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Old 08-05-2012, 06:26 AM
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heat forming vinyl

Is it possible to heat form vinyl over a fiberglass form or mold???

What i have in mind is armrests for my streetrod. I have made epoxy glass molds or forms for the left and right sides. They have relatively sharp edges as they are only 2 inches thick and about 2 1/2 inches wide at the front. The plan is to cover these and attach them to the aluminum door panels. Pictures would be great but I just don't have then ready yet.

I tried to pull the material around them but it is just too thick and stiff. I tried making 2 and 3 piece covers sewed togther but the seams are too high and I just don't have the skill to sew a u-bend this tight. Picture 180 deg vinyl binding on a 1 1/4 inch radius.

I have a heat gun and a very good vacuum pump so I thought I'd give this a try. I could get some vacuum bagging supplies but I think I may be able to seal the back side of the vinyl down to a board...even add some staples if necessary to firmly hold it and try and pull a vacuum while appling heat to set the vinyl.


Any thoughts on this????

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Old 08-05-2012, 07:45 AM
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Your problem is probably going to be the backing on the vinyl. Un supported/backed material would be best. Then elastic back. The rest of the backings make the material difficult to form.
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Old 08-05-2012, 10:43 AM
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Yup the backing will be the issue but now if you can find some thin unbacked vinyl or some with a really thin back then the heat forming may work..worth a try anyway..

Sam
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Old 08-05-2012, 07:09 PM
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I've already looked at the local fabric store. They have tons of material but it all has some kind of backing.

My initial testing shows that I can indeed crease the material with heat. I forgot my heat gun so i couldn't monitor the temp. I also melted some of the material just to see what would happen....not good... it also discolored it even the dark gray. The pattern went smooth too.

Maybe this is why the arm rests in my truck are fabric.. I'm got 13 years and 280k on it and they still look like new.

I'll try again tomorrow.
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Old 08-06-2012, 07:14 AM
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Vinyl, even 4 way stretch vinyl, will only do so much. You can try from now until doomsday, and you won't get vinyl fabric to do concave shapes and right angles without tailoring it. By tailoring it, I mean cutting it apart in more than one piece and sewing it together, or sewing in pockets. Arm rests are simple, and would only need one seam to look good. Take a picture of them, and I'll tell you how to do them.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:54 AM
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Quick note on vinyl backings that you may already know: Some of the backings on vinyl can be peeled off with a product called MEK. You can get it at Lowes. You just brush it on the backing and give it maybe 30 seconds and the MEK will disolve the bond between the backing and the vinyl. You are left with an extremely stretchy piece of vinyl. Its really handy when trying to cover small pieces to match the vinyl upholstery.

Bryan
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:04 AM
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MEK, or Methyl ethyl ketone, also known as Butanone is very dangerous stuff. I urge all of you not to use this stuff. There are other ways to deal with covering your parts with vinyl.

Look at this thread:Covering Armrests With Vinyl
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Old 08-07-2012, 01:03 PM
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I dont understand how you would glue down vinyl without backing, I havent found any adhesive that will adhere to straight vinyl. Ill use industrial superglue for little trouble areas, usually when wrapping vinyl around the backside. Thats the only thing Ive found to work with the actual vinyl.

Unless your planning on just stapling it to the backside and not gluing. For complex shapes that might not be the best. I would try to tailor it like dan said.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:43 AM
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Actually for glueing vinyl to plastic you can use and adhesion promoter (ie Bully Dog) and then just use the weldwood contact cement. There is another glue called HH-66 that will basically "weld" two vinyls together. Its good stuff. Dan is right on the MEK. It definitely has a nasty odor.

Bryan
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:21 PM
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Besides smelling bad, MEK is explosive and can also irritate eyes and noses.
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