News You Can Use

Masking

Winter, 2020

Custom parts don’t just save time – there are more options than ever to save money and enhance the services you can offer, too. From single cavity molded parts tools to plotter cutters making one-off or low quantity die cuts, learn about some of the specialized options that exist.

Products that get coated in some way – whether it be powder coating, anodizing, plating, wet spray painted, or something else – have become increasingly specialized. To be sure, there is the automotive market, for example, where tens or hundreds of thousands of similar parts get finished. But for many jobs, the specialization required can be for quantities in the mere hundreds or even mere tens of parts at a time – occasionally even just one-offs.

Is that economical? Affordable? The answer may surprise you. (Hint: It's "yes.")

For the manufacturer or metal finisher, customization at low quantities can make for some challenging masking decisions, especially when the geometry of the part is complex enough to require more than just a tape disk or standard plug. But services Viadon has been able to offer for a long time are lower quantities of not just custom die cut tape masks, but even molded parts from single cavity molds – with low or no tooling costs depending on the part and material. And there are even more options now as well.

Here is a brief look at each option and how these could save you time and money and give you a competitive edge.

Plotter made die cuts at Viadon

Plotter made tape die cuts

Viadon has had a plotter cutter since we opened in 2000. It’s basically a knife blade that moves back and forth along one axis, with pinch rollers that feed and retract the material along the other axis.

When tape is applied to a liner and fed through the plotter, the blade cuts the tape and leaves the liner intact.

This is an ideal way to produce accurate, lesser quantities of die cuts - with NO tooling cost.

In general, if we are going to provide these die cuts to a customer, the typical practical quantity is usually in the 50 to 200 pieces range. This does depend on complexity and total area – contact us for details.

For most requests, we supply plotter-cut die cuts from green polyester tape on a liner. This is a widely used masking material for many coating applications.

Some customers even use it for testing the shape first even if they wind up ordering a hard tool utilizing a different tape material later.

Plotter made die cuts in-house by you

Lined green polyester tape

As the price of plotters has come down and they are more widely available, customers have been purchasing their own to create short runs of custom shapes, kits of die cuts, or even just one-off masks when necessary.

Since that began, Viadon has made their green polyester tape on a liner available for anyone looking to make their own short run custom die cuts.

And other tape materials may also be available – contact us for more information. A question we are often asked is “What plotter-cutter should we get?”

The unsatisfying answer is: It depends.

While Viadon has a work-horse plotter made by IoLine (made in America, with little maintenance required), there are certainly other options that are of good quality.

Obviously budget is an issue. It also depends on how often you will use it, and what width of material you plan to run through it – that is to say, “How large of a die cut do you want to make?”

While there are certainly smaller/cheaper ones out there, we work with customers that use plotter-cutter models from Roland and US Cutter, that tend to be of a higher quality, and importantly, provide for wider rolls of material. These are also likely to last longer than the lower end models with narrow material feeds.

Custom molded parts

Custom molded silicone masking parts

An option Viadon has offered for over a decade and a half is the single-cavity tool option for custom molded parts.

Whether a customer needs silicone, EPDM, neoprene, or other types of elastomers, we have the ability to provide them with a low-cost tooling option that produces 10’s or perhaps up to 100 custom parts when necessary.

Although the part price is obviously higher compared to a production sized tool, the overall cost is far less, especially when low quantities are the goal. Very often, the single cavity tooling is only in the hundreds of dollars range – similar in cost to a custom die cut hard tool.

Additionally, we will always look to see what the best option for you is depending on quantities. A recent customer found that because of the quantity they needed for testing was significant enough, it made more sense to go straight to a production sized tool. They will save money on their overall prototypes and go to production faster.

But that may not be what your needs are - perhaps low quantities is what's required. We're going to look out for the best option for your situation.

That is one more reason you can trust Viadon to help you save money while making your processes faster and more efficient.

3D printed parts

3D printed masking plug with handle

While generally not a true masking option given the lower temperatures at which these parts are made due to the material used and the very low quantities produced, a 3D printed part can provide a low-cost way to see and feel an actual mask prior to a mold being made.

