Visor Tint and Mirror Tests

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11B30B4

Well-Known Member
Visor Tint and Mirror Tests

Hello everyone,
I have read through a few threads here on tinting and mirror visors. I have also researched this topic on a few other forums and I thought I would do some test and share the results with you all. I decided to do this test because of how unsatisfied I am with my mirrored green tint visor for my Mandalorian build. The full build can be found here:

https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=278366

So for my visor I used this clear safety face shield from lowes, it cost around $15.00 For the test I used a similar face shied from Harbor Freight that cost just over $3.00.
VFmanAm.jpg

Once I cut the face shield to fit inside my helmet, I applied a green mirrored window tint. The tint I used was this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D3J4JGA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
So this seems to be the most common method used for these type of visors; however, I ran into some issues and I wanted to see if there was a better solution. I am aware that a lot of the Halo cos play visors are tinted with mirrored paint so that is where I am looking to test.
The issues with the window tint option are:
1. If the visor is bent to insert it inside the helmet or fit over bolts, the tint has a propensity to delaminate from the visor plastic.
2. Removing all the bubbles from the tint is really hard (for me at least)
After three failed attempts at mounting a visor that looked good, I ended up applying the tint once the visor was installed inside the helmet. I was able to achieve a somewhat successful outcome with this method but I was not fully happy with it, hence this test.
Here is a picture of the window tint visor in my helmet.

gweiq3W.jpg


And here is how it looks from inside the helmet.

JztU0hP.jpg


And this is the visor out of the helmet.

RZhicLV.jpg


And here you can cee the bubbles and delaminated areas.

RjX38jw.jpg


So, for this test I will evaluate three mirror paint products. Krylon Looking Glass Silver, Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect, and Spaz Stix Ultimate Mirror Chrome. I am sure there are other options out there and from what I understand, Alclad is the same thing as Spaz Stix. I used the spray paint version of Spaz Stix because I did not want to clean my air brush. I have the airbrush paint as well and it’s the same thing. There are a ton of videos of these products on youtube. All of these products are designed to be painted on the back side of a transparent substrate and they will produce a mirrored look to the other side of the substrate. Both the Krylon and Rust-Oleum products seem to work well on glass but how do they work on plastics? I also wanted to experiment with some transparent paints to tint the visor so I also tested Testors Transparent Green Enamel (1601T), Tamiya Transparent Green Polycarb Spray (PS-44), and Krylon Stained Glass (Summer Green).

ENWJl0S.jpg


I will be testing all these products on a variety of plastics that may be used for visors in various cos play projects. Standard Plexiglass, Safety Face shield plastic, Duraplex, Plakolite (with one non-glare side), and Styrene.

bqlsHW5.jpg


So for these tests, I wanted to first establish what products worked on what plastics so I applied each product according to the directions. This means that they all were fairly thick and non-transparent just to see which products produced a mirror type effect. Also, for the Spaz Stix, I used a black backer paint as directed by the instructions. I only painted the black backer on about ½ of each sample, that area is marked by the arrow and dotted line on each Spaz Stix sample.

DZvmMro.jpg


Ok so first up was the plexiglass. I used some boxes with text and color on them to judge the reflectivity of the paint. Here you can see that Rust-Oleum was only somewhat reflective and very dull. Kind of like a stainless Steel or brushed steel look. The Kyrlon was a bit more reflective like a shiny steel look. The Spaz Stix was very reflective and clear.

R06wRNX.jpg


Next up is the face shield plastic. On this medium, the Rust-Oleum failed to produce a reflective look. The Krylon was only barely reflective; however, the Spaz Stix was once again a mirror finish.

7PJuOGA.jpg


Next was the Styrene, on this medium, both Rust-Oleum and Krylon failed to produce even a semi-reflective finish. The Spaz Stix, continued to produce a mirror on everything I threw at it.

