My experiments with chrome paint and clear coat

JonW

Active Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2021
Messages
63
I've been making 1:18 light bars and other police car parts with my 3D printer. I needed a way to paint them with chrome paint. The problem is that with most chrome paint, you cannot touch the part after painting or it could turn dull where it's touched. The other issue is that trying to protect the chrome painted part with a clear coat can also cause discoloration or dulling issues. So I decided to do some experimenting. I do not have an airbrush, so whatever products I chose had to be in a rattle can. There is also Molotow chrome in pen form, and I will discuss that at the end of this review.

For this test, I chose 4 "chrome" paints in rattle cans. I painted a 3D printed test stick with each paint, 4 test sticks in all. After letting the test stick dry for 48 hours, I covered the top half of the paint sticks with a top coat. I let that dry for 48 hours. I photographed the paint sticks with half coated and half uncoated so you could hopefully see the difference. Then I touched the uncoated part 10 times, as if I were picking it up to place on a model. This was touch and release, not holding for an extended period. The last test was the rub text, where I forcefully rubbed my thumb over the uncoated part to see if any paint rubbed off.

Here are the results:

Test #1: ACE Hardware Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

OQeQ8ow.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color of the paint.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #2: Duplicolor Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

Hgx3Ng6.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color, but not as much as test #1
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #3: Eastwood Almost Chrome paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

QohKEtU.jpg


The Eastwood paint is marketed as a paint to restore the inside of tail light housings. At first, it appeared that the Krylon clear coat discolored the paint stick as much as tests #1 and #2, but once the Krylon dried, it was less obvious.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: Some paint rubbed off, but not nearly as much as tests #1 and #2

Test #4: ACE Hardware Chrome paint with Eastwood Almost Chrome top coat

T8xBZrh.jpg


From an appearance stand point, this was the best result.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

For test #4, I thought the use of the Eastwood paint as a top coat would yield better results, but it did not. It fared worse than the Krylon as a protective top coat.

The ACE Hardware and Eastwood Almost Chrome look the most like chrome, at least as much as possible from a rattle can. The Duplicolor looked like shiny silver. The difference I noticed between the ACE and Eastwood paints is that the Eastwood seemed a bit more splotchy. I found that all the paints seemed to leech into the 3D printed parts and highlighted the layer lines more. As a result, I now spray my parts with a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear before spraying the chrome. The Krylon seems to level out the layer lines a bit, plus it gives me the opportunity to do some more sanding if necessary.

For my use, I will be using the ACE Hardware chrome paint. It is very reflective and looks the most like real chrome. I've found that if I let it cure for at least 48 hours, I can pick the part up and place it on the model with no ill effects. I've 3D printed some tools to use to hold the part in place until the glue sets. I've also found that if I spray the ACE paint a little dry, it looks more like stainless steel than chrome.

I've also experimented with the Molotow chrome pen. It definitely looks like real chrome. I use it for parts that are difficult to sand. I can apply the Molotow thick, so it flows out and helps hide the layer lines. I can also apply two coats if necessary, waiting 48 hours between coats. The Krylon Crystal Clear failed miserably on the Molotow, turning it a battleship gray. However, the Eastwood Almost Chrome only dulls it slightly, and at least makes it where the part can be handled sparingly. With no top coat, the Mototow chrome dulls as soon as you touch it.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

urumomo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2013
Messages
3,554
Are you priming beforehand ?
Black primer is the best for this .
It's not going to change anything with the clear-coat interactions but can definitely moderate the appearance of the chrome paint .
 

JonW

Active Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2021
Messages
63
No, not priming. Only using the Krylon clear for a base coat. For the small parts I'm using, it turns out fine. Black may be a better base for larger parts.
 

Peppylepugh

Active Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
245
Jon, very interesting experiment.
The hatched lines I’m seeing in the pictures
are they the layer lines you are talking about?
Silver and chromes are going to amplify them
tremendously. Are they more like a scratch in the surface. Fairly consistent across the casting
(Sample)? Are something that is supposed to part of the lens?
3D printing, I know what it is, I’ve never seen a finished piece in real world.
I’m assuming all the under coats, color coats and clears are lacquer based?
Do you have any spares or cast-offs, where i
might try to eliminate them? Yeah, a couple
squares would be cool. I got more questions myself. Could send them back let you evaluate them. See what you think.
 
Last edited:

JonW

Active Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2021
Messages
63
The hatched lines are the top layer finish, and as you said, the chrome paint amplifies them. I didn't do any ironing of the top layer or any sanding before painting. I didn't take the time to research if the paints were lacquer or not. My goal was to try paints that were readily available to most people.
Sorry, I held on to the samples for a few days and then pitched them.
 

