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Old 07-16-2013, 06:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Default Alumilite clear polishing

Ok, I'm desperate! I have made several hybrid pen blanks with worthless wood alumilite clear (with dye added). I have orders for about 10 of these and can not get a good polish on the alumilite. I have found very little on the web, and even called alumilte. They refered me to their FAQs that only tells me to wet sand by hand or at 300rpm. I have made hundreds of acrylic pens (inlace, poly-acrylic etc. and have always had success wet sanding with micro mesh. This same process is not working (at high or low speeds).

What am I missing. The best I can achieve is a matte finish at best with lots of sanding marks. The web says that alumilite clear is extremely soft, but I would say just the opposite. Even at high speeds it doesn't even appear that I'm taking anything off the alumilite blanks.

Help

Mike
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Old 07-16-2013, 06:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Alumilite Clear can be polished to a high gloss, but not as easily as other plastics.
  • Alumilite White and Alumilite Black are the easiest to polish, in my experience.
  • Acrylic (including CA glue) is next.
  • Polyester Resin takes a bit more care, but still buffs up nicely.
  • Alumilite Clear takes practice and a light hand.
I usually buff my finishes and use Tripoli and White Diamond abrasives most of the time. That works fine for the first three plastics, but not perfectly for Alumilite Clear. At one point, I picked up some Canton buffs and plastic polishing compounds from Caswell Plating, and they seem to work better on Alumilite Clear. A light touch is needed. I don't notice a benefit for the other plastics.

Oftentimes, it's easier to put a CA finish on top of Alumilite Clear - especially for casts with imbedded objects or resin/wood composites - and polish that.

I hope that helps,
Eric
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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So what your saying is that if i am going to use CA (which I am), I don't need to worry about the alumilite. I am assuming that the CA will fill in the small scratches and I will sand the CA to a high gloss as usual. Right?

Mike
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdwilliams999 View Post
So what your saying is that if i am going to use CA (which I am), I don't need to worry about the alumilite. I am assuming that the CA will fill in the small scratches and I will sand the CA to a high gloss as usual. Right?

Mike
Exactly, that is what I do. It only takes about half as many coats as you might do if you were doing wood though.
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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When i first did alumilite the only way I got to gloss was to do a CA finish. MM all the way, buffing - nothing got there. Then I tried Hut Ultra Gloss. I still MM to 12k, then ultra gloss to get there without the CA.

Other polishes may work too. Hut Ultra gloss is just the one I use
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I had the same problem. Then I bought a beal buffing system for th lathe. That's the only way I've been able to get a decent shine on alumilite clear.
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I've been having the same issue after adding color to my Alumilite. I'm going to have to try a CA finish...
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Use MM through 12,000 grit. Then McGuires Mag Wheel Polish. ( most auto parts stores)
You will be Happy.
Thanks, Gary
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Alumilite should polish right up if you go through the MM grits and then hit it with a plastic polish (I use One Step). I've noticed very little difference between my Alumilite shine and my PR shine at all.....

If I had to CA a plastic blank, I think I'd just CA my eyeballs instead. I hardly work with wood any more mostly because I don't want to deal with it
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Old 07-18-2013, 11:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default CA Success

Ok, I tried the CA and was able to get the high gloss finish as I would expect as this is the preferred finish for all my wood pens. I have to say that I am very dissappointed that it is that hard to polish the alumilite clear. They really should consider seeing if they can modify their formula to allow a normal polishing with wet sanding with micro-mesh.

I also have hybrid wine stoppers and I have already had very bad experiences tying to use CA as a finish. I find stoppers to be to big for CA and to easy to sand through the CA on edges. So I will need to try some of the other ideas listed her. It sounds like there are 2 primary options:
- Beal buffing system (which I have)
- car rubbing compound - though I'm not sure how well the wood will handle this, and you certainly won't get CA to adhear after using roubbing compound
- just MM and then use high-gloss finish coat

Anyone else have any more proven solutions?

Mike
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