s assume you desire to powder-coat the spoke wire wheels of your car, in two contrasting colors – masking would provide the perfect, seamless solution. If the lip were to be powder coated in black, for instance, the spokes would be masked to prevent those pieces from becoming the same color. Later, the lip would be masked while the spokes would be powder coating in a contrasting color, such as silver. Voile`! You end up with stunning, two-toned wheels, thanks to the convenience of masking.
To Create Designs
Various detailed masking techniques allow one to create words, logos, designs and personalized artwork of almost any kind. Whether your passion is cycles, go carts, golf carts, your car or truck, or your gun collection, you can achieve virtually any design that suits your fancy.
When a part is masked off, the tape can remain on the part the entire time it is being cured in the oven. However, there are times when the tape can be removed before the entire curing process is complete. Those who are experienced with masking during powder coating, know when an item can be pulled from the oven in order to remove select pieces of masking tape. Once the masking tape is removed, items can be transferred back into the oven to reheat; but to avoid errors of any kind, removing masking tape early requires a great deal of insight and skill with the masking and powder coating process.
With specialty and custom projects, masking can create aesthetics one might only have dreamed of! There is no need to limit yourself to a single color of powder coat when two-tone and multi-color options can be easily achieved, thanks to masking. From cycle wheels to faucets to personal gun collections, to patio furniture – masking allows powder-coating to take on a whole new dimension where the ideas remain endless!