23JenFM.jpg


Next was the Plaskolite non-glare polystyrene. On this medium, like the styrene both the Rust-Oleum and Krylon failed to produce a reflective finish. The Spaz Stix only produced a very dull reflective finish, this may have been the results of the non-glare properties of the Plaskolite.

8E7abcg.jpg


Lastly, on the Duraplex Acrylic, all three products produced a reflective finish. The Rust-Oleum was a dull mirror finish. The Krylon was a v3ery clear mirror finish but not quite perfect. The Spaz Stix was flawless.

jwI64k7.jpg


So what I learned was that the best plastic medium for the Chrome paints was Acrylic and of the three paints tested, the Spaz Stix performed the best and the Krylon was a close second.
Pricewise, all three of these small cans of paint cost about $11.00-$12.00 each. Both the Rust-Oleum and Krylon are 6oz. and the Spaz Stix is a 3.5oz.
Availability, All can be ordered online and Amazon sells them all as well. Locally, I found the Rust-Oleum at Home Depot, but I had to hit three different locations to find one that had it. I found the Kyrlon at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, and I found the Spaz Stix at a local hobby store and at Hobby Town USA.

More to come
 

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Collektor

Well-Known Member
I think they used a shade green welding shield for the ESB version of the helmet. You could pick up one of those and cut it to fit. Applying tint on these visors is always a royal pain.
 

11B30B4

Well-Known Member
Collektor, thanks for the information. I am aware of the welding shield visor but it would not have a "chrome" look and I am doing this test to see if there are methods that can be used for just about any shape and size of visor.
 

Lunajammer

Active Member
This is good stuff. Any post that demonstrates products and combinations is useful. Thanks for sharing your efforts.

A thought that I had is starting with a generic chrome mask that's readily available now at Halloween stores. It cuts pretty easy. I know that's not the point of your post, but someone could use your green tinting efforts on this mask as a starting point. The see-through is a little darker than yours though.

ChromeFace.png
 

11B30B4

Well-Known Member
Lunajammer, thanks for the suggestion. I had seen a YouTube video of a guy that uses these chrome face visors from Halloween stores. If I recall, the chrome paint will wear off when touched but that could be mitigated with a clear coat over it.

Ok so I have done some tint testing and here are the results.
Using the previously mentioned three options (Testors, Tamiya, and Krylon) here are the results on face shield material.

7xTX2aQ.jpg


Tot68vg.jpg


Although these look ok they are not as transparent as I had hoped for.

Additionally, I found three more options. Rit Dye makes a synthetic dye called dye more. Design Masters makes several tint colors in a spray paint and available at Michael’s, and Top Flite makes a green transparent film that is applied with heat for airplane wings called MonoKote and available at Hobby Town USA.
I mixed up some dye and heated it to about 150 degrees and soaked a visor made from the Duraplex in the bath for 30 minutes. I then did the same for a visor made of Styrene. Here are the results:

HCO6Je4.jpg


As you can see the Duraplex (on left) visor did tint somewhat but nowhere near what I wanted and the Styrene (on right) barely even tinted.

Moving forward I took the Duraplex visor and painted three coats of Spaz Stix on the inside and here is how it turned out.

4JZQDVK.jpg


Just holding up the visor alone this is what you can see through it.

wvL4V73.jpg


And here it is just placed inside my helmet.

Gzmw0Fl.jpg


I will share more next week. Thanks for the interest.
 

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11B30B4

Well-Known Member
OK everyone, I did some more tests and here is what I have to share.

Tint It on Styrene, not very transparent. I am not sure if it is the “Tint It” or some sort of chemical reaction to the styrene.

MWTnI0t.jpg


I realized that on some of my previous tests I stained or tinted the visor on the inside then sprayed the inside with the Spaz Stix mirror chrome. The mirror spay may not have sufficient adhesion or curing. This may cause the finished shield to not be as transparent as I wanted. So I have started o consider this in these new tests.