These can also be useful for testing how a handle might interfere with other parts, or the ease of insertion / removal for operators.

And the lead times can be quite short – often within days!

While the filament material necessary to make “rubber like” parts is still a plastic, albeit somewhat softer than most plastics, as a result it will still often feel a bit harder than an actual molded rubber part.

But for testing fit and design components, it can be a very fast way to see and feel a part and “dry fit” test it for fit before committing to a rubber mold.

Viadon: A cut above, so you can be too

Our design engineer, Dave Fuller, designs 100% of the custom die cuts and molded parts here at Viadon. We work hard so that questions can be resolved quickly, or other ideas discussed and considered. And if it is a part we cannot do, or just isn’t feasible to make and have work well? We will tell you that too. We know what we can do, and what is not possible. No sense not giving it to you straight so you can make the best decisions. But 99% of the time? We can provide a solution for you.

And if a custom designed die cut or molded part is going to save both time and money – well, we are ready to help you invest in that savings to give you a competitive edge. 

 

Spring, 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus has created challenges around the world and across the country. Viadon is rising to meet these challenges in various ways. First and foremost, as a supplier to companies that are involved in essential industries such as aerospace and military contractors, we continue to supply our customers with tape, caps and plugs, and the converted materials they require to continue their essential work.

Yet with an eye towards both the safety of our employees and our customers, know that we are taking extraordinary precautions with both products and items within our facility (including, but not limited to, computers and machinery) and the materials that we convert and send to customers. Surfaces are cleaned with appropriate cleaning agents to minimize/eliminate the transfer of this pathogen via that route. While we are a small company, a couple of our employees are largely working remotely from home. Warehouse employees are trading shifts on different days entirely to avoid transmission via the air to one another.

While the means we stay in contact with our customers and vendors has obviously changed for some relationships nearly overnight, we remain committed to working with all of them via whatever means possible. Viadon has conducted much of its business via phone, email and other electronic means in the past, so this transition has been largely seamless for most relationships, and not put a significant damper on others.  

Your and our safety are our utmost concern during this new normal to which we are all adjusting. We will continue to meet the obstacles that lie ahead and overcome them with the same determination that Viadon has since 2000, because we are A Cut Above.

Wishing everyone good health and continued success moving forward.

Winter, 2019

Viadon has moved! We are now at 1201 Teal Ave., Peotone IL 60468. 

After 19 years, we have outgrown our prior space and have moved into a new warehouse that is nearly double the size. Not only does this allow us to spread things about a bit more without having to go up so high (hey, if we don’t have to climb rolling stairs 15 feet up to get product, we ship it faster!), we still have enough additional space to add a another slitting machine, better organized work flow and even some extra space for some enhanced offerings we hope to provide outside of just stock and custom work.

The move also located the warehouse more conveniently for our employees and being right off of a major interstate highway allows for quick access for receiving and sending shipments. We are excited about the opportunities this provides us to grow and expand into the future.

Summer, 2019

As the needs for masking in powder coating and other metal coating processes have gotten more detailed, more offerings of stock parts have been introduced to the market. Viadon has added two well-used masking plugs to their line up – the VTMP first thread masking plugs for blind holes and the SFPP flanged pull plugs for through holes.

The VTMP takes the concept of a straight plug and adds a small flange at the top, to cover the initial, lead thread for blind holes. Viadon’s lineup includes plugs for both standard and metric ranging in the popular sizes M6 through ½-13 threaded holes. The convenient handle on the masking plug makes them a snap to insert and remove for efficient preparation for coating.

The SFPP uses the more simple pull plug design but adds a flange at the tail end. This is perfect for most through holes of 1” length or shorter as the masking operator can simply grab the “tail” of the plug pushed through the hole, then pull until the flange seats on the first thread. Viadon’s offerings here include standard and metric plugs from 10-32 up through the quite large M16 size.  

