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Using Phlatprinter for Graphics

Discussion in 'GENERAL Phlatprinter talk' started by Flashsolutions, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    This week I had to overhaul my Phlatprinter which was no longer cutting circles properly and found the set screw had worked loose on the X axis roller gear. I discovered this while trying to cutout some letters to use for templates for making graphics for my latest plane, the Arrow. But that is a little off topic. What I really want to share with you is a technique for spicing up the your foamie planes by adding graphics and/or vinyl covering.

    Balsa planes are typically covered with Monokote, Ultracote, or other heat shrinkable type wraps. It is possible to also cover foam with this material using a low iron setting, but did you know you can get the same results by applying Oracal vinyl sheeting to your foamie? This material is also used on some balsa planes. It can be printed by a local sign shop to make up some really cool looking graphics.

    I am prototyping a new plane and did not want to wait for the sign shop to print up some graphics so I decided to put the Phlatprinter to work for me by making templates for cutting out some letters and shapes to be used as graphics for my new plane.

    Just another reason to own a Phlatprinter.

    I milled the Arrow to reduce the weight which I knew I would add when I added graphics to the plane and it worked very well, reducing my overall weight by about 25%.

    I ordered several rolls of different colors of Oracal 651, including a roll of holographic vinyl. It was very easy to install plain sheets of vinyl by simply cutting out a section and removing the backing and laying the vinyl face up and then dropping the foam onto it and pressing it into place. Flip it over and squeeqy the vinyl into the foam with a rubber putty scrapper like you find at auto supply stores.

    But that only produced a plain jane covering and I wanted something a little more artistic, so I used the Phlatprinter to cutout letters and graphics onto 3mm foam.

    After getting letters and graphics cutout, I simply covered them with the vinyl and used the foam as the template for cutting the vinyl with a sharp #11 Xacto blade. Since the vinyl is easily removable from the the foam if you don't squeegy it into place, I just peeled off the vinyl graphics and placed them into position on my plane and squeegyed them down tight. The vinyl sticks really well to itself!

    I then used a sharpie marker to run a black outline around each letter but you could laminate layers of vinyl and get some very nice results.

    It is a little hard to see in the picture, but the holograpic letters and arrow sparkle and glitter when the sun hits it at different angles. Attached files [​IMG]
     
  2. 3DMON

    3DMON Moderator Staff Member

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    That turned out nice!
    Foam at its finest :lol:
     
  3. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    Thanks 3DMON. I forgot to mention that this plane after milling and graphics were added still only weighs a mere 12 oz and it is a very big plane! The wings are 35"x11" and the fuse and rudder measure 44" x 9". It is cut from 6mm Depron.


     
  4. kram242

    kram242 Administrator Staff Member

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    Flashsolutions, Nice work man!
    As I was reading your post I wondered if you could put the graphics on the foam and then cut it out. Then you could just peel the letters off the foam and stick them where you like?
    I'm not sure if you have a working time for that or not.
    Nice post
    Mark
     
  5. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    I'll give it a try. I've been reluctant to do that figuring it would just ball up on the bit but who knows, it might work, after all, the FFF foam has a layer of coating on it that we cut right thru...

    I'll let you know how it works out. I'm assembling the Arrow this afternoon and maybe this evening I will have some time to give it a shot.

     
  6. kyyu

    kyyu Active Member

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    Flashsolutions,
    Do you have any clear? I wonder if this stuff can be used to make screen protectors?
     
  7. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    kram242 - Wahoo! Yes, you can pre apply the Oracal decal material to foam and then cut it out. I am using a 1/16 2 fluted bit and there was a small amount of decal left on the bit, but it was minimal. It did not clog and all cuts were clean.

    kyyu - I don't have any clear in my stock but they do make it in clear and I suspect it would make a good screen protector. Attached files [​IMG]
     
  8. kram242

    kram242 Administrator Staff Member

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    Flashsolutions,

    That's cool!, now will it allow you to peel that off and apply it wherever you want?
    Mark
     
  9. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    Yes, but only if you use Depron. It does not work as well on FFF since there is a skin that peels off with the vinyl and the other side pulls off too much foam and kills the adhesion.

    Depron with its thin skin seems to work best and very little foam peels off with the vinyl.

    You can reuse the Depron to trace cut another set of graphics later on if you like. Simply place a piece of vinyl on a flat surface and press the cutout onto the Depron and cut around it with an Xacto blade. It cuts very smoothly. In fact, I often just put the tip thru the vinyl and move the material. It slices like butter.

    I purchased rolls of Oracal in 15" widths by 5 yards in various colors to have on hand for building. The have some beautiful colors including holographic and metalflake.


     
  10. kram242

    kram242 Administrator Staff Member

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    That stuff sounds super cool(Oracal) Have you tried anything like two sets of flames one yellow for instance and one orange or red like the pic. Then over lap them to make a graphic?
    Attached files [​IMG]
     
  11. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    No, I have not tried it with that type of graphic, but I have done some simple overlays and it works very nicely. The orcal sticks really well to itself so doing something with flames like that should be easy enough to do.

     
  12. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    Here is some overlaid graphics which were done for the Arrow...

    Attached files [​IMG]
     
  13. kram242

    kram242 Administrator Staff Member

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    Larry your planes are sooo nice!
    I sure hope he allows you to post here, all the work that you have made on these designs are going to be a real treat to all of us!
    Its incredible how you have milled out internal structures.
    I can't wait till the Phlatscript can do that daunting task for us :)
    Thanks for sharing your photos with us and we look forward to seeing how she flys and what 'they' have to say about sharing the Phlatcodes here with everyone.
    MnT
     
  14. Flashsolutions

    Flashsolutions Active Member

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    Thanks for the compliment! This weekend was the maiden flight for the new plane. I am not particularly happy with how it came out. The fuse is too limp and twists under power even with thread supports. I probably should have made it with laminated layers of Depron like I do for most of my planes but wanted to keep weight down and it turned out to be a bad decision.

    This plane was built with a 35" wingspan with a 49" fuse. I am in the process of scaling it down to something more reasonable, a 24" wingspan built with FFF, some 3mm Depron for air brakes and heavier carbon fiber supports for the fuse.

    It will sport a Rimfire Vpitch power plant which requires a plane in the 12oz range. The foam parts which I have just completed cutting out weigh about 4oz so I think this version will be a better flyer than its larger brother.

    I have not contacted the original designers yet but will be happy to provide the phlatcodes if they don't mind.


     
  15. theothers

    theothers Administrator Staff Member

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    Larry,

    This is where the Phlatprinter will really come in handy (as you know). Redesign the plane and print out a new one. Please keep us updated!

    Thanks,

    Mark and Trish
     

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