Little Cutie

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
206
I have heard of Alclad II and others similar including the Motolow brand pens and spray paint. I use Spaztix. There's a slight learning curve with it but it's not steep. Most people use gloss black as a base but that's only because they are spraying it over another surface and want the colour to be consistent - not splotchy. I have painted it over white, red, and black, and even gray. It brings out more depth in darker colours but it really makes no truly profound difference in the overall effect. I had Alclad II that I sold and never used. After watch a YouTube video I've seen a comparison between the two and it's night and day. It's not as durable as Spazix and cannot be clear coated over without dulling. Also it doesn't have the same depth no matter what colour your undercoat is. I see that this is brighter in white than it black meaning that it is slightly lighter so if you're looking for a more polished aluminum look - use white. If you're going for a more chrome look with a slightly darker hue then go with black for the undercoat. I bought mine from the local hobby shop for $12.00 a year ago. I got the spray cans just so I could experiment without breaking out my airbrush(es). I have Spaztix in the airbrush bottle too but it has to be poured out into an airbrush and that takes more time and effort than I want to put in when I use it.

Here are two links that you might find useful:

https://www.hobbyrecreationproducts.com/products/szx10009-ultimate-mirror-chrome-aerosol

 

blakeh1

Active Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
353
Here is a brush on paint that has a pretty amazing effect. You can see reflections in it

Just make sure to use old brushes as it kind of beats them up. Thin/clan with alcohol

It can also be airbrushed, but I think the hand brushed effect actually looks better

You put it on kind of thick, and it will self level and thin when dried


 
Last edited:

Little Cutie

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
206
Here is a brush on paint that has a pretty amazing effect. You can see reflections in it

Just make sure to use old brushes as it kind of beats them up. Thin/clan with alcohol

It can also be airbrushed, but I think the hand brushed effect actually looks better

You put it on kind of thick, and it will self level and thin when dried



You know it's about time that the world got chrome paint that actually LOOKS like chrome! I've stopped working on my '57 Chevy because I absolutely hated the chrome foil that I put on it. That was TWENTY YEARS AGO! This just made things worse and looked horribly amaturish!! I make my models look like showcars when I build. That was no better than gluing it with Elmer's brand glue and using aluminum foil to resemble actual stainless steel trim or chrome in just about any scale! Now I can paint it with Spaztix and get the desired results and not be embarrassed.
 

Dennis Levitt

New Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
3
I've been making 1:18 light bars and other police car parts with my 3D printer. I needed a way to paint them with chrome paint. The problem is that with most chrome paint, you cannot touch the part after painting or it could turn dull where it's touched. The other issue is that trying to protect the chrome painted part with a clear coat can also cause discoloration or dulling issues. So I decided to do some experimenting. I do not have an airbrush, so whatever products I chose had to be in a rattle can. There is also Molotow chrome in pen form, and I will discuss that at the end of this review.

For this test, I chose 4 "chrome" paints in rattle cans. I painted a 3D printed test stick with each paint, 4 test sticks in all. After letting the test stick dry for 48 hours, I covered the top half of the paint sticks with a top coat. I let that dry for 48 hours. I photographed the paint sticks with half coated and half uncoated so you could hopefully see the difference. Then I touched the uncoated part 10 times, as if I were picking it up to place on a model. This was touch and release, not holding for an extended period. The last test was the rub text, where I forcefully rubbed my thumb over the uncoated part to see if any paint rubbed off.

Here are the results:

Test #1: ACE Hardware Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

OQeQ8ow.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color of the paint.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #2: Duplicolor Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

Hgx3Ng6.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color, but not as much as test #1
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #3: Eastwood Almost Chrome paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

QohKEtU.jpg


The Eastwood paint is marketed as a paint to restore the inside of tail light housings. At first, it appeared that the Krylon clear coat discolored the paint stick as much as tests #1 and #2, but once the Krylon dried, it was less obvious.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: Some paint rubbed off, but not nearly as much as tests #1 and #2

Test #4: ACE Hardware Chrome paint with Eastwood Almost Chrome top coat

T8xBZrh.jpg


From an appearance stand point, this was the best result.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

For test #4, I thought the use of the Eastwood paint as a top coat would yield better results, but it did not. It fared worse than the Krylon as a protective top coat.

The ACE Hardware and Eastwood Almost Chrome look the most like chrome, at least as much as possible from a rattle can. The Duplicolor looked like shiny silver. The difference I noticed between the ACE and Eastwood paints is that the Eastwood seemed a bit more splotchy. I found that all the paints seemed to leech into the 3D printed parts and highlighted the layer lines more. As a result, I now spray my parts with a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear before spraying the chrome. The Krylon seems to level out the layer lines a bit, plus it gives me the opportunity to do some more sanding if necessary.

