Jump to content
Storm13

Aluminum masks

Recommended Posts

I am looking at buying a mask but it is aluminum.  What are your thoughts about aluminum masks?  Do they hold up?  Would you buy an aluminum mask?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the plus pos aluminum frame with team Wendy pads.  I have taken direct shots from 14 yr olds and up. The frame holds up. Only problem with the plus pos is that the paint chips off. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Storm13 said:

I am looking at buying a mask but it is aluminum.  What are your thoughts about aluminum masks?  Do they hold up?  Would you buy an aluminum mask?

I own 2. As far as I know they hold up. MLB guys use them so they can't be that bad. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Diamond aluminum and two Wilson aluminums. I personally love them because of how light they are. They are also incredibly strong because they have to go through a hardening process. The hardening process makes the frame very rigid which means it doesn't absorb as much energy from the ball as a steel or titanium would. For me it had never been a problem and for the price you can't beat it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, tpatience said:

I have the plus pos aluminum frame with team Wendy pads.  I have taken direct shots from 14 yr olds and up. The frame holds up. Only problem with the plus pos is that the paint chips off. 

I'm calling shenanigans. You show me the model of +POS mask you have, and prove that it's aluminum. My close following of +POS has seen hollow steel or magnesium alloy constructs in their lineup. Aluminum has not been used. I own a +POS ZRO-G and it's hollow steel.

@Storm13, the two masks you have presented to us are the Honig's K-4 and the Diamond DFM-UMP. Both have the extended crown guard and chisel-point chin guard. The chin guard on the DFM-UMP is longer, but the ear guards are smaller, while the K-4 has a slightly stubbier chin guard but nice generous ear guards. There, the comparison ends, because while the K-4 is hollow steel, the DFM-UMP is aluminum.

I own a K-4 and have owned (and sold to an umpire-in-need) a DFM-UMP. I like(d) them both. Steel (and titanium, to an extent) will deform under severe stress and will rarely exhibit fatigue (and abject failure), while aluminum (alloy) will not; fatigue will result in shearing without any telltale symptoms. Aluminum masks are much more so dependent on having good pads than their steel counterparts.

I sold off my aluminum Diamond only because everyone else of my colleagues at CDP had that mask, and it reassured my buyer that it was a really good mask. Also, I wanted to be different than all those other guys (amongst my circle of fellow umpires, I'm the only one who uses a Nike and an All-Star FM4000). Between the two major aluminum masks on the market – the Wilson DynaLite Aluminum and the Diamond DFM-UMP – the Diamond has that rather beneficial crown guard. Just make damned certain you get good pads for it.

Re-read @LittleBlue's above comments; he's nailed it dead on. Well said.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, MadMax said:

I'm calling shenanigans. You show me the model of +POS mask you have, and prove that it's aluminum. My close following of +POS has seen hollow steel or magnesium alloy constructs in their lineup. Aluminum has not been used. I own a +POS ZRO-G and it's hollow steel.

@Storm13, the two masks you have presented to us are the Honig's K-4 and the Diamond DFM-UMP. Both have the extended crown guard and chisel-point chin guard. The chin guard on the DFM-UMP is longer, but the ear guards are smaller, while the K-4 has a slightly stubbier chin guard but nice generous ear guards. There, the comparison ends, because while the K-4 is hollow steel, the DFM-UMP is aluminum.

I own a K-4 and have owned (and sold to an umpire-in-need) a DFM-UMP. I like(d) them both. Steel (and titanium, to an extent) will deform under severe stress and will rarely exhibit fatigue (and abject failure), while aluminum (alloy) will not; fatigue will result in shearing without any telltale symptoms. Aluminum masks are much more so dependent on having good pads than their steel counterparts.

I sold off my aluminum Diamond only because everyone else of my colleagues at CDP had that mask, and it reassured my buyer that it was a really good mask. Also, I wanted to be different than all those other guys (amongst my circle of fellow umpires, I'm the only one who uses a Nike and an All-Star FM4000). Between the two major aluminum masks on the market – the Wilson DynaLite Aluminum and the Diamond DFM-UMP – the Diamond has that rather beneficial crown guard. Just make damned certain you get good pads for it.

