What Is Marking Blue?

Malcolm Tatum

Also known as layout stain, marking blue is a product that is often used in the process of working with different types of metals in a manufacturing environment. The product is applied to the surface of the metal, creating a surface that is smooth and does not have any detectable scratches. When and as necessary, a stylus or other type of marking tool can be used to clear away a portion of the marking blue to reveal the metal underneath. This makes it possible to mark such items as cogs, bearings, and other metal components with ease, while also protecting the surface of the components during transport.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

While there are various strategies employed for creating marking blue, most approaches will make use of some type of methylated spirits in combination with a coloring agent to provide the distinctive bluish hue. Other ingredients that help to increase the durability of the coating are also included. The choice of ingredients will be impacted by factors such as local customs, governmental safety regulations that have to do with the use of chemicals in the workplace, and even the availability of certain compounds for use in the formula.

There are several reasons why marking blue may be utilized. One is the practical process of protecting the surfaces of metal components after they are manufactured and while they are awaiting use by buyers. While other methods can be used, a thin coating with marking blue will provide resistance to scratching during transit to a customer, a factor that can be very important when that component is destined for use in highly sensitive machinery. When this is the case, the blue can be removed just before installation if needed, or it can remain on the component as a means of minimizing wear and tear and prolonging the useful life of the part.

Applying marking blue is a relatively simple process. Depending on the size of the metal components involved, it may be possible to apply a thin coat by hand, using a version of the product that is sold in a tube and is easily spread along the surface. Other means involve immersing the components into a bath of marking blue, timing the process to allow for an even coating. Since the coating will dry and adhere in a relatively short period of time, the process can be accomplished quickly and easily. In the event there is a need to inscribe the metal component in some manner, a sharp tool designed for this purpose can be used to scratch through the coating, allowing a thin line of the exposed metal to be visible.

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