Masking material - Making it easy

Help with choosing materials for maskingWhen 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 with-stand temperatures up to 316ºC / 600ºF, 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 177ºC / 350ºF 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 177ºC / 350ºF

High temperature vinyl ­– a high temperature option

If you cannot use silicone in your process, then a high temperature vinyl is worth considering. High temp-erature vinyl can be formulated to resist temperatures of 246ºC / 475ºF. 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 79ºC / 175ºF 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 such as Caplugs or Greentree 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.

John D. Gill

John D. Gill is an Engineer with experience in masking and product protection throughout the UK, Europe and USA. He can be reached at and via Twitter @masking101