Re-read @LittleBlue's above comments; he's nailed it dead on. Well said.

My mistake. I thought the Plus pos ZRO-G was aluminum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, LittleBlue said:

it doesn't absorb as much energy from the ball as a steel or titanium would.

When you say what I have quoted above, I'm assuming the energy goes to the pad right (hopefully not your face)? or am I just off?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah it goes to the pads and then to your face so you have to have good pads. Steel and titanium will bend slightly when hit while aluminum will stay rigid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 7, 2016 at 10:47 AM, tpatience said:

My mistake. I thought the Plus pos ZRO-G was aluminum.

 

On August 7, 2016 at 1:53 AM, MadMax said:

I'm calling shenanigans. You show me the model of +POS mask you have, and prove that it's aluminum. My close following of +POS has seen hollow steel or magnesium alloy constructs in their lineup. Aluminum has not been used. I own a +POS ZRO-G and it's hollow steel.

@Storm13, the two masks you have presented to us are the Honig's K-4 and the Diamond DFM-UMP. Both have the extended crown guard and chisel-point chin guard. The chin guard on the DFM-UMP is longer, but the ear guards are smaller, while the K-4 has a slightly stubbier chin guard but nice generous ear guards. There, the comparison ends, because while the K-4 is hollow steel, the DFM-UMP is aluminum.

I own a K-4 and have owned (and sold to an umpire-in-need) a DFM-UMP. I like(d) them both. Steel (and titanium, to an extent) will deform under severe stress and will rarely exhibit fatigue (and abject failure), while aluminum (alloy) will not; fatigue will result in shearing without any telltale symptoms. Aluminum masks are much more so dependent on having good pads than their steel counterparts.

I sold off my aluminum Diamond only because everyone else of my colleagues at CDP had that mask, and it reassured my buyer that it was a really good mask. Also, I wanted to be different than all those other guys (amongst my circle of fellow umpires, I'm the only one who uses a Nike and an All-Star FM4000). Between the two major aluminum masks on the market – the Wilson DynaLite Aluminum and the Diamond DFM-UMP – the Diamond has that rather beneficial crown guard. Just make damned certain you get good pads for it.

Re-read @LittleBlue's above comments; he's nailed it dead on. Well said.

there was a plus pos aluminum.  he coated it with gray dip.  Out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, LittleBlue said:

Yeah it goes to the pads and then to your face so you have to have good pads. Steel and titanium will bend slightly when hit while aluminum will stay rigid.

Got it - thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those aluminum Diamonds have zero give to them. I haven't decided if that's good, or not.

I really like the fit of the Honig's, as it seems to be a little wider than other frames, and when combined with TW pads, fits my face better than any other combination I've tried.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, kylejt said:

Those aluminum Diamonds have zero give to them. I haven't decided if that's good, or not.

I really like the fit of the Honig's, as it seems to be a little wider than other frames, and when combined with TW pads, fits my face better than any other combination I've tried.

Very true about the Diamond masks. I took some hard shots with Wilson doeskin, Wilson memory foam and TW's loaded on it. Felt the shot with the doeskin, but all was good. The shot with the memory foams was bad. The ball drove the mask back into the pads. Really rocked me good. The TW's were the best by far. Still felt it more than if the TW's were loaded onto a steel frame, but it worked for me. As has been said, it's a good frame, but load it with very good pads!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been using the Wilson aluminum this season. I have TW pads on my other masks, but thought the memory foam ones on the Wilson were doing fine. Took a hard shot in an adult league game the other night and it compressed the pads to the point that the mask impacted my sunglasses. It did no damage other than a scrape under my eye from the glasses, but I have ordered another set of TW for that mask. I bought the silver one and thought the color was too shiny, now after about 130 games it is much duller. I like the mask and may pick up a black one.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, MB_Ump said:

I have been using the Wilson aluminum this season. I have TW pads on my other masks, but thought the memory foam ones on the Wilson were doing fine. Took a hard shot in an adult league game the other night and it compressed the pads to the point that the mask impacted my sunglasses. It did no damage other than a scrape under my eye from the glasses, but I have ordered another set of TW for that mask. I bought the silver one and thought the color was too shiny, now after about 130 games it is much duller. I like the mask and may pick up a black one.

