Sputtering 101

darkzero

Flashaholic* ,
Joined
Oct 7, 2003
Messages
4,457
Location
SoCal
Many have asked me about my techniques in sputtering so I thought I'd share. I don't consider myself to be pro but I've learned how to get pretty fair results. I'm not a painter (although I have done lots of painting from car interiors to model cars) so I'm sure there may be others that are better at it than me. Although it's kind of hard to explain how I do it, keep in mind I'm only sharing what I've learned to work best for me as I have tried many methods & I can get different finishes.

I first started sputtering in late 2003 when I heard of this. As far as I know & as far back as I can remember Lambda is the one who came up with this. Kevin is the one I thank for this. This thread started by Milky is one of the early threads that I can remember, there were others but I can't find them.

Basically, forget anything you know about spray painting, as a nice even coat will only get you a blurry picture of the beam artifacts. You want the Krylon to just sputter onto the reflector surface in small droplets. Don't shake the can more than 15-20 sec before spraying. Spray from about 14 inches in very short burst. Rotate the reflector 90 degress between spray burst.

sputter1.jpg


The one on the left is sputtered, on the right stock.


To start, the paint used is very important. The paint Lambda used is Kryon Crystal Clear Acrylic Gloss #1301. There's also Krylon #51301 which is essentially the same, I find no differences between the two. Another one that was not available back then is Rustoleum Crystal Clear Gloss #1901830. Pay attention to these part numbers or the description as both are available in matte finishes as well.

I've experimented with other clears over the years & these two still give me the best results. Although both work great I now prefer to the Rustoleum as it seems to be more durable. Neither turn yellow over the years but I have had reflectors start to "crack" (the sputtering) over the years with the Krylon. Haven't experienced that yet with the Rustoleum, perhaps it has something to do with the UV resistant formula?

Img_2780.jpg


I don't use the stock tip that comes with the Krylon although it's not bad. IIRC I use a tip from RC car body paint from when I was into RC (I tend to keep tips from all the different spary cans I've had). The Rustolem's stock tip is horrible for sputtering IMO. The spray particle size is too large. That's fine if you are looking to get a heavy sputter. Finding a nice replacement tip for the Rustoleum may not be easy as the can uses a female tip rather than a male tip as most commonly found on spray cans. Although I prefer a fine spray pattern it's not abosultely necessary to get a nice finish.

As Kevin stated, forget anything you know about spray painting, well somewhat. Generally with painting you want to avoid the orange peel effect but this is what we want to simulate a schotastic reflector.

I use a technique similar to what Kevin has stated. The first coat(s) I "mist" in short bursts to give a "overspray" coat. Depending on the amount of texture I want I will give 1-3 coats like this. If these inital coats are too heavy you may not achieve enough texture after the final coat. Let dry between coats. 5 mins is good enough as the paint drys fast. What I do differently than Kevin is give it a final "wet" coat as if you were painting to achieve a nice finish. This will bring back the shine to the reflector if done correctly. To simulate a stipple reflector don't give it a final "wet" coat.

For smaller reflectors I find that a final wet coat is generally not needed. Instead I give a slightly heavier coat on the initial coats & I never need to do more than two coats. I can usually get a good texture with just one coat.

Other do's & don'ts that I do.
-Don't try cleaning the reflector's surface to promote surface adhesion (you should never ever touch a reflector's surface with anything!).
-Use compressed air to blow the surface clean. Clean between coats if needed. If you're using an air compressor be sure to drain your tank of water and/or use a good air/water seperator.
-If you get lint in the paint while spraying, either live with it, or wait till the coat dries & if you're lucky you might be able to blow it off with compressed air if the lint landed on the coat as it has somewhat dried. If using an air compressor don't blow to close or with high pressure, you can blow the coat right off.
-If cutting the cam off or modifying the reflector, do so before sputtering.
-If it's humid or very cold you may not get good results. Avoid sputtering on rainly days. Luckily I'm in Socal so I don't see very many of those days.
-Don't use sputtered reflectors for hotwires. I've never actually tried though.
-Most importantly don't be an idiot like me who sometimes sputters in the garage with no doors open cause I don't want bugs to get in. :laughing: Sputter in a well ventalated area but not in a windy area.


I'm sure there's more that I can't think of right now but I can always add to this later. There's other techniques that I find to work as well but again, this is just what I find to work best for me & is not necessarily how you are "supposed to do it". I'm sure others have different methods too, like hair spray so I've heard.

If anyone else would like to share their thoughts & techniques or have questions, please do not hesitate to post here.


Some examples:

I've had lots of practice & even more practice with these sales:
Sputtered Mag Reflectors (Sale Thread)
Modified MiniMag Reflectors (Sale Thread)

Post #18 from the Mag sale thread shows some differences on schotastics compare to the ones I have done.

