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As finishers enter the 21st century, they need to mask parts faster and more accurately than ever before while staying within strict budget constraints. Masking companies are addressing this issue with custom die-cuts.
Tape die-cuts offer many benefits over masking by hand:
- They cut labor costs significantly.
- They reduce material waste.
- They help to reduce employee injuries by eliminating the need for knives or scissors.
- They improve the quality of the finished part.
- They reduce rework or rejects.
A custom die-cut kit
Parts with custom die-cuts
In addition, die-cut kits, such as the one shown in Figure 1, work as another quality control check. When all the parts of the kit are used, the masker knows that the part is completely masked. Figure 2 shows parts masked with custom die-cuts.
Masking companies will need the answers to the following questions to recommend the custom die-cut best suited to your application:
- In what process do you coat your parts (powder coating, e-coating, other)?
- In what temperature ranges will the product be used and for how long?
- To what chemicals will the mask be exposed?
- To what surface or substrate will the mask adhere (stainless steel, aluminum, other)?
A masking supplier can determine which tape backing, adhesive, and liner components will be best-suited for your application. Once you select a tape, the masking supplier will need the specific dimensions of the area to be protected. You can provide one of the following:
- A detailed drawing of the part referencing the masked area
- An actual part with the masked area shown
- A sketch of the proposed die-cut
- An e-mailed computer-assisted design (CAD) drawing
It's also important to let the supplier know how many masks you'll need, as this will help to determine if a steel-rule or rotary tool should be used. Laser-cut steel-rule tools are suitable for lower volumes and have a tolerance of ±005 inch. EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) rotary tools are for higher volumes and have a tolerance of ±002 inch. You should also specify if you want your custom die-cut on a roll or on sheets.
Most companies provide a quote and samples of the custom die-cut with no upfront charges, usually within 1 day. This enables you to test and review the benefits of the die-cut without any initial cost. After you've placed an order, you're usually charged a small tooling fee. This is a one-time fee that includes the setup charge. Tooling costs vary depending on the complexity of the die-cut but usually range between $100 and $300. Generally, a custom die-cut order will be ready within 2 weeks of your approval of the sample.
The old ways of masking are no longer a viable option. Volumes are too large, and quality requirements demand precision masking. Custom die-cuts and die-cut kits solve these problems while saving money, labor, and resources. PC
Thanks to the Technical Support Team at Shercon, 10425 Slusher Dr., Santa Fe Springs, CA; 562/946-8555.
For a list of companies that make die-cut masking devices, see the heading "masking devices" in the Reference & Buyer's Resource Issue, Powder Coating, vol. 10, no. 9 (December 1999), pp. 72-74.