  • The elasticity / recovery of the memory foam used in Wilson's pads was likely overstressed. Memory foam (See Wikipedia explains Memory foam ) is not unilaterally perfect, subject to a range of recovery properties depending on what chemicals are used in its production. The speed of the recovery is rather controllable. My guess is that, while commendable for using a relatively new and modern material for mask pads, Wilson once again hedged its budgeted bets and went with lower-cost memory foam that lacks either the volume to absorb significant impacts or the recovery speed to prevent the compression of the pads allowing the mask frame to "bottom out" and contact your face. I grant that they cannot make these things, affordably or practically, to anticipate every significant impact, but they cannot continue to produce gear in the outdated design-project-produce-transport-distribute-sales structure they, and other large dinosaur companies, use.
  • Since these masks are Aluminum, I'll give Wilson the benefit of the doubt and estimate they are likely anodized. (See Wikipedia explains Anodized Dyeing ) It's more cost effective and longer lasting than paint (which would likely come off merely by shaking the damned thing) or dip, which would defeat the purpose of an aluminum mask i.e. weight and thinness. But not all anodizing jobs are top-notch, and to keep costs down, are often executed in huge quantities, thus maximizing chemical (acids) use and minimizing waste. Wilson likely had the entire season production run anodized in two huge batches – silver and black (a telltale sign as evidence of this was the pink masks on Mothers Day; all the masks were DynaLight steels which are far easier and less expensive to paint or dip in a small batch than to commission an anodizing session; my gosh are Wilson a bunch of penny pinchers). Anodizing is not without its weathering, though, and normal wear and tear and exposure to UV will fade it. The dye is set within the oxidized skin of the metal itself, but no skin will remain resolute and integral forever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a new aluminum Wilson black with gray wraparound pads from ump-attire this year. I've gotten hit in the face on balls coming from 14 year olds up to college wood bat leagues and haven't felt anything. I love the mask. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, JoHart10 said:

Normally I commend Max for being spot on but there was at least one Ti worn on Mother's Day! image.jpeg

Which umpire is that, @JoHart10, and is that a paint job ("quick and cheap") or a proper anodizing job like it should be? Small batch or even singular anodizing can be done, it just gets pricey because of the acids, electrical equipment and waste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 6, 2016 at 8:38 PM, Storm13 said:

I am looking at buying a mask but it is aluminum.  What are your thoughts about aluminum masks?  Do they hold up?  Would you buy an aluminum mask?

Great questions! Looking just at our sales this year, the answer to your last question is "most definitely".

Just wrote a summer gear trend piece where I discussed that aluminum mask frames are trending. I pasted the section on aluminum masks below:

Fulll Article

----

A3009ALBK_Front.gifIf I asked a crew of you which metal type is the most popular in umpire masks, someone would inevitably say "TITANIUM". Far from it - titanium umpire mask sales make up just 4% of sales of all masks this summer. The correct call would be ALUMINUM. Sales of aluminum umpire masks are up from 43% last summer to 61% this summer of all masks sales. Steel is at 36% (down from 53% last summer).

Certainly, there are now more aluminum options from both Diamond and Wilson. That helps. More importantly, aluminum offers the following benefits over titanium while still maintaining a low weight - lower cost and more "give" which reduces force and a tendency to bend at the same time.

For these reasons, umpires this summer have been 15 times more likely to grab an aluminum mask over a titanium one.

Add that 7 black aluminum masks are sold for every 5 silver this summer, aluminum is not just about color.

Wilson and Diamond aluminum masks have sold about equally this summer if you're wondering. Actually, the most popular mask of summer is the Wilson Dyna-Lite All-Black Aluminum Umpire Mask.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 11, 2016 at 9:45 AM, MadMax said:

Which umpire is that, @JoHart10, and is that a paint job ("quick and cheap") or a proper anodizing job like it should be? Small batch or even singular anodizing can be done, it just gets pricey because of the acids, electrical equipment and waste.

It could be the picture quality but the shiny parts of he frame and the overall glossy finish lead me to believe that the frame has been painted rather than anodized.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, JimKirk said:

Great questions! Looking just at our sales this year, the answer to your last question is "most definitely".

