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Dying / Staining PVC Experiments

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Dying / Staining PVC Experiments

Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:11 am

Hey guys,

As some of you may know, I am an avid painter. I have done some really sweet paintjobs in the past o a lot of my cannons, but one thing has always bothered me. The thing that always bothered me was that even with a good paint job on PVC, it will still scratch and show white pvc underneath. Now im not talking casual shooting with my spudguns, but I also airsoft. When moving around, metal gear, equpiment, etc causes scratches to the gun exposing white pvc. This can make a nice looking cannon look crappy very shortly.

So long story short, I wanted to figure out a way to "stain" PVC. Well after searching on the Web, I found some people saying they have done it multiple ways but they have not showed the amount of penetrating and how well it handles scratch resistance.

I have seen a couple where they did show how much it penetrates, but they dont offter an exact way of how they did it or how much it costs, or anything.


So I am on a mission to figure out and compare different methods of dying / staining PVC. I will list my findings and will cover all of these details:

Amount of Penetration
Level of Scratch Resistance
Color Choices
Price
Where to Buy/Get
Ease of Process / Difficulty
Additional Information
Why/How it works


The first two methods I will be covering are..
1. RIT Dye
2. Petroleum Dye with PVC Cleaner/Primer (tetrahydrofuran)

I am also going to compare using Purple PVC Primer and setting it in a bath of primer for different periods of time to see the amount of penetration.


As far as the process is concerned, after dying/staining, I will leave the part sit for 3 days before attempting to scratch the part, to make sure that there is ample time for the process to take effect.

If you have any ideas, tips or suggestions, or any additional information on this subject matter, please post.
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Unread postAuthor: Lockednloaded » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:55 am

I've dyed PVC with rit dye, the only problem is that the heat makes the pipe soft like a garden hose, and after its been softened, I dont trust PVC under pressure anymore.
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Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:08 pm

Lockednloaded wrote:I've dyed PVC with rit dye, the only problem is that the heat makes the pipe soft like a garden hose, and after its been softened, I dont trust PVC under pressure anymore.


Does it harden back up after it sits out for a while?

Cause I know PVC Primer softens PVC at first but then it hardens up after it sits out for a few hours.. Also how does it handle scratch resistance?
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Unread postAuthor: Lockednloaded » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:14 pm

It hardens up after running it under cold water :shock: , but i feel like the stress of melting then hardening up again weakens the pipe. It handles scratches very well, but be sure to sand off the lettering on the pipe before dying, because it will still be visible, even with dark colors like blue.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:25 pm

So far on my testing with the oil base dye and PVC cleaner as a replacement for purple primer, the stain even though not very deep is quite robust as most abrasions on PVC seldom remove any PVC, but make a mess of the paint on it.

One of my early experiments is here;
http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/making-magic-with-pvc-t21723.html

This includes where I found the information. I used tracer dye that is used in refrigeration systems to identify leaks. It is dissolved in oil and is highly fluorescent. I dyed a golf ball barrel for the marshmallow cannon and so far it looks good as new.

I am using the dye to color some pvc parts for a game board for the contestant buttons because it does not wear off like paint.

To test this yourself, spend about 5 minutes constantly painting a PVC pipe with purple primer until the stain is even and let it dry completely. It looks great and holds up well to wear.

From the linked article, use the rignt cleaner
"Clear Cleaner" is a product used to prepare PVC pipe and pipe fittings for gluing. Chemically, it is identical to "Purple Primer," but without the added purple dye. Check the label and make sure it contains tetrahydrofuran.


I have tried to wear some of this off using aggressive cleaning supplies. It remains in place as well as purple primer stains.

Some pipe can be cleaned of lettering with a product called Goof Off or similar grafitti removal product. They are designed to remove magic marker and other inks from surfaces. Even that stuff does not affect pipe that is dyed instead of painted or inked.
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Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:31 pm

Update:

I used some of the purple primer I had and soaked a peice of pvc in it for 20 minutes :D

I pulled it out, wiped it off and let it sit for a few hours, After going back to it, It seemed to lose almost all of its "tacky-ness".

you normally get a little bit of "tacky-ness" when you put purple primer on and it does go away after a few minutes, but I wanted to test soaking a part in pvc to see if i get better penetration.

What I found is you indeed get better penetration. I took a sharp object and attempted to score the pvc, no white came through, I actually had some p120 sand paper and tried to sand it off with no luck. I finally got to scrape some off but i had to repeatably go over the same spot with a small sharp screw driver over and over actually removing a good amount of pvc in the process.

Next I will use a variety of different dyes with some clear cleaner/primer to see the different effects. I will take the same pipe, cut it into equal small sections, and I will submerge the peices in the same primer with different dyes to see the different results.
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Last edited by Davidvaini on Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: PVC Arsenal 17 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:31 pm

Technician1002 wrote:One of my early experiments is here;
http://www.spudfiles.com/forums/making-magic-with-pvc-t21723.html


Awesome. I'm tired of the plain white look of PVC. I'll be giving that a try. I'm also curious about Fnord's post in your thread; he used ABS cement to dye PVC black. I wonder what type of finish that leaves...
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Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:35 pm

Well the key ingredient seems too be the solvent ((tetrahydrofuran -because it partially desolves and softens the pvc)

Im not sure if ABS cement has tetrahydrofuran in it or not.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:44 pm

PVC Arsenal 17 wrote: I'm also curious about Fnord's post in your thread; he used ABS cement to dye PVC black. I wonder what type of finish that leaves...


I tried it. It sticks to PVC quite well and leaves a layer of black glue on the pipe. I've toyed with using some sign mask to make a stencil for some lettering. The jury is still out if it bonds better than Krylon Fusion. I really have not tried to wear test it yet.
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Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:48 pm

Well as far as the purple primer is concerned, it is loads better than krylon fusion. Especially when soaking for a longer period of time.

Now After I test clear with different dyes, I will tell you how it fairs compared to krylon fusion.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:26 pm

From what I have seen, the fuel dye and cleaner is about the same as purple primer except the color.

I agree, way better than paint.
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Unread postAuthor: Davidvaini » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:33 pm

Technician1002 wrote:From what I have seen, the fuel dye and cleaner is about the same as purple primer except the color.

I agree, way better than paint.


Yeah, and if you still want to do a paint job, you can always paint over the stained / dyed pvc.. that way if some of the paint scratches off, you still have some of the base color underneith instead of white pvc..
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Unread postAuthor: Fnord » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:34 pm

Hey david,

Before you go putting a gun together with fittings stained with primer, try taking some cheap fittings and smacking them with a hammer. It is possible prolonged exposure to primer solvents may change the mechanical properties of the pvc. If they seem to break easier than undyed fittings, you may need to find another approach.

Yes, abs cement does work well but it's hard to get a perfectly even coat. It doesn't soak in much; instead it adds a tough outer layer.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:26 pm

I wonder if thinned ABS cement would work in an airbursh to get an even coat?

I'm thinking of airbrushing the dye. With various colors, I could do a '60's style tie dye launcher. On second thought, maybe not. :flower:

Airbrushing a crouching dragon or something might be possible.
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Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:42 pm

If you were going for penetration I wouldn't suggest using an airbrush, but of course I've never tried dying a cannon, and very seldom do I even paint them. :roll:
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