Here is Tamiya on the inside of a face shield and the Spaz Stix on the inside, as you can see, it is transparent but not good enough to see through for a visor.

lXRHNkV.jpg


And here is Tamiya on the inside of Duraplex with Spaz Stix on inside. Same problem here, you can see through it but its very distorted.

UnTd097.jpg


Another issue I identified is that the Duraplex has a non-glare side, this allows anything placed against it like a picture in a frame to be crystal clear but anything a few inches away from the Duraplex will be distorted. So this product is not a good choice for this purpose regardless of what products you use on it.

Here is a piece of Plexiglass (which is eventually acrylic) with Krylon on it. I am not sure what the issue here is, the Kyrylon is spotty and distorted like there was some sort of oil or grease on the plexiglass. The pleaiglass was thoroughly cleaned before spraying it so I assume the Krylon does not like this plexiglass.

4EKwkrd.jpg

This is the Krylon on the outside of Optix Acryllic (from Home Depot), very good results so far.

jtYg38B.jpg


And here is the same visor with 3 coats of Spaz Stix on the inside. Its not as clear as I wanted but it is workable.

TziBZ7p.jpg


The visor in the helmet.

ALLRtPc.jpg


And here is the view I have from inside the helmet.

enTU5tj.jpg


So based on these tests, If you can get the window tint film to work, it still provides the best view from inside the helmet verses using any of the paint techniques I have attempted; however, I have found a another possible solution.
While at home depot looking at the different types of acrylic sheets from Plaskolite, I found a sheet of copper tinted acrylic. It was about ¼” thick so it would be really had to use in my application but that got me thinking about what other products Plaskolite makes. After a quick search of their web site, I discovered that they make see through mirror acrylic and polycarbonate sheets. They even have different colors of see through mirror sheets.
I then called my local plastic supplier (Calsak Plastics) to see what they had in stock and to get an idea of pricing. I am still waiting on them to call me back. So I searched on Amazon and I found the mirror acrylic on amazon in various sizes and thicknesses, they even make a scratch resistant version which is noted with an SR next to the thickness. Here is the link on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074L7RQG...locphy=9010805&hvtargid=pla-301980143704&th=1
So I am not sure how this product will take shaping with a heat gun or how flexible it will be but they sell this stuff in 1mm thickness and 3mm thickness so hopefully the 1mm sheet will be flexible. If it takes the Krylon transparent spray paint on the outside then we will have a solid solution. I know this will not help someone who needs a large rounded visor like the EVA helmet but perhaps it could work for a lot of other applications such as Mandalorain helmets.

Once I have something to experiment with I will update it here. For now, thanks for the interest and all the likes.
 

11B30B4

Well-Known Member
Uridium, thank you for the compliment.

Alright this should be the final post unless someone has questions and I think this is a 90% solution for most people seeking a visor. If it can be made from a flat sheet of Acrylic, then this is the best solution I can come up with.

So you will need the following:
1 sheet of see through mirror Acrylic
A reliable method to cut the acrylic (band saw, knife and straight edge, etc.
One emery board nail file
Reliable method of attaching visor inside helmet (I used small bolts super glued (W/ baking soda) then rubber washers and nuts.
1 color correction light gel filter (if you want the mirror chrome to be a color (I used green))

This is fairly simple but does require a bit of skill. I first got a 12 x 24 sheet of the 1mm thick acrylic mirror thinking that the acrylic would be flexible enough to fit inside the helmet and conform to the curve I needed.

BekLQ3R.jpg


There is a small sticker on the sheet that explains that the clear film side is the mirror side and the blue film side is the inside side of the acrylic. Leaving the film on the acrylic, I traced out the shape I needed with a sharpie. I then used a band saw to cut the shape out. I soon learned that because the acrylic is so thin, it would crack if I was not very careful with it in the band saw. I then tried using an exacto knife and straight edge to cut it but that also resulted in the acrylic cracking at intersecting corners. I got the 12x24 sheet because I knew I would need the extra material to make several attempts. This size of sheet gave me enough material to make three visors. The last visor I very carefully cut it in the band saw and was able to get a good visor with no cracks. So slow is good and do not attempt curves.