For my use, I will be using the ACE Hardware chrome paint. It is very reflective and looks the most like real chrome. I've found that if I let it cure for at least 48 hours, I can pick the part up and place it on the model with no ill effects. I've 3D printed some tools to use to hold the part in place until the glue sets. I've also found that if I spray the ACE paint a little dry, it looks more like stainless steel than chrome.

I've also experimented with the Molotow chrome pen. It definitely looks like real chrome. I use it for parts that are difficult to sand. I can apply the Molotow thick, so it flows out and helps hide the layer lines. I can also apply two coats if necessary, waiting 48 hours between coats. The Krylon Crystal Clear failed miserably on the Molotow, turning it a battleship gray. However, the Eastwood Almost Chrome only dulls it slightly, and at least makes it where the part can be handled sparingly. With no top coat, the Mototow chrome dulls as soon as you touch it.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

Dennis Levitt

New Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
3
I've been making 1:18 light bars and other police car parts with my 3D printer. I needed a way to paint them with chrome paint. The problem is that with most chrome paint, you cannot touch the part after painting or it could turn dull where it's touched. The other issue is that trying to protect the chrome painted part with a clear coat can also cause discoloration or dulling issues. So I decided to do some experimenting. I do not have an airbrush, so whatever products I chose had to be in a rattle can. There is also Molotow chrome in pen form, and I will discuss that at the end of this review.

For this test, I chose 4 "chrome" paints in rattle cans. I painted a 3D printed test stick with each paint, 4 test sticks in all. After letting the test stick dry for 48 hours, I covered the top half of the paint sticks with a top coat. I let that dry for 48 hours. I photographed the paint sticks with half coated and half uncoated so you could hopefully see the difference. Then I touched the uncoated part 10 times, as if I were picking it up to place on a model. This was touch and release, not holding for an extended period. The last test was the rub text, where I forcefully rubbed my thumb over the uncoated part to see if any paint rubbed off.

Here are the results:

Test #1: ACE Hardware Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

OQeQ8ow.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color of the paint.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #2: Duplicolor Chrome Paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

Hgx3Ng6.jpg


The Krylon clear coat definitely changed the color, but not as much as test #1
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

Test #3: Eastwood Almost Chrome paint with Krylon Crystal Clear top coat

QohKEtU.jpg


The Eastwood paint is marketed as a paint to restore the inside of tail light housings. At first, it appeared that the Krylon clear coat discolored the paint stick as much as tests #1 and #2, but once the Krylon dried, it was less obvious.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: Some paint rubbed off, but not nearly as much as tests #1 and #2

Test #4: ACE Hardware Chrome paint with Eastwood Almost Chrome top coat

T8xBZrh.jpg


From an appearance stand point, this was the best result.
Touch test: pass
Rub test: fail

For test #4, I thought the use of the Eastwood paint as a top coat would yield better results, but it did not. It fared worse than the Krylon as a protective top coat.

The ACE Hardware and Eastwood Almost Chrome look the most like chrome, at least as much as possible from a rattle can. The Duplicolor looked like shiny silver. The difference I noticed between the ACE and Eastwood paints is that the Eastwood seemed a bit more splotchy. I found that all the paints seemed to leech into the 3D printed parts and highlighted the layer lines more. As a result, I now spray my parts with a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear before spraying the chrome. The Krylon seems to level out the layer lines a bit, plus it gives me the opportunity to do some more sanding if necessary.

For my use, I will be using the ACE Hardware chrome paint. It is very reflective and looks the most like real chrome. I've found that if I let it cure for at least 48 hours, I can pick the part up and place it on the model with no ill effects. I've 3D printed some tools to use to hold the part in place until the glue sets. I've also found that if I spray the ACE paint a little dry, it looks more like stainless steel than chrome.

I've also experimented with the Molotow chrome pen. It definitely looks like real chrome. I use it for parts that are difficult to sand. I can apply the Molotow thick, so it flows out and helps hide the layer lines. I can also apply two coats if necessary, waiting 48 hours between coats. The Krylon Crystal Clear failed miserably on the Molotow, turning it a battleship gray. However, the Eastwood Almost Chrome only dulls it slightly, and at least makes it where the part can be handled sparingly. With no top coat, the Mototow chrome dulls as soon as you touch it.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 
Joined
May 27, 2010
Messages
22
Gloss black as a base let dry overnight. Then shoot Alclad Chrome lightly just leaving a hint of the black peeking thru. This will give you a realistic chrome look specially on auto parts.

If you want to clear coat it use AK Gauzy Shine Enhancer. It will not affect the metallic sheen as evident on my F84 below sprayed over Alclad Polished Aluminum. B0079798-A178-406A-8B5B-2F9F2885CEE5.jpeg
 
Last edited:

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