Plastic Chroming - Pt. 1
So it's been a while since my last post and things have been pretty busy. With the weather warming up, I've had lots of house/yard work to do. Expecting a baby and taking care of my 2-year old. Not to mention in the process of upgrading my wife's car. But - I've been able to get some work done and I'm excited to show you guys where I'm at. I received the silvering kit and was excited to get started, a little too excited actually - you'll see why in the pics. I made some repairs to some gouges I made with my Dremel in the plastic before I primed and tried out the silvering kit. Here are some pics:
Here's a pic showing some of the scuff marks I made while cutting out the plastic. Even after some sanding, I saw that I couldn't get it smooth without removing a lot of the material
So after washing and cleaning all the dust and other gunk out, I used a plastic filler to patch the gouges out. This stuff is awesome. It was kind of like sticking a bunch of gum on the pieces, but it was definitely good quality (JB Kwik Plastic). It comes in a tube and you basically tear or cut small pieces that you will need to patch the area you're working on. It has an outer shell with an inner core (one of them is the hardener, can't remember which). After you cut off the amount you want, you knead it together until it is a consistent color. You'll want to wet your fingers to work with it, as it has some tack to it. You have about 30 mins after this point to apply your kwik plastic or it'll start to harden. Just press and work into the areas you're repairing
I was doing my best to take pics of each step, but I seemed to have forgotten to take a pic after I sanded down the JB Kwik Plastic. After you've applied the Kwik Plastic, you let it sit for 24 hours. When you come back to it, you should find that it's hard as a rock and ready to be worked and sanded. After I sanded the Kwik Plastic down, I took some white primer and sprayed a couple coats on it. Here is the front panel and under-handle (with a small shot of the carbon fiber wrapped in plastic)
Here is a picture of the top piece primed, dried, and ready
So the silvering kit I got is just that - an entire kit. This not only includes all the chemicals, but the measuring tools, cleaning tools, and waste disposal system. The waste produces a liquid containing heavy metals (liquid heavy metal!
), so you need to treat and dispose of it correctly. It's irresponsible and potentially illegal to throw waste water down the sewer system. The entire kit comes with everything you need. The only thing I needed to get was an extra pump spray bottle (mostly for preference, but not needed) and lots of distilled water - 4 gallons to be exact. Here's a shot of me starting to get the chemicals setup
Here's a random pic of the other bottles of distilled water I hadn't opened yet, lol
Here's a picture of the the siphoning system that came with the kit. This will allow me to pour the two main chemicals simultaneously (and more importantly, in equal amounts) over the substrate
I'll be doing a mixture of spraying the chemicals and dripping the chemicals, so I set up a little trash bag as a way to cover the spray area and also drain into the waste pan
Now that I have my workstation prepared (the silvering process is very time sensitive, so you need to have everything laid out in advanced so you can go from one step to the next without any preparation), I prepare my work pieces by cleaning them with the included cleaner. It's labelled as a glass cleaner, but it works with plastic as well. You need to use very hot water to properly clean this and you need to starting wearing your gloves, as fingerprints will ruin the entire process. I like the 'European sponge' that was included in the kit, very heavy and thick. It came as a little wafer, but after adding water it expanded like crazy, lol
Here is the first piece that I did the silver process on. As I mentioned, it's a very time sensitive procedure, so I wasn't able to take pictures during the process
So I went through the silvering process on the under-handle piece and on the small part of the top panel. I definitely saw the chemical reaction taking place as I completed the steps...... however..... well, you can see for yourself
So there were a few things that went wrong here. The one thing I noticed immediately was that I can't just prime and lightly sand and achieve the effect I want. The silvering process does not make a non-smooth substrate shiny. By only using primer and lightly sanding with 800 grit, it was smooth to the touch, but not mirror smooth to allow for a 'chrome-like' look. The other issue here as you can see is the spotting and brown blotches that you see on the pieces. I wasn't sure what this could have been, so I contacted the company with some pics of the pieces, and they were quick to respond. I went through all the steps properly, but totally forgot the 'wetting agent' that's included with the kit. I specifically ordered this too, but completely skipped that part (that's where the "over excitement" kicked me). The wetting agent is used on glass sometimes, but specifically on plastic pieces where the surface tension of the substrate doesn't allow the water to 'sheet' over the material. It instead beads up, which makes the sensitizer not do its job. Because of this, there were parts that simply did not silver correctly.
So - lesson learned. I just can't 'short-cut' my way through the silvering process. I have to basically get a pristine, mirror finish... to produce a mirror finish (my co-worker got a kick out of that one). I'll need to sand all the silvering and primer and start over. I'll then prime again, then start applying a basecoat. I'll do a few basecoat layers and let it cure. Once it's cured, I'll go ahead and start the finishing process of sanding it with 800, 1000, 1500, then 2000 grit (might go straight to 1000, depending on how the spray settles). Once I pass the 2000, then I'll start buffing it out with compound, then I'll finish that off with a finer swirl remover. I think this will give me the finish I need to get a truly chrome like look from the silvering process. I'll also remember to use the wetting agent next time
You'll notice this is "Plastic Chroming - pt. 1". I figured this first 'test' is a fairly large update with images, so I will be breaking up this whole process. I've already gotten more work done, so I will be posting a pt. 2 very soon.
Thanks for watching, and as usual - more to come!