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Clear Blaster Tinting

Getting that light, translucent look!

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#1 Buffdaddy

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:50 PM

In the course of experiments with paintjobs, I came across a problem with Clear Series blasters. I needed to dye them a different color, but maintain the translucent properties of the plastic. That eliminates essentially all normal paints and vinyl dye. Instead, I found an odd solution: fabric dye.

FYI, this works vastly different from vinyl dye. Vinyl dye physically fills in the pores and bonds with plastic (in this case, ABS). Fabric dye is not actually compatible with hard plastics like ABS. However, we can cheat with heat, and open up the pores just enough to let some dye in. This way, you get the tinted look.

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Start by grabbing your clear blaster, and removing all the clear pieces of plastic.

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Pick your flavor of fabric dye. Remember, due to the way this works, you're getting a light tinting. Thus, the red dye here will translate to shades of pink, etc.

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Get some boiling water. Normally, you can get a large pot, and use that for your dyeing purposes. Didn't have a spare on hand (looks like I need a thrifting trip). So I used the tea kettle to heat up some water.

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I did, however, have a spare dish pan. So I put a spoonful of dye powder in, poured in the boiling water, and put all the plastic in the pan. For kicks, I heated up some more water to boiling, and put it in about 15 minutes later.

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The end result, a pink Nitefinder. The final color depends mainly on how long the plastic is in hot water; considering the low amount of dye that seeps into the plastic, adding more dye most likely won't have an effect.

I don't have it on hand (FINALLY GOT IT SHIPPED OUT. Wow, I didn't realize how many things need sent or refunded. Yay for finding the right meds), but I did this to a Clear Recon with royal blue dye, with the end result being a tinted purple color. Ask OneWingedAngel about it; it should have arrived there a while ago. I'll see if I can find a picture of it.
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#2 Eraser475

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 01:57 PM

Oh yeah, I remember your trans purple recon. If the blaster is left in too long, is it going to cause it to deform at all?
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#3 Buffdaddy

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 02:16 PM

Not that I have noticed thus far. When I was doing the Recon, I was in a dorm room at the time, with only a microwave for heating water. Since I couldn't really boil a dish pan of water, that plastic spent a lot of time in pretty hot water, and it still worked perfectly after reassembly.

I imagine there's a limit, of course. For example, if your plastic is at the bottom of a pot on the stove, I wouldn't be heating/reheating the water with the plastic still in there.
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#4 arfink

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 02:49 PM

I have used fabric dyes on plastic before, specifically Gameboys. Vinyl dye wasn't doing it for me, it was changing the "feel" of the plastic, while fabric dye does not. (not just clear plastics, but regular colored ones too) The amount of dye you use does matter alot, but not nearly as much as the amount of time you leave the parts in. Do be aware that soaking plastic in treated city water with traces of chlorine for longer than 8 hours can lead to "crazing" and will damage the surface of the plastic.

Edited by arfink, 27 February 2012 - 02:50 PM.

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#5 Buffdaddy

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 03:07 PM

I have used fabric dyes on plastic before, specifically Gameboys. Vinyl dye wasn't doing it for me, it was changing the "feel" of the plastic, while fabric dye does not. (not just clear plastics, but regular colored ones too) The amount of dye you use does matter alot, but not nearly as much as the amount of time you leave the parts in. Do be aware that soaking plastic in treated city water with traces of chlorine for longer than 8 hours can lead to "crazing" and will damage the surface of the plastic.


Good point on the city water; the water at home comes off a well, so I'm fine there. Vinyl dye, I believe, has some thinner in it that will make the plastic soften a bit until it fully cures, etc.

Also, thanks for the input from experience!
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#6 Exo

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:57 PM

You're alive! Very interesting. I will be interested to see some of these "dyejobs".
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#7 Pause

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:18 AM

Wow! This is really cool. I can see a bunch of people doing this to a clear blaster with an OMW kit installed.
One questions though, where do you get fabric dye? Craft stores?
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#8 Buffdaddy

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:24 AM

Wow! This is really cool. I can see a bunch of people doing this to a clear blaster with an OMW kit installed.
One questions though, where do you get fabric dye? Craft stores?


Craft stores, of course. Although I've seen them in Walmart (at least the Supercenters) and a few other big box stores as well. There's powder and liquid dyes, check for both.
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#9 andtheherois

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 02:38 AM

Would this work on polycarb? I would love a tinted pink +bow.
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#10 Eraser475

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 08:13 AM

Would this work on polycarb? I would love a tinted pink +bow.


It might, but if it were sanded/frosted, it has a better chance.
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#11 arfink

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:32 PM

Would this work on polycarb? I would love a tinted pink +bow.


Try it out. If it doesn't stick you can just wash it off and you're not really at a loss. I bet it will work though.

For those who would like to get a really strong tint without waiting forever, mix up your dye and hot water, then add a generous splash of acetone. You really have to be careful not to leave it in for too long, and to be on the safe side you should make sure to use the lower concentration cosmetic stuff, but the acetone makes the plastic just drink up the dye. It'll still be largely transparent if you don't leave it in for too long.
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#12 Eraser475

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:07 PM

Try it out. If it doesn't stick you can just wash it off and you're not really at a loss. I bet it will work though.

For those who would like to get a really strong tint without waiting forever, mix up your dye and hot water, then add a generous splash of acetone. You really have to be careful not to leave it in for too long, and to be on the safe side you should make sure to use the lower concentration cosmetic stuff, but the acetone makes the plastic just drink up the dye. It'll still be largely transparent if you don't leave it in for too long.


How long would be too long? I really want a trans colored nf now!!!!
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"That seems like substantially less fun than filling it with beer". -Draconis

"There is no such thing as over kill! If you can carry it and prime it. You're good to go". -Makeitgo

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#13 arfink

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:37 PM

How long would be too long? I really want a trans colored nf now!!!!


When using acetone, dip for maybe 30 seconds, then pull it out an look. It varies based on the composition of the plastic, but it's really fast. Not more than a few minutes I should think...
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