Customs: dyeing plastic and acetone

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by ckhtiger, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. ckhtiger

    ckhtiger old skool fool

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    I just read ops_was_a_truck's kitbashing guide, and had a question about the dyeing process. I'm making a new thread since I figured I wouldn't get much of a reply in a stickied thread. anyway, I bought some black rit dye at walmart to dye alt. meister black. it said in the thread that you heat the water to 170 degrees, and add the dye and acetone. my questions are, what is the dye/water ratio, and what does acetone have to do with anything? all I know is that acetone usually melts plastic, so I'm wondering again how much to use and why. thanks, as this is going to be my first dye job, although I'm definitely going to dye something as a test first.
     
  2. cobra zartan

    cobra zartan Think's He's a Detective.

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    measuring got me nowhere i filled the pot what looked to be 3/4 full dumped the dye in and waited for it to boil and poured nailpolish remover in and dropped in the fig, alot of people say only a few seconds or it will warp but ive left them in for quite a bit and havent had a single warped one yet. Test with a crapp fig such as a minicon. People say to also wash the figure, although I never have. Good luck and post pictures when its done
     
  3. Seth Buzzard

    Seth Buzzard R.I.P. Buzzbeak Content Contributor

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    I have done a couple test runs and in both I left it in for incredible amounts of time, I’m talking like and hour trying to get the color I wanted and both times the figures would warp and the color wouldn’t be any better after an hour then it was after a minuet or two.

    But this is the first time I have heard about adding nail polish remover/ acetone to the mix. What effect dose it have? Dose it make the color take better?
     
  4. Optimus Scourge

    Optimus Scourge Arcee's boy toy Veteran

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    Me too. what IS that for?
     
  5. Tfgraveyard

    Tfgraveyard Not a Fan of the Fans

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    I strongly recommend extreme caution if your'e using acetone with the boiling method. Acetone(which is a chemcial used in Nail polish remover), can melt plastic. Using it in a dyeing bath helps soften the plastic, and open the 'pores', so that it takes color better. It's also very flammable. If you're going to use it, I recommend adding it before you start heating the water/dye. I've had times where i've added it after I heated the water up, and have had the mixture 'flash' on me(violent reaction, mixture foamed up and over the pan, all over the burner, etc. I was lucky that it didn't catch on fire when it hit the element. So if you plan on using the acetone, add it first, and bring the water up to a slow boil. Once it's there, you can turn the burner off, as the bath should stay hot long enough to dye, unless you're doing a lot of toys.

    As for warping, i've had that happen too. Depends on the type of plastic, and it's usually the heat that does it. I've had a few toys warp on me, but not lately, so maybe they're using better plastics these days.
     
  6. Dark_Convoy

    Dark_Convoy Old Bastard Veteran

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    I have heard about people getting bad results when trying to dye Alternators, something about the parts that were die-cast on the BT versions not wanting to accept dye for some reason even though they are plastic on the alts, if that makes sense.
     
  7. Ops_was_a_truck

    Ops_was_a_truck JOOOLIE ANDREWWWWWS!!!!!!

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    Acetone is useful for speeding up the dying process. Quite simply, something about the addition of the acetone or nail polish remover makes the plastics accept the dye easier. You don't have to maintain the heat of the water for as long as you do without the acetone. This is nice because the longer you keep the water heated, (to or near a boil,) the higher the potential is for warped parts.

    Personally, I've haven't had any bad experiences with dying Alternator parts. I've done some experimenting and I now stick to this formula pretty regularly: I bring the water to a boil, REMOVE it from the heat source, then add about 1/4th cup of acetone (probably less, I'll need to double-check when I'm not at work.) That mixture, plus the RIT dye, has given me dyed, non-warped parts about 8 times in a row now, including parts for Alternators. (That's how I dyed Alt. Optimus's blue parts to black for Alt. Ironhide.)

    In my opinion, warped parts are a result of too much heat. I'm not sure if the acetone plays a role in warping the parts, (or how much of a role it has in that,) but I'm pretty certain - based on experience - that as the water gets above boiling point, your parts become more profoundly warped.

