It is extraordinary to look back over the years and see exactly how much boat windows have increased in price. On my own boat I made all the frames out of plywood and Lexan but there are some areas that could always do with some more light and I am sure that always applies to most boats. I had a look at some of those glass and metal prisms the other day in an antique parts dealer and nearly fell over when I saw them priced at nearly two hundred dollars each!
One of the major problems with moulding clear panels in Australia is the difficulty of dealing with Ultra Violet discoloration in resins. To overcome this we have to use resins and hardeners with a resistance to U.V. degradation. This is done by substituting some of the styrene content with methyl methacrylate. This is referred to as a methacrylate Resin or light stabilised resin. Before attempting any part of this project clear the details with your resin supplier who will be sure to put you on the right track with brand names and materials. The resin used matches as near possible to the refractive qualities of the glass.
USING THE RIGHT GLASS.
The glass side of things can be taken care of by using powder-bonded chopped strand glass mat but emulsion-bond mat can also be used for translucent panels. The actual technique for producing flat clear panels is not as difficult as you might think but a few criteria are needed. First, cleanliness is essential, a level surface/i.e. table, solid bench to work on, dead level, not partly!
WHAT DO WE NEED?
Ø A smooth shiny flat surface i.e. glass, new hardboard panels (shiny side up) 6 inches bigger than the required panel, two off.
Ø Glass mat 1.5 oz (450 g/m2) for medium panels, a single piece of 2 ounce (600 g/m2) can be used. For a larger heavier panel, two pieces of 1.5 ounce (450 g/m2) can be used.
Ø Some new cellophane or polythene sheet.
Ø Polyester methacrylate Resin/light stabilised resin and catalyst.
Ø Glass roller and normal roller (no fluff, good quality).
COLOURED TRANSLUCENT SHEETS.
If you want your panel to be coloured or tinted, you must mix up the pigment into your resin before application. The only stuff to use is translucent colour paste. Opaque colour paste pigments must not be used.
WHAT DO WE DO?
Ø Lay out your base plate (shiny surface up).
Ø Lay out first sheet of cellophane (or polythene) taping flat, clear of wrinkles.
Ø Cut your required glass panel size from glassfibre mat (ensure mat is smaller than base surfaces).
Ø Mix up your resin (with or without translucent colour paste).
Ø Apply generous amount of resin with a hair free brush. Work out all air bubbles.
Ø Apply second sheet of cellophane (or polythene) on top of glass mat and resin.
Ø Taking time, roll out all the bubbles.
Ø Take second sheet of shiny hardboard or glass (safety glass please) lay on top of second sheet of cellophane (or polythene) making a ‘sandwich’.
Ø Roller carefully all over
Ø Allow glass to cure and harden
Ø Peel off cellophane (or polythene) off the cured panel.
Ø The panel can then be cut square or shaped with a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade (fine toothed, slow speed) after full curing.
USES AND APPLICATIONS!
These lightweight, tough and virtually unbreakable clear panels are great for areas where safety is paramount. A garden shed is only one application, hatches or light panels on boats is another. Coloured panels can be made for ‘stained glass affects’ using translucent colours and are pleasant on boats. Other uses are heat resistant tabletops and mats and really the applications here are limited only by your own imagination. Hang on, I have just thought of another….shower screens! I’m sure with enough thought more will spring to mind!
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It follows of course that surface textures may also spring to mind. You can incorporate already textured plastic panels as your original moulds, provided the textures allow faithful reproduction through the cellophane (or polythene). You can even make several panels of different coloured pigments, cut out shapes and by the adhesive lead moulding to make a very attractive non-glass lead lighting panels for internal cupboards. Experimentation is recommended here and no results guaranteed!
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