Just wrote a summer gear trend piece where I discussed that aluminum mask frames are trending. I pasted the section on aluminum masks below:

Fulll Article

----

A3009ALBK_Front.gifIf I asked a crew of you which metal type is the most popular in umpire masks, someone would inevitably say "TITANIUM". Far from it - titanium umpire mask sales make up just 4% of sales of all masks this summer. The correct call would be ALUMINUM. Sales of aluminum umpire masks are up from 43% last summer to 61% this summer of all masks sales. Steel is at 36% (down from 53% last summer).

Certainly, there are now more aluminum options from both Diamond and Wilson. That helps. More importantly, aluminum offers the following benefits over titanium while still maintaining a low weight - lower cost and more "give" which reduces force and a tendency to bend at the same time.

For these reasons, umpires this summer have been 15 times more likely to grab an aluminum mask over a titanium one.

Add that 7 black aluminum masks are sold for every 5 silver this summer, aluminum is not just about color.

Wilson and Diamond aluminum masks have sold about equally this summer if you're wondering. Actually, the most popular mask of summer is the Wilson Dyna-Lite All-Black Aluminum Umpire Mask.

Do aluminum masks give more than titanium? I was under the impression, as seen in my posts above, that aluminum masks are more rigid than titanium because of the hardening process they have to undergo. While they don't dent as easily as a steel or a titanium frame would, they also wouldn't bend to absorb some of the impact from the ball, no?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/12/2016 at 9:59 AM, LittleBlue said:

Do aluminum masks give more than titanium? I was under the impression, as seen in my posts above, that aluminum masks are more rigid than titanium because of the hardening process they have to undergo. While they don't dent as easily as a steel or a titanium frame would, they also wouldn't bend to absorb some of the impact from the ball, no?

Thanks for allowing me to clarify.

The Wilson titanium frame gives less for sure than the Wilson aluminum and Diamond aluminum frames. I probably shouldn't speak on too many generalities related to metals, as I know those are all alloys, so the formulas are not quite the same.

This is why the MLB and MiLB medical coordinators advocate NOT wearing titanium.

In our experience, the aluminum or steel masks umpires use bend less than titanium.

From masks that we have sold for years, the Diamond aluminum and Wilson Dyna Lite rarely have any issues in this department. With titanium, it is common.

I suppose your thought might be because the aluminum and steel bends less that it gives less. When I mention "give", I mean it has more flexibility to the point that bends less. With titanium because there is no "give" that it tends to bend more instead of bounce back.

Hope that helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Jim Kirk. I use both the Wilson Steel w/ Team Wendy and the Wilson Alum with Memory Foam. Never had a bent frame yet from college games on back. Everyone that i work with that has a titanium has experienced a bend, is on their second or third such mask, etc. regardless pads used. I still don't understand why they continue to keep getting a titanium if they keep bending but to each their own.  I think the Alums are great mask and reccomend them. I put a lot of my efforts into having proper pads and change them when I am suppose to for my own safety. The mask per se is just the frontline defense. If one of my mask should bend I never use it again.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As with other things, there are four factors driving the design and production of traditional masks (TMs): Strength, Lightness, Affordability (Cost), and Durability (Resiliency). You can get three of those, but you can't get all four. Just like in most services, where you can have it Done Well, Done Fast, or Done Cheap, you have to sacrifice one of them to get the others – no system can produce something perfect in all factors.

Steel, in its various forms from solid to hollow, gives the best balance between those factors. Inexpensive masks are strong and protective, and can withstand and endure seasons of abuse, but are by no means light. Mid-range masks, in an effort to lighten up, become more expensive (using better and lighter steel), or begin to compromise on strength or durability. High-end masks, primarily high-grade hollow steel and carrying a relatively high(er) price tag, are strong, lightweight(ish) and durable. They reach a limit, though where any less steel compromises strength, and any more production time and costs result in a customer service pariah. The saving grace, though, is that next to nothing in baseball will end the life of a steel mask; even if the bars bend under the impact of a 95mph fastball, they can be bent back and the mask re-treated to be good as new once again with minimal expenditure.

