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  Project:     Case Modding 101: Vinyl Dye Guide  
  Author:     Shennon
  Date:     April 12th, 2002

Introduction:

The process for painting plastic drive face plates has always been done using traditional paint methods which involve sanding, priming, painting and clear coating. Many people have been painting plastic with lacquer paint, but lacquer can eat plastic under the right conditions. This could be disastrous if the case in question ran you more than $100.00. The safest alternative, and the most recommended, is vinyl dye. Vinyl dye has a drying time of 10 to 15 minutes and will produce an even, durable finish under most conditions. Vinyl dye can be purchased at any automotive shop like Pep Boys, CarQuest and UAP-Napa or for just the basic black and white, Canadian Tire. The average price range for cans starts from $7.00 to $20.00, depending on colour and manufacturer.

MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
Click image for larger view

The SEM Colour Coat Shadow Blue can on the left is from CarQuest and costs about $14.99. On right is U-Fix-It Jet Black Vinyl Colour from Canadian Tire and was priced at only $7.99. Incidentally, the warning label on the side of the Shadow Blue can states that this product does contain chemicals known to the state of California. Consumers are warned that this product is known to cause cancer and/or birth defects nor should it be sold to the general public and only be applied by a professional. I was able to obtain this product from CarQuest by simply asking for it by name. The dye from Canadian Tire has the same standard warnings about not spray near flames or heat and keep out of the reach of children.

Before you take any paint or dye to your beloved case plastics, there are some precautions that should be brought to your attention. Test the dye against any drive bay cover or cut-off you have lying around as this will let you know how much application to use. Always spray in a well lit and ventilated environment, the fumes can be fatal if ingested over a period of time. With any chemical, you have to wear an appropriately filtered face mask when spraying and if necessary use safety gloves which are completely optional. Proper precautions should be taken when attempting your own case mod project and as with all warnings, you are responsible for your own actions.

In this article Iíll be painting my A-Open HX08 full tower bezel, a floppy drive, a CD-ROM, and a slot-loading DVD-ROM.

The Front Bezel:

MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
Click image for larger view

Vinyl dye does not react well with lacquer or other paints, so if you're dealing with a piece that has been previously painted it is best to sand down your painted pieces first before attempting to use the product. The best recommendation is to start out with rougher grit of sandpaper, 600 grit works well for the first sanding phase. After the first sanding phase is completed move up to 1000 grit which is finer grade of sandpaper to get rid of any remaining areas of paint and smooth out the texture of the bezel. My front bezel had been previously painted using acrylic lacquer in another project and I had to sand it down almost to bare plastic during this preparation phase. There are now a couple of deep scratches in the bezel that the vinyl dye will not cover up, but you would have to get pretty close to see them.

 

MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
Click image for larger view
MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
A-Open HX08 front bezel
 

The way to spray vinyl dye is to lightly "mist" it on using multiple coats. Some people may consider this process very time consuming, but vinyl dye has a 15 minute drying time. When spraying, keep a small distance from the object of about 10 to 12 centimeters, or about a foot away.

MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
Click image for larger view
MTB Case Modding 101 Vinyl Dye Guide
Click image for larger view
 
After five minutes, I turned the bezel around and gave it another coat. Keep repeating this process until you have a solid, even coat on the plastic piece. Once the front bezel has been completely treated, wait a few hours for the piece to cure and the end result be will a coloured plastic front bezel.
 
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