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Masking solutions: Selection matters

09 April 2018

In highly competitive global industries, all aspects of developing and engineering are constantly in the spotlight with continuous improvement always near the top of the agenda. Hadleigh Enterprises believes that component masking considerations merit close attention across the manufacturing and engineering sector.

From engineering to electronic production and from aerospace to automotive manufacturing, surface treatment is a key consideration. The more complex the design, the more focused this process can become – not least because it can have a direct bearing on quality, performance and therefore, ultimately, reputation and profitability.

While there are many process operations that come together in this context, component masking during surface treatment and finishing operations is fundamental and is an issue that Hadleigh Enterprises has been addressing for some 45 years. The Essex-based company sources tape products from leading manufacturers and then machines them into rolls, discs or bespoke shapes to suit each customer’s precise needs. 

“The idea that products in the masking sector have no particular or differentiating performance characteristics is not only wrong, but can have significant consequences – from cost and efficiency to even safety,” David Ogles, managing director of Hadleigh Enterprises, says.  

“Many in manufacturing will understand, for example, the challenge of removing tape from the substrate after processing. This can depend on the persistence of the operator and the sharpness of his blade with product damage and throughput delays often the result,” he continues. “Yet by understanding the different types of masking materials and their performance capabilities, such issues and methods can and should be consigned to history.”  

Ogles says that by simply selecting a tape product that uses silicone rather than rubber adhesive, this problem can be readily overcome.  “The potential cost of removal and, in some cases, re-working, re-painting and even consequent damage to a product’s integrity, can be avoided,” he adds.

Tight tolerances

The company says that the question of masking should be considered as early in a production process as possible and regularly looks to work closely with a customer’s design team to best match the shape and contour of a component’s target area.  Often working as a result from technical drawings, Hadleigh produces masking solutions to extremely tight tolerances to help ensure the manufacturing process is as effective as possible. Slitting accuracy, for example, can be achieved to just +/- 0.2mm. One key factor of particular note in this context is the company’s willingness to supply material in any quantity – from bulk orders to a single roll. The latter offers a clear benefit for those involved in design and prototyping operations ahead of full production commitment.   

Hadleigh draws attention to several factors which it believes are often overlooked when specifying masking products – such as the selection of materials which can help ensure process heat requirements are accommodated. David Ogles highlights the ability to fulfil metal-to-metal applications and high temperature capability of up to 380°C as good performance examples.  

If in the past the issue of masking products has been at best an afterthought or, worse, not considered at all. Today the services of companies such as Hadleigh Enterprises mean there is no reason why the benefits that can arise from closer scrutiny should be ignored. The variation in masking product types and in application methods, together with a supply of tape that is machined to high accuracy using the most suitable material, can add a vital quality dimension to an end product.