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topic 3836

Best Masking Materials for Anodizing


What are best practice materials and methods for masking while anodizing?
Best paints?
Best plugs?
Best tapes?

Jeff Pernick
- Detroit, Michigan


One could write a book about the best masking techniques and materials and still not answer your questions. I worked in a shop that did selective hardcoat for IBM, Boeing, and others, and we usually found that each part had its own quirks and oddities. This is one area that is more art and intuition than science. We usually had a few women who did masking almost all the time (sorry guys, women did a better job than men, since they had more patience and better dexterity). These employees made more than the standard rackers, since their work required more skill.

As to who makes masking materials, there are several firms who make a living selling plugs, tapes, paints, even plastic screws for masking. Some are probably listed in the suppliers' section of this site, and "Products Finishing" now has their suppliers' Directory at their PFOnline site. We used to like to visit the masking vendors' booths at the Trade Shows such as SurFin, and with just a little bit of talking, they become most willing to send samples of the masking devices which they sell, and they would also express their willingness to make custom masking if the volume warranted it. We ended up using several suppliers, because we would find one plug from one vendor, and another plug or tape from another vendor.

One trick we learned when using tape or paint, whether it was required or not, was to give the parts a light conversion coating prior to application of paint or tape. It dramatically improved the chances that the tape or paint would stick through the whole process without undercutting or even lifting off the surface, which can be a disaster, of course.

phil johnson
Phil Johnson
- Madison Heights, Michigan


We also limited our hiring of women to jobs that were too boring for a machine:-0 (!)

But I am sure that women end up in the masking department because they are denied the opportunity to work in the plating shop, where the pay is higher, the work is easier, and there is a chance for promotion and a raise.

Never, NEVER, use the plating shop as shortcut to anywhere else. Every time the boss, or someone from another department walks through, they always want to know why all the men are standing around in circles, smoking, chatting, or reading. The tanks are loaded up, and its another 25 minutes before its time to pull on the old rubber chemical rubber gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to go retrieve the racks. That's the kind of job those women maskers would really want, if they could get 'em.

tom pullizzi monitor
Tom Pullizzi
Falls Township,


It is surprising that out of the 50 thousand readers' letters on line here, on a website where no one's opinions are censored, that only a tiny handful of letters involve any sort of political controversy, Tom.

It is clearly true that not long ago it was difficult for women to break into fields like medicine, law and politics . . . but to assert that willing women are being denied jobs in plating shops today? And to imply that such jobs are cushy?!

125 degrees, 100 percent humidity, condensate dripping down your neck from overhead pipes. Balancing a helmet on your head, while wearing goggles and a respirator so you can neither see nor breathe. And a very heavy, sloppy rubber apron pulling on your neck, oversize clumsy boots, slimy elbow length rubber gloves, all trying to slip down on you, all held in place by cramped & spastic body contortions, all day. Now, ladies, dressed like that,balance that slimy 700 pound drum of liquid caustic soda against your body, and roll it on its rim over the greasy grating. Day after day, for 7 or 8 dollars an hour.

Right, women are begging for this opportunity to be promoted to this lower paying (Phil already noted that the maskers earned more than the plating shop workers) job from hell, but are routinely denied it: Earth to Pullizzi, Earth to Pullizzi :-)

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"


Hi Tom, I noticed the comments about women platers. Whatever you do, don't let me boss hear you say that (she's my mother too BTW). She's been running plating/anodizing lines for 36 years. We've tried to convince her to pick up some work in the office and train someone to run the line(s). No can do, she does it 8+ hours a day for 30+ years. Yep, I'll agree with you, women would LOVE this job if they could get a hold on it, heck my boss won't let it go :)

Matthew Stiltner
plating company - Toledo, Ohio

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