Molded Parts 8 and 9

  • Silicone masks on aircraft part to be plated

Custom Molded Parts for Masking

An aircraft parts manufacturer approached us about a complex problem they had: Masking of a curved aluminum part to allow for brush-plating of raised parts while protecting the middle surface.

A thorough review of the parts was undertaken with the customer. What exactly needed to be finished? What was the current masking timing like? What willingness existed to create custom tooling for custom molded parts?

After careful questioning and the necessary information now in hand, Viadon set about to designing silicone molded masks that could be slipped quickly and easily onto the metal parts.

Client Needs to Mask Curved Aluminum Part

Imagine for a moment a fairly simply-shaped part - just a curve, really - but with two small.... hmmm, let's say "horns" sticking up from it. And let's say that further, the very top of those "horns" needs to have a very specific type of brush-plating applied.

But! These are no ordinary parts. These are expensive, high-strength aircraft parts, and the coating must be applied perfectly - the first time, every time. And let's say that if there is a mistake, the entire expensive part must be re-worked, costing large amounts of money in time, labor and expense to re-do them.

Too crazy to be real? Nope. Here is that part:

Aircraft part to be masked off for finishing
Aircraft Part to be Masked off for Finishing

In this case, the cost of the tooling was less of an issue for the customer, because the re-work for "bad parts" was costing so much. So "done right the first time" meant a relatively modest investment in tooling and molded masking parts was going to save a LOT of money in the long run.

This metal finisher was hand-taping these parts, which was both time-consuming and not producing the desired results. Mistakes made by masking personnel were magnified by the high cost of the parts themselves. A solution was needed.

Viadon Designs Custom Molded Parts

Enter Viadon. After a thorough review of the parts was undertaken with the customer, we created a left and right mirror image, to keep the parts smaller for easier handling. The centerline was not an issue, as the plating process would not go anywhere near that area, and a small strip of tape could be applied to keep that section "safe" too.

The customer liked the design, and ordered prototypes. But when they saw a photo of the masks on the parts, they LOVED them!

The color-coded, mirror-image parts means masking operators can quickly and easily identify which part needs to be applied, avoiding fumbling around looking for the "matching part." The masking meets in the middle cleanly, meaning one narrow piece of tape protects that middle surface. And the "chimneys" that allow the "horns" of the metal part to poke through are designed to make for fast application, and sufficient stop-off for the brush-plating process.

Aircraft part with silicone masking
Aircraft Part with Silicone Masking

Silicone masks on aircraft part to be plated
Silicone Masks on Aircraft Part to be Plated

And after the prototypes were tested?

The customer can plate FOUR parts in the same time it used to take them to plate ONE. Another Viadon success story!

One of the ways we saved this company money was by using a tool that caused the per-piece price to be slightly higher, but the overall costs far lower.

A satisfied Viadon customer! Viadon delivered a masking solution saving our client time and money overall.

How can Viadon help your company lower costs through faster/better masking techniques, intelligent engineering and an eye towards overall savings of YOUR bottom line?
Contact us today to discuss your challenging masking projects. We're here to help.

Viadon. A Cut Above.