The employment of titanium in a mask is to address specifically the weight factor – the lightness – without compromising two of the other factors – strength and durability. Of course, this affects the cost factor, making most titanium masks fetch premium price tags. Titanium behaves like steel, in that it does deform under load, albeit it has to be a tremendous, immediate load. It's very difficult (not impossible) to work with, and anything done to it (tooling, bending, shaping) has to be done very deliberately. Cutting it has to be patient and gradual, while bending or shaping it is best accomplished as abruptly and directly as possible, as once left to rest, the metal hardens in short order. Where it excels, besides the exceptional lightness, is the resistance to repetitive, cyclical fatigue. What this means to us is all the minor bumps, twists and impacts won't manifest upon it. It's also naturally resistant to corrosion, so nothing will compromise it there either. It has to be a significant impact for it to experience and exhibit deformation. The trouble becomes when it does deform, it is exceptionally difficult to put back right (i.e. bend back) again; nearly impossible for the average user. Any welds have to be done in an uncommonly controlled atmospheric environment. So, a bent titanium mask is, essentially, kaput... shot... dead. A $250+ doorstop. Worthless. 

So to a professional catcher or umpire, where the cost of a new mask is complementary or a non-issue, the "death" of a titanium mask doesn't mean much. To the rest of us, that's a significant chunk of capital now sitting worthless. @JimKirk's survey of baseball mask -wearers (catchers, umpires) won't reveal titanium's desirability because it's popular; titanium's desirability is because it's rare. And many of us humans are compelled to seek out rare things.

The search for a best alternative, then, switches to aluminum. Like titanium, it has exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and tremendous resistance to corrosion. It doesn't have the tensile strength of titanium or steel, however, and when presented as a hollow tube, needs to be of a greater diameter than a similar steel tube, with the benefit and advantages found in weight savings. Thus, in masks, aluminum is best employed as solid rods/wires. Aluminum is the most plentiful non-ferrous metal on earth, and endlessly alloyed for a myriad of applications and uses. If anything drives up its cost, it is supply and demand – most of the production plants are in China, Russia and Canada and conjunctively, they are the largest consumers / employers of aluminum in structures, products and wares. Finding the ideal alloy "blend" for an application wherein it hasn't been employed before takes a great deal of experimentation and research because of a characteristic aluminum is saddled with different than steel and titanium. It is much stiffer than steel and titanium, it doesn't exhibit deformation under load and has an indeterminate fatigue limit; when it fails, it fails catastrophically and shears. Repetitive stresses (i.e. impacts) get the "clock ticking" on the mask, with no indication or symptom as to when it will fail. When it does fail, it most often tears (shears) and cannot be returned to the condition of strength it was prior to failure.

Now certainly, as far as masks currently go, with the aluminum masks from Diamond and Wilson being solid-wire aluminum construction, it would take an exceptional wallop to cause it to fail. The sole reason we only see one model of aluminum catchers mask is because for the detailed and intensive construction a mask needs (precision bends, specific welds, specialized powder coating or anodizing process, etc.) it drives the price tag up, countered by a lifespan of frequent punishment of not only ball impacts, but being tossed to the ground or thrown in the dugout or smashed in a gear bag. When it comes down to it, it's not a strength issue – it's a durability versus cost issue.

Lastly, my cultured opinion as to why professional umpires are being advised to discontinue use of titanium masks has to do with frequency over catastrophe. What medical experts are starting to find is that CTE – the potential named killer of football – has to do with an aggregate frequency of impacts of any variety of intensities, not just one or two significant, grossly intense impacts. Certainly, one lone concussion of enough force can end a career, but equally dangerous are frequent, repetitive impacts that would otherwise be dismissed as "minor". Because of its resistance to deformation and creep, low elasticity, and low mass, titanium transfers the force of an impact, any impact, instantaneously without dampening it, forcing the pads to bear the brunt of impact's energy alone. Steel, with its greater mass, higher elasticity and malleability tends to absorb and dampen an impacting force. Therefore, steel and top-quality pads will perform best at lessening the intensity of an impact, and in most minor cases, neutralizing any energy transfer to the user's skull. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...