    If you're mixing acetone in, I think it's safest to move your pot AWAY from the heat source. That's what I do regularly. I get the water up to boil, let it boil for about 30 seconds to a minute, then move the pot over to a nearby table, add the acetone once the boiling has stopped (no more bubbles), the RIT dye and the parts. At that point, it's subjective - the darker a color you want, the longer you leave the parts in the mixture. At that point, the water can only cool, so there's no risk of heat warping the parts.

    Also, just so you know - I do check and respond to the stickied thread regularly.

    EDIT: Damnit. I wrote this big-ass addition about size and I got auto-logged out. Let me try again...

    I think the best mixture ratio is like 80:20. I think you can even fudge that a little and go 85:15. I use a small soup pan to do my mixture, so 1/4th cup works all right for me.

    The most important part I stressed when I wrote this the first time around was PRACTICE. Practice practice practice. Dying is not something you can get exactly right the first time around and it's REALLY worth it to you as a hobbyist to practice the dying procedure on some spare parts, or on a small kit (I used the LOC guys for practice) before moving on to a full-size project.

    What you're talking about CAN be done, but you should get the rhythm down of boiling the water, getting it away from the heat source, adding the acetone and the dye, adding the parts, et voila - your stuff is dyed. The nicest thing about practicing this is that the entire procedure is maybe 8-10 minutes long, and once you've got it down, that's 8-10 minutes to change the color of AN ENTIRE FIGURE, as opposed to spending 20 minutes making sure you've got the color you want by spraypainting a few parts.
     
  8. jestermon

    jestermon Well-Known Member

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    dye

    Ya, the warping is also just the plastic it is not the quality of the plastic so much as the fact that the plastic is not really designed to withstand boiling temps.

    I tried the dyeing with a few spychangers so far, the Universe G1 repaints, the Jazz plastic is hard and dyed like an Easter egg pink it took along time to take the dye, also it was my first try and I put too much water in hindsight.

    The second time I dyed a Silverstreak well 2 that I was using to make a Flywheels Spychanger the plastic that was the bottom white parts, took the dye almost immediately, but the top car shell, it took the dye but warped an excessive amount it is not the heat as much as it is the differences in the plastics that make them warp.

    Also the last time I used more dye then the first. Also whatever the plastic is on the guns is much stronger then the actual figures I guess because of the stress the guns take and that they did not want them to disintegrate when you pull them out from underneath them.

    Anotehr word of caution have a good strainer setup the first time I did it the strainer fell and I lost a gun and a piece of styrene, then a spychanger arm the second time.
     
  9. Darkprime

    Darkprime Antigrav Singular Destron

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    Another thing I would like answered is how much dye to use. If say I wanted to dye the body of classics starscream and used 4 cups water, how much dye do I use? Does it make a difference if using a liquid dye or the powder?
     
  10. WhiteMocha

    WhiteMocha TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yeah, just to re-iterate what others have said.... if you add the acetone at the bginning, make sure you keep a close watch on it while boiling. I had mine boil over on me SUPER fast, and dye my entire stovetop red. (Got it out with lots of fast scrubbing, before the dye set, but I got big-time stink-eye from my wife.) :) 

    Also, when you dip the parts, just dip them quickly, for a few (like, four or fewer) seconds, and then set them aside to cool for a bit. For darker colors, just do this over and over--- don't hold them under longer. I ended up ruining an Alt. Prowl's legs that way, they warped so badly. *sniff*
     
  11. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    different boiling points?

    Here's something that just sort of occurred to me. It seems that there is quite a bit of variety in the results with regards to time that the pieces are left in the boiling water, and the danger of warping...

    Obviously the type and thickness of the particular plastic plays a role, but consider this...

    My rudimentary science education seems to recall that water has different boiling points depending on local air pressure... the higher your elevation, the higher the boiling point. If we generally don't add the figure to the water until it boils, wouldn't it stand to reason that people who live in higher areas... mountains, etc... might be putting their figures in the water at a higher temperature than people who live closer to sea level? After all, it's the water temperature that is really important, not the fact that it is actually boiling, right? That might make all the difference between a successful dye job and a warped toy.

    Am I thinking too much? :) 
     

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