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Thread: Vinyl Graphics Instead of Paint?

  1. #1

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    Vinyl Graphics Instead of Paint?

    I read an article a while back about someone that completely wrapped one of the Sonex designs in vinyl instead of painting it. Has there ever been a follow-up or has anyone else done something similar? I am wondering how the vinyl has stood up over time and if there have been any quality or safety of flight issues? Also, with the Sonex being a metal design, would the vinyl adhere to a fiberglass aircraft just as well?

    I also heard about a company that does full vinyl wraps for remote controlled aircraft but have not been able to find anything on the internet.

    The long term plans for my Dragonfly include paint and I just want to start gathering as much information on options as I can.

    Thanks in advance for all the help.

    Cheers;

    Robin

    C-FEYS
    Dragonfly MkIIH

    Aviation:
    For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
    For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

  2. #2
    CarlOrton's Avatar
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    Hi, Robin;

    Take a look at the picture of my airplane to the left. Just behind my cowl I applied a wrap to the bare aluminum.

    It's adhered well, but I've only made two flights on it since my AW inspection, so as far as long-term reliability, sorry; no data.

    I was a bit disappointed in the ability of the material to conform to the AN525 machine screws that hold the motor mounts to the fuselage. I've tried several ways to improve, but none work. I MAY HAVE BEEN SOLD a different kind of wrap material. The shop I used just happened to be on the way home from the airport, so I really didn't shop around. By that, the material seemed thicker than I would have imagined for a wrap, but I had nothing with which to compare. It's a 3M product; that's about all I know.

    Regardless, I'd do it again; my graphic design, while intellectually simple, would have been a bear to mask-off and paint.

    EDIT: duh....didn't know I couldn't expand my avatar. If you'd like, I'll send you a bigger copy showing the graphic. Or, you can check the last picture of the most recent log entry at http://mykitlog.com/corton
    Last edited by CarlOrton; 07-03-2012 at 08:31 AM. Reason: explanation of graphic

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170
    http://mykitlog.com/corton

  3. #3
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I had Vinyl graphics on my plane before it was painted the last time. Not the N-numbers but some of the Navion logos, etc... Worked fine.
    I've had vinyl registration numbers on my boat for nearly NINE years now and you won't get much worse of an environment than that. They're still adhering and looking fine.

  4. #4
    Aaron Novak's Avatar
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    My three concerns would be this:

    1) The obvious of it coming off in flight.

    2) Corrosion. You would still need to prime and paint the aluminum prior to wrapping, and the wrap material may aggrevate certain corrosion phenomenon.

    3) Inspection. Much like a think coat of powdercoat type paint, the wrap can hide things.

  5. #5

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    Vinyl Graphics

    There is a lot of vinly graphics being applied to not only aircraft but complete road vehicals as well. Cirrus graphics are all vinyl...Vinyl Graphich, Oostburg Wi has a system that enables them to develop custom graphics for covering vans, suv's or a semi tractor trailer with no problem and the new materials are not effected by X-Rays or Cold weather. http://www.vinylgraphics.net/ They will be doing mine later this year.

    The vinyl seals off the Al from oxidation, no corrosion, the contact strength is superior and will not lift, Kohler company has been running their fleet of semi trailers for 5 plus years, the Milw buss fleet for 12 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by TaelDragon View Post
    I read an article a while back about someone that completely wrapped one of the Sonex designs in vinyl instead of painting it. Has there ever been a follow-up or has anyone else done something similar? I am wondering how the vinyl has stood up over time and if there have been any quality or safety of flight issues? Also, with the Sonex being a metal design, would the vinyl adhere to a fiberglass aircraft just as well?

    I also heard about a company that does full vinyl wraps for remote controlled aircraft but have not been able to find anything on the internet.

    The long term plans for my Dragonfly include paint and I just want to start gathering as much information on options as I can.

    Thanks in advance for all the help.

    Cheers;

    Robin

    C-FEYS
    Dragonfly MkIIH

    Aviation:
    For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
    For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

  6. #6

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    We did it way back in 1997 on an F-16 flight test program. Took the material to .85 Mach and over 5G in testing. As far as I can remember, it ended up not being worth the time to do it when compared to paint when you look at duarbility and longevity. I have an aquaintence that was probably involved in the testing and can quiz him on it. For what it's worth, if it wasn't cost effective in the long run, we didn't move it into production.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigCantwell View Post
    We did it way back in 1997 on an F-16 flight test program. Took the material to .85 Mach and over 5G in testing. As far as I can remember, it ended up not being worth the time to do it when compared to paint when you look at duarbility and longevity. I have an aquaintence that was probably involved in the testing and can quiz him on it. For what it's worth, if it wasn't cost effective in the long run, we didn't move it into production.
    Well, I'll remember that when I build my mach 1 experimental....

  8. #8

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    Hi David: We also did a short test with a C-130 if I remember correctly. I think the end results were that it didn't hold up in the long run and would have to be removed and new applied more often than conventional paint. It's probably fine for something that doesn't fly much, but for our operational world, it wasn't working. I've worked on customers' a/c that had vinyl graphics and most were starting to look ratty after just a couple of years. Some of the newer materials may be worth looking in to tho. We looked at using vinyl in a couple different places on some restorations that I worked on, but ended up taking it off and going with regular paint. Two things about vinyl... heat weakens the adhesive bond, so keeping the a/c outside all the time has the potential for the appliques to start lifting. Also, the vinyls don't take paint real well, so fading and touch up could be a problem.

    If someone really wants to play with the technique, it might be worth seeing what the NASCAR and Indy car guys use for their sticker stuff. I've never been close to one of the cars after a summer race, but what they look like up close would give you some indication as to how the material holds up.

  9. #9
    Aaron Novak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimw View Post

    The vinyl seals off the Al from oxidation, no corrosion, the contact strength is superior and will not lift, Kohler company has been running their fleet of semi trailers for 5 plus years, the Milw buss fleet for 12 years.
    Some of this claim I would be suspect of. The materials used on road vehicles send to be a lot of 5xxx and 6xxx series alloys, and have quite different coating requirements of the 2xxx series seen heavily in aircraft. A wrap is no substitute for an epoxy prime and topcoat when it comes to corrosion, at least on the salt spray testing I have seen.

  10. #10

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    Greetings Everyone;Sorry for the delay, been out of my Internet coverage area for the last few days.So, what I gather is that it is possible but may not stand up to Air Force levels of flight time and remain cost effective. Corrosion resistance won't be a factor for me as I have a fiberglass aircraft. Looks like I'll have to find someone local and see if they might be interested in working up a quote.I appreciate the help and will post progress here as it happens. Cheers,Robin

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