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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone here know a good source for powdered aluminum? I've been having some trouble with getting an even finish using the AutoAir/Valspar Black Widow mix, and am wondering if I might be able to switch to a balanced grey and add my own aluminum.
 

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Does anyone here know a good source for powdered aluminum? I've been having some trouble with getting an even finish using the AutoAir/Valspar Black Widow mix, and am wondering if I might be able to switch to a balanced grey and add my own aluminum.
Exactly what sort of problems are you having?

To answer your question, we HIGHLY recommend that no one tries to make their own mix using powdered aluminum. Only use a water-based aluminum paint (assuming your base paint is water-based). Even large paint companies don't make their aluminum paints using powdered aluminum, they use aluminum paste (which is very hard to buy unless you want 55 gallons of it).

The reason is that finely ground aluminum is very reactive with water and water-based products. If the wrong type of aluminum powder is added to such a violent and very hot reaction will take place that will almost certainly start a fire - a very large and hot fire. Don't take my word for it, research it for yourself on the net and you will see what I mean. Before aluminum powder can be added to water-based liquids or emulsions it must first be "passivated" by a chemical process to help prevent the exothermic reaction.

To make matters even worse, these reactions may not be immediate when the aluminum is added, but can take hours, days or even weeks before it happens. I've seen this first-hand; luckily no one was harmed and very little property was damaged.

If you do try to make your own mix similar to BW™ by adding aluminum paint to a neutral gray paint the result will probably NOT be a neutral gray. That is the reason the base paint of BW™ is a pinkish beige color. :nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Exactly what sort of problems are you having?

To answer your question, we HIGHLY recommend that no one tries to make their own mix using powdered aluminum. Only use a water-based aluminum paint (assuming your base paint is water-based). Even large paint companies don't make their aluminum paints using powdered aluminum, they use aluminum paste (which is very hard to buy unless you want 55 gallons of it).
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If you do try to make your own mix similar to BW™ by adding aluminum paint to a neutral gray paint the result will probably NOT be a neutral gray. That is the reason the base paint of BW™ is a pinkish beige color. :nerd:
I'm not quite so sure that it's as difficult as you suggest. From what I understand, aircraift paint often contains a great deal of aluminum. You can pick up a tin of it here:
http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cspages/alumpaste.php

I'm interested in how the aluminum affects the color balance. Does it not evenly reflect all spectra of light? And if it doesn't, isn't it just an issue of finding a slightly different pinkish-beige?
 

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I'm not quite so sure that it's as difficult as you suggest. From what I understand, aircraift paint often contains a great deal of aluminum. You can pick up a tin of it here:
http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cspages/alumpaste.php
We found that source as well, but if you will look closer at the description that Al paste is flammable which means it is for making solvent-based paints only. It won't work for making, or mixing with, water-based paints such as latex or acrylic paints.

Also, that Al paste is meant to mix with clear dope (very much akin to solvent-based lacquer). More info on that here. http://www.aviation-safety-bureau.com/aircraft-fabric-covering2.html

I'm interested in how the aluminum affects the color balance. Does it not evenly reflect all spectra of light? And if it doesn't, isn't it just an issue of finding a slightly different pinkish-beige?
The aluminum paints we have tested so far have all been fairly color-neutral by themselves, but when added to latex or acrylic paints have caused the mix to push blue - we don't know why - but it is relatively easy to color-correct the mix to bring it back to being color-neutral by tinting the base paint to compensate. I should say it is relatively easy to do if you understand color theory.

We don't mean to stifle anyone's creative impulses; only to warn that working with aluminum powder can be dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We found that source as well, but if you will look closer at the description that Al paste is flammable which means it is for making solvent-based paints only. It won't work for making, or mixing with, water-based paints such as latex or acrylic paints.
I figured as much. I'm not too familiar with airplane paint, but it seems like it would be a fantastic alternative - durable, waterproof, and sprayable. Shame about the toxic fumes, though.
 
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