Hard to show the results as different angles on camera will make the texture appear differently. Believe it or not, these two pics are of the same exact reflector (from the post above).
sputter_top.jpg

sputter_angle.jpg



Img_1883-1.jpg


Left: Sputtered reflector, Right: KD MOP (FM clone)
sputtered_KDMOP.jpg


Img_1577.jpg


MagAA
Img_3346.jpg


Img_6024.jpg


Img_2154.jpg


HDS McR-20
IMG_4749.jpg


FM Deep 2"
Img_3668.jpg


Left: Stock FM Deep 2", Right: Sputtered FM Deep 2"
Img_3659.jpg


Img_3720.jpg


Sputtered McR-20
IMG_0833.jpg


Sputtered Khatod20
Img_2368.jpg


Sputtered KL4
Img_8487.jpg


Left: Sputtered KL4 MC-E, Right: Stock KL4
Img_8759.jpg


Sputtered Streamlight hybrid reflector (DragonHeart)
Looks like this stock.
Img_2625.jpg


Img_0001.jpg


Stipple effect sputter McR-20
Img_9991.jpg


Another stipple effect sputter McR-20
Img_2631.jpg


Img_4297.jpg



Thanks for looking. :wave:
 
Last edited:

Sgt. LED

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 4, 2007
Messages
7,486
Location
Chesapeake, Ohio
Amazing work.
You have inspired me to not try this myself but to have you sputter anything I ever need done - ever! :thumbsup:

Really who could do better. :)
 

spc

Enlightened
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
557
Location
Troutman, NC
heres a tip:

if your sputtered reflector comes out horrible, dont throw it away. You can save it!

ok so you just put your final coat on and is runs or a bug lands in it or it just doesnt look right: you can put a couple more heavy coats on (give it a couple min in between coats) then wait until its dry to the touch, usually doesn't take long. The clear will be kinda soft at this point. Take a piece of duct tape and stick it around the rim of the reflector, push it on good. Then quickly peal it off. If there are enough coats of clear and its not to dry, it will peel off in one big piece.

The trick is to find the time when the clear is hard enough to peel but not hard enough to crack. Usually its like 20min to a half hour after your last thick coat.

And also don't touch or put tape on the inside reflector surface


heres an oem mag reflector I did with pretty much the same technique. I used Rustoleum Crystal clear (from walmart) with the spray tip that came on it.
dsc01747jq.jpg
 
Last edited:

wquiles

Flashaholic
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
8,459
Location
Texas, USA, Earth
Thanks Will for the detailed post. I have been practicing some, on the 6D I just finished, and you are right of course in that the angle on the camera shot makes the finish look very different. I used Minwax, Polyurethane, Fast Drying Clear Gloss spray:
DSCF8092.JPG


DSCF8093.JPG


DSCF8097.JPG


DSCF8098.JPG



On this ones, the bottom center one and bottom right one, did not turn out as nice:
DSCF8096.JPG



Here is the final shot of the reflectors once installed on the 1xD and the 6xD:
DSCF8099.JPG



I still need to follow your instructions in this post and lots more practice ;)

Will
 

Aircraft800

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
1,487
Location
DFW Texas.
Very Nice tutorial! It's hit or miss for me. I did 2 good ones one day, then the next, screwed up my last 4, either way, they never came out as good as yours!

Thanks Will!
 

wquiles

Flashaholic
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Messages
8,459
Location
Texas, USA, Earth
is there a particular reason not to use it for hot wires?

Crenshaw
Yes, heat. Unlike LED's who heat the heatsink and have no appreciable heat output out the front of the light, hotwires emanate a large amount of heat - the heat from the hotwires demand a metal reflector. A plastic reflector will simply melt :poof:
 

Mettee

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 5, 2008
Messages
678
Location
Arizona
Thanks DZ

....good to know about the brands of paint you used and the "tip" trick...I will have to check my local hobby store. I think we all appreciate the help you gave with this post.

drew
 

Patriot

Flashaholic
Joined
Feb 13, 2007
Messages
11,255
Location
Arizona
Good timing DZ. It's been a while since I've done this and I was about to fix up a light for my uncle. It looks like the technique provides very good results.

Thanks for the help.
 

darkzero

Flashaholic* ,
Joined
Oct 7, 2003
Messages
4,457
Location
SoCal
Thanks for sharing SPC.

Will, on the ones you say that did not turn out as nice, try giving them a final "wet" coat, they just might turn out better than expected. You'll be pro in no time! :twothumbs
 

tx101

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
May 17, 2008
Messages
2,347
Location
London UK
This is very hit or miss for me too.
I must have tried to sputter 10 - 15 reflectors, only 2 of them
came out any good :(
If only my ones came out half as good :mecry:

This is definitely an art form :D
 

allburger

Enlightened
Joined
Jan 7, 2008
Messages
564
Location
Mid Michigan
Whatever happened to using hairspray??? I've sputtered mag reflectors this way and when it doesnt turn it out, you run it under water. No rubbing required to remove it. Let it dry and respray. It's always worked well for me.
 

Crenshaw

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Messages
4,308
Location
Singapore
Yes, heat. Unlike LED's who heat the heatsink and have no appreciable heat output out the front of the light, hotwires emanate a large amount of heat - the heat from the hotwires demand a metal reflector. A plastic reflector will simply melt :poof:

Oh I meant if sputtering on a metal reflector.....

will sputtering even work on a metal reflector?

Crenshaw
 

PCC

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 28, 2007
Messages
2,292
Location
Sitting' on the dock o' The Bay...
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but, the heat from a hotwire will simply melt the clear paint right off of the metal reflector. I don't see why you cannot sputter a metal reflector.
 

Sgt. LED

Flashaholic
Joined
Sep 4, 2007
Messages
7,486
Location
Chesapeake, Ohio
Sputtering a metal reflector and using it in a hotwire will smoke the sputtering medium. Dark brown or even black nastyness depending on how hot it gets.

Perhaps an automotive clear coat could work?
 
Top