Paints: Vinyl Paint/Dye Information

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Boggs6ft7, Oct 30, 2006.

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  1. Boggs6ft7

    Boggs6ft7 TFW2005 Supporter

    May 25, 2006
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    As promised, I said I would do a write up on this paint/dye. It seems like there hasn't been much use of it from what I can tell.

    I know many of you have tried the dying technique using water, acetone, and rit dye. This gives you good coverage and no chipping or cracking, great if you want to transform your new kitbash.

    On my Classics Starscream I used a vinyl paint called Color Coat from the SEM company. This is a paint that is used in automotive to do dash boards, displays, carpet, etc... It is a paint/dye with our favorite plastic melter ACETONE. The acetone allows the paint to soak into the plastic.... making it damn near permanent.

    How permanent you ask? On Starscream's wings I did panel lining without putting on a clear coat, I took straight paint thinner to clean up the lines and no paint came off...ever. This means it would take some abuse while transforming.

    Something I did notice with the SEM paint is that it did not take as well on the upper legs and part of the waist. I think these parts are denser plastic and it did not get a chance to become permanent. However, SEM does make a prep spray that softens the plastic before you add your coating.

    Here is the warning. After spraying your part, it will dry to the touch in about 15 minutes..... HOWEVER.... the plastic is now soft, it needs about 24 hours to cure.

    Another option is from the Mar-Hyde company and Plastikote company. They both make a Vinyl Dye. This isn't a paint, this soaks directly into the plastic permanently changing the color. Same deal as before, the main ingredients are the color and acetone.

    Where do you buy the stuff? Check your auto parts stores. Big places like Pep Boys do not carry the ones I mentioned, you need to go to a smaller shop. If you have an auto paint shop in your town, that would be the best place to go.


    Permant color without risk of warping from boiling water.


    Easy to use


    Fumes, for the love of God, do not spray this while other people are around and use in a very well ventilated area. These fumes are horrible. I'm not talking about regular paint fumes that kinda smell good, but you know they are bad. These are make you sick fumes. you've been warned.

    Limited colors, obviously these paints are intended for cars, so you have a lot of neutral colors.

    Can't be put over existing paint, just won't take.

    Cost, expect to pay about 10 bucks a can for the SEM stuff, but its a normal sized spray can worth. The Mar-Hyde can be bought for about 5 bucks,

    Here are some quick directions.

    Make sure your part is completely clean; no grease, dirt, etc... I wiped all my parts with alcohol to clean them off. The paint will not go on alreay painted parts.

    Spray your part in light coats, with about five minutes between coats until it is covered.

    Let your part cure for about 24 hours then you can add additional paint for details.

    Give these a try if you want on your next kitbash, I give them a thumbs up as another option to the boiling technique. I'm going to keep using these for future projects and I'll come back with more info on "what happens if" scenarios.


    Well my Classics SS had a problem. See, I never took all the red paint off his body because I didn't think I needed to. I used hte same gray to paint his back and that little section on his torso. I didn't mask it off because I knew I was going to repaint it red anyways.

    Well the red didn't stick so well and would rub off, so I had to strip him back down to plastic and start over. Funny thing is that isopropyl alcohol took the paint right off even some of the SEM paint that was on bare plastic. I'm thinking the body was more of the dense plastic type so the sem did not take as well or the isopropyl alcohol just really messes with the stuff, not sure.

    So the layers went like this Plastic > Original Red Paint > SEM Gray Paint > New Red Paint and new stuff wouldn't stick well.

    Just a warning in using the vinyl paint.

    UPDATE #2

    Just finished my classics Skywarp repaint. I used the Mar-Hyde Jet Black Vinyl-Dye this time (You can pick this up at O'Reilly's auto store if you have one near by). I had some issues with the denser plastic parts and used some of the SEM plastic "primer" on those parts. The dye soaked in and adheared much better.

    Gets my thumbs up, just be careful around the denser stuff. Also, this is by far the most noxious in terms of fumes, you've been warned.

    From what I have seen, it doesn't stick to those areas and it ruins the paint so that when you rub your finger over it, all of it comes off and it stays sticky.

    Something that the computer case modders do is put vaseline over places they don't want covered. I just use masking tape and get the same effect, but if it was something small, the vaseline might be a better option. Again, I haven't tried this so I'm not sure how well it works.

    Here are some links to the manufacturers I meantioned above.

    SEM - this is the paint I used on my starscream.

    Mar-Hyde-no colors shown, but your local shop should have a chart
    Body Fillers and Auto Body Repair Products


    The problem I have been running into is that it won't ahere good to the denser plastic parts and I think I know why. The parts in question are made of Polypropylene or Polyethlyene. These are dense hard cheap plastics that can take the abuse of transformations but don't react well to many chemicals, including acetone. So the dye is useless on these parts, actually, most paints have a hard time ahering to these plastics. You'll know which parts they are because they are usually seperate parts that take a lot of wear (i.e. the joint that is screwed onto Starscream's wing) and they don't have paint on them.

    I've done some checking around and there are some differnet adhesion promoters that are specifically designed for polyproylene. I'm going to give them a try and post my results here.

    Lastly, just to show you how resilient these parts are to acetone, I have an example. I took the wing hinge from a extra Starscream and a broken arm from Ramjet and put them both in Acetone. The hinge piece is polypropylene and the arm is I assume polystyrene. Both parts were in the acetone for about 8 minutes, and the hinge piece was actually in longer. You'll see that nothing happened to the hinge piece while the arm was ruined beyond use.



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