This instructable explains how to paint a vacuum formed plastic nose cowl for a radio control airplane.  It is very common for plane kits to include plastic vacuum formed parts.  They are always clear or white or some other color that doesn't match the color you plan on covering your airplane.  I used the paint spray booth at TechShop, Allen Park, MI to do the painting.

I made it at Techshop

Step 1: Prepare the Parts

For this example, I had 2 cowls to paint.   One is intended to be red and one is intended to be blue.  You need to cut out the parts from any extra they might have.  A #11 exacto knife and scissors works well for this task.  For anything you are using the exacto knife for, it works best to score the parts a bit and then fold them until they break.  Trying to cut entirely through can be difficult.  If your nose cowl was multiple pieces, you can use plastic cement or MEK as it's otherwise known.  It's a solvent that more or less dissolves the 2 parts together.  Most of these are made of styrene so you can buy strip or sheet styrene at a hobby store to reinforce the cowl a little bit if you crack it or otherwise damage it.

Once your parts are together, you can clean them up using a scotchbrite pad.  This will rough up the surface a little bit and the paint will stick better.  It will also remove any wax or other reside on the parts.

To hold the parts while painting, I like to glue them to some balsa sticks.  For these I used a 3/16" square stick.  I used a little CA adhesive and kicker to glue the balsa stick to the insides of the cowls.  CA doesn't stick well to styrene so the sticks will break off very easily when your done painting.

Right before painting, wipe the parts off with a paper towl and acetone.   

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an auto safety engineer. In my spare time I like sailing and radio control airplanes and boats.
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