Winter, 2018

Viadon adds flexible filament to its 3D printing options

TPU, or Thermoplastic PolyUrethane, is an 85 durometer (Shore A) material that can be successfully printed into many different shapes. And with the ability to adjust the “infill” – or how densely the interior of a part is printed compared to the outer walls – Viadon can create even softer-feeling parts than 85 durometer.

Brake caliper with flexible filament 3D printed prototype masking plug

As such, this provides us the – *ahem* “flexibility” (excuse the pun) – to make prototype samples of parts in addition to hard plastic ones. Customers can hold, feel and even test a part – though the melting point of TPU means that these samples cannot withstand typical powder coating or ecoating oven temperatures. As such, some testing may need to be accomplished prior to oven cure cycles.

But, for complex parts or ones that really need to be “seen” and “tried” first, these prototypes can really assist in approving a given custom molded part design. Or, it may help customers see what needs improvement before committing to vulcanized rubber prototypes and/or production parts.

What 3D printed parts can we help you get designed and tested?  

 

Summer, 2017

Viadon has offered rapid prototyping of many tape die cuts for years. Our plotter can cut a wide variety of shapes to test-fit die cuts before committing to a tool, or even making short runs of die cuts when a tool isn't financially feasible.

3D printed prototype masking plug
3D-Printed Prototype Masking Plug

Now Viadon has added 3D Printing to its portfolio of options, allowing for rapid prototyping of molded parts as well. For the time being, this is limited to hard plastic, but we expect to add flexible material soon. This will speed the molded prototype process for silicone parts from weeks to days. Though the prototypes we can produce will not be made from silicone, the flexible nature of the 3D printed prototype parts means many customers can go directly to a production-level tool, saving a lot of time... not to mention money.

What molded parts can Viadon prototype for you? Contact us today!

 

Winter, 2017

Viadon introduces the Silicone Multi-Use Plug and Cap Kit. This allows the job-shop or small powder coater to avoid purchasing dozens of different plugs and caps, and plug holes from 0.109" to 0.709" (with just 3 different plugs!) and cap off studs/threads from 0.118" to 0.709" (with just 4 different caps!).

And you can get a kit with all of them for only $50. Interested? More info here at this link.

Powder coating job shop masking kit
Powder Coating Job Shop Masking Kit

Summer, 2016

The "cooler cup craze" (Yeti / Glacier / RTIC / Ozark Trail type stainless steel cups) has captivated much of the nation, with the insulated beverage containers popping up everywhere from high end outdoor sporting goods stores to corner convenience stores. What many of them have in common is that people want them to look different!

"Is that one mine?"

"I don't know - I thought it was mine."

"Did you drink out of my cup?"

"I can't tell... they're all the same stainless steel color!"

"Ewwww...."

Insulated cooler cup with masking
Insulated Cooler Cup with Masking Plug

Enter you, the custom job shop coater, to save the day and avoid millions of germs from spreading from person to person via accidental beverage sharing! The problem is, how do you mask that giant gaping hole at the end of the cup? (Not the one in people's mouths, though sometimes people do dream of doing that, amirite?) Most insulated cup owners still want their drink to be touching the stainless steel, not cured powder coat.

Viadon can help

Give us a call at 866-534-3900 or shoot us an email at [email protected], and we can get you set up with the necessary items to mask these popular drinking containers with any of the wide range of powder coating colors available from your favorite powder supplier. Need some tips on how to mask the insulated cup for the best effect? We've got your back. And racking! How are you gonna rack that sucker? How will you ground it while it's masked?
We've got some ideas for you.

Give us a shout - we'll help you out.

Here's some links to a few items that can get you started:

STP Silicone Tapered Plugs (Solid)

HTP Silicone Hollow Tapered Plugs

Lined Green Polyester Tape

Do you make/add custom logos or designs on these rambler/tumbler cups? Viadon can provide you with the pre-Lined Green Polyester Tape for your plotter or vinyl-cutter machine too that has a higher temperature rating than the Cricut-type vinyl tapes that must be pulled out of the oven before the adhesive fails.

Stainless steel cup with masking plug
Stainless Steel Cup with Masking Plug