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How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/28/2011 1:31 PM

I want to make a giant bottle props.

Firstly, I use steel mesh to create a skeleton.

Secondly, I fix fiber glass mat to this steel mesh skeleton.

Finally, I apply resin on the mat.

The finished props should be in dark brown color.

I have two questions:

1. Can I dye the resin to dark brown before applying it to the mat? I don't want to paint the finished product.

2. Normally, how many layers of fiber glass / resin need to be applied totally in my case?

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#1

Re: How can I dye fiber glass

11/28/2011 2:32 PM

I would use an off the shelf clothing dye for the fiberglass mat, and allow to dry completely before using, followed by something like this, for your resin.

I have no idea how many layers, but my guess would be 2-3 minimum.

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#2

Re: How can I dye fiber glass

11/28/2011 3:04 PM

Glass cloth comes in many weights. It's treated like a textile product.So many ounces per square yard.

Assuming typical cloth weights you might get by with one ply. Probably two will siffice, depending on how much strength/rigidity you need. The cloth does not have to be made from glass. I have used cotton fabric when lining battery trays and for other small jobs. Don't use fabrics that won't absorb the resin.

I don't feel that you need to dye the cloth first, but that you can discover that for yourself.

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#3

Re: How can I dye fiber glass

11/28/2011 4:31 PM
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#4

Re: How can I dye fiber glass

11/28/2011 4:35 PM

1. Try this place for resin tint.

2. Number of layers of fiberglass will depend on the weight of the cloth or mat that you use as well as the overall size of your prop.

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#5

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/28/2011 10:51 PM

Why not just paint it?

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#6

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 1:07 AM

Why not use a dark brown gel coat finish??

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#7

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 7:03 AM

Hi youngken, Using a die may allow you to give the bottle the actual appearance of a beer bottle with the see through effect of the die. If you paint it afterwards you will just get an opaque color.

I suggest though that you try it out on a small patch, impregnating the mat with a died resin. This especially so you can see if the effect you achieve is what you are looking for. Don't forget you will have the fibers in there which will not be colored. Since you are apparently a novice in this, let me point out that fiber orientation is really important in Fiber reinforced plastics (FRP). If you are using a random orientation mat, this will be equally strong in all directions of the plane. However, it will always be weaker at equal weight than properly combined layers of oriented fibers such as in actual fabrics or in unidirectional mats.

Also make sure to only use dies that are compatible with your resin and fibers. It would be a shame if the die would deteriorate the adhesion of the matrix to the fibers for example.

I have seen a comment about cotton fibers. Carful with that! Not only will you need more material to obtain the same properties but in case your bottle is thought for outdoor use don't forget that all resins soak up some humidity and that the cotton may wither, leaving you with a weakened product you won't know about until the bottle comes crashing down!

Another thing to consider if your application is for outdoor use and if you use dies. The UV light of the sun degrades most plastics. Standard resins are usually not protected against this effect because in most applications they are covered with a (painted) gel coat. The gel coat is a resin layer designed to resist UV radiation for a long time and to protect the underlying layers from the UV radiation.

If you have a good retailer, he will be able to furnish you with tables of what stress your FRP will sustain in all the different directions, or at least he should be able to point you to a basic textbook about FRP properties.

Without Knowing the design of the bottle and it's size there is no way of knowing how much fiber you need to put.

Hope it helps.

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 9:41 AM

Very good answer. Thank you. I know when I was a novice, it seemed like every job had a hundred or more "things to think about". Sometimes when we give advise of any kind, it can overload their minds, and make a "newbie" paralyze with fear that he will do something wrong. Reading your explanation was like having an "old hand" right there, pointing out the pitfalls, helping to overcome the "fear of failure" which infests us all.

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#8

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 8:49 AM

After your fiber mesh a coat of a product like Bondo. Which is filler used in repairing auto and boat damage. It can be sanded to give your bottle detail. If you look around you may find one that is brown. Comes in many colors. You may find suppliers that have dies for it.

The number of layers of fiber mesh depends upon how much abuse the props going to take And how long you need it to last. At least with the Bondo around you can patch it when someone drops it and it cracks.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 10:34 AM

The color of bondo comes from the color of the hardener. Bondo absorbs moisture and deteriorates over time. That is why unbacked (bridging of open surfaces) auto body repairs bulge. It must be applied to an impermeable suaface and top coated.