Next, I wanted a green tint to my mirrored visor so I tested the Krylon tint spray on a cleaned piece and realized that the paint did not take to the acrylic like I had hoped. It came out very rough and made the acrylic very hard to see through. This sheet of 1mm acrylic had a non-scratch coating on it so I hoped that was what caused the paint to not take well.

8x9qCDD.jpg


Next I placed the good visor inside the helmet it looked good.

Gzmw0Fl.jpg


But, using the 1mm acrylic resulted in the acrylic cracking when any pressure was applied to it. As soon as I placed a nut on this bolt and hand tightening it cased the crack you see here.

FSsJgMA.jpg


I took an unused piece of the acrylic and hit it with a heat gun on the outside side of the mirror and I was able to curve it without distorting the view. The mirror coating on this stuff is on the inside side so if you attempt this do not apply heat to the inside side of the acrylic. This also means that you must be careful to not rib or scratch the inside as it will remove the mirror coating. I have not tested a clear coat on the inside but that may help protect the mirror once you have the visor shaped.

Well, armed with this new knowledge, I ordered another 12x24 sheet of the 1mm scratch resistant and I also ordered a sheet of 3mm thick 12x24 without the scratch resistance. Also knowing that I wanted a green tint, I found these 12x12 transparent color light gel filters for photography, so I ordered a set of them.

KMhuz0K.jpg


ZxzQ3uE.jpg


lKB3V15.jpg


Once everything arrived, I cut out a visor from the 3mm thick acrylic and tested the Krylon tint on a scrap piece. I got the same results where the Krylon would not take to the acrylic. Once I had the visor cut out, I used the emery board nail file to smooth the cut edges of the acrylic.

The color gels allow 90% light transmission so I laid the acrylic visor on the gel and used an exacto knife to cut the gel to fil the visor. I then placed the gel inside the helmet. Here you can see a piece of gel with the acrylic and how transparent it will be.

40hUXA9.jpg


U9dQfNp.jpg


Next, I used a heat gun and shaped the visor to the desired curve. Once it had cooled, I placed it inside the helmet and tightened it down with rubber washers and nuts. I used very little pressure to avoid cracking the visor.

6Hwf5rw.jpg


This is the view from inside the helmet.

ezTlEhs.jpg


And this is the outside.

3m1Cak5.jpg


In summary, the use of the 3mm thick see through mirrored acrylic along with the color gel seems to be a relatively cheap and effective solution for me in this application. You can get both the gels and acrylic from amazon and if you think you can do all this in one attempt then the materials should cost $8.99 for 4 color gels and $22.99 for a 12 x12 3mm acrylic mirror sheet. If you are going to need a larger visor that has curves on more than one axis, then the Spaz Stix option still looks like your best option.

I hope this helps some of you out and saves you some time and money in the process. Thanks for the interest.
 

chaoticgabby

New Member
Hey guys! New to visors & I only have a few years of cosplay experience. I bought some tinted film to use for a visor and realized that my visor was much more spherical than I anticipated (I ordered both at the same time). Now it is only a few days before Halloween and I have 90% of my cosplay done, but would like to be anonymous under my visor. I'm assuming that for such a last minute project, any of these spray paints will do.

However, since I'm a newbie, I was hoping OP could clarify. The silver/mirrored paints are meant to be sprayed on the inside of a tail-light, so like in the description, I would have to spray the inside of my visor? And how would I apply the paint. I do not own an airbrush & it is a bit unclear if the visor would have any visibility were I to spray the inside, straight-on. It is a few light coats sprayed far away as possible, or is the mirror finish really just one-way?
 

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