If you are trying to get translucence, use mat fiberglass instead of woven.

Laying fiberglass over a wire frame is going to give you a very lumpy surface that will require filler to smooth out, which will eliminate translucence. It would be best to construct a finished half bottle form on plywood (wire frame, one layer woven fiberglass/resin, filler sanded to final form, spray coated with gel coat and sanded to 1000 grit). Depending on how smooth a finish you want on the finished object, you can either (you MUST wax and polish the form 7 (yes SEVEN) times so the layup will release without ruining the form) layup onto that form or use the form to pull a mold by waxing the form, gel coating the surface, laying up eight to ten layers of fiberglass/resin and adding structural support. Then remove the mold, wax then layup the finished object. The first method is cheap and quick but will only produce a few objects at best. The second method will give you a production mold that with proper care can produce many objects.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 11:33 AM

Translucence? He asking about brown.

Don't know if he is trying to go into production or not he didn't say.

Your way if he is not is a lot of work for just one.

I'm sure we all have seen cars running around for years with the Bondo unpainted. Out in the weather on a car which panels shake and vibrate with every bump.

He is making a prop.

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#9

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 9:21 AM

If you dye the resin, you will be able to see the steel armature inside when light refracts through it. Paint will likely be opaque, but you can "paint" it with Gel Coat. Normally a gel coat is painted onto a mould before you apply the resin and "chop". You could paint with it, as if it was paint. Maybe. I don't know. Never tried that. There might be problems like slumping and brush marks. For a very large prop, I would build a mould first. Then you can make a set of bottles, all the same.

I would not use "glass". I would use brown cloth. Just use it like you would the glass. Use a light brown because when it gets wet from the resin, it will turn dark brown.

I use a lot of thin film wrap like "saran wrap" on the surface when I am doing fiberglass. I lay it on at the very end of the job. It allows me to smooth the surface without the sticky resin grabbing my tools, or making a huge mess, or snagging the sleeve of my shirt. The saran wrap comes right off when the resin sets up. (I used this technique to stamp letters into the side of a small boat I was repairing a few years ago....I just used a set of cheap plastic letters from the dollar store. Push the letters into the plastic film, and the shape was impressed in there forever.)

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#14
In reply to #9

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 2:09 PM

Thanks for the information about using "saran wrap" on the surface of the resin. I imagine that any creases left in the wrap surface will result in it being trapped in the surface of the resin. Is that a problem, and are there any other 'tricks' I need to know about using "saran Wrap"?

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 11:23 PM

Well, you should try not to leave any creases. But if there are any, that is not that much of a problem....you can always fill creases with body putty, and sand it. I would do a job like that in three or four layers, building it smoother and prettier each time, and sand with a coarse sandpaper and a block to give the next coat a "tooth" to grip onto.

That trick with the saran wrap was used in a production shop I used to work in....we discovered it by accident. But it was old even back then! The saran wrap just peels off when you are done. You have to remove it before you put a second layer on for sure.

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#13

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 1:01 PM

I would get some plastic bottles, cut them in half, and use them for molds...Make two halves and then put them together with epoxy or whatever...

http://www.greatbigstuff.com/cokebottle.html

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 11:26 PM

Good find!

I wonder if they are big enough?

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#15

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

11/29/2011 6:17 PM

I have been able to get the color I want from fiber glass dealer. not local stores

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#18

Re: How Can I Dye Fiber Glass

12/01/2011 7:06 PM

2. Normally, how many layers of fiber glass...

I use 3 to 5 layers of 1.5 oz chopped glass mat to make the mould for small parts or for the finished product. I would need to know the square footage of the finished product to estimate the thickness and the weight of both fiberglass and resin to use. For wetting out the product (glass) use the same amount by weight of resin as the weight of the glass. This is a good estimate and will give you something to start with.

The wire mess you are inserting is for strength, I assume, so the finish product will be supported by the mesh?

Is the fiberglass to be used to make the finished surface? Have you comtenplated using the gel coat and if so make sure you use PVA (poly vinyl alcohol) to coat the gel coat to make the final surface tack free. This can be sprayed or brushed on the surface it will seek the level and smooth out the surface as it drys.

I need more information about the final product before making more suggestions. Contact me through CR4 mail for more details.

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