Cerakote - ceramic powder coating safe for plastics

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

15 Sep 2015, 17:02

Cerakote is a US company that specializes in ceramic powder coating products that cure at low temperatures (about 70 C) and tolerate high temperatures. The company typically markets their products as firearm coatings. The product is easy enough to apply in a garage with special equipment, and takes about four hours total to apply (surface preparation, paint application, oven curing). It is compatible with many materials including plastics and metals.

http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com

A neighbor of mine applies these coatings regularly. We chatted, I looked at the Web site, and I decided to give him a Model M keyboard as a sacrificial test. He applied the “H” product, in color code H-214Q, Smith’s Grey.

http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/fini ... iths-grey/

The neighbor had about 4oz of the product available. This was just enough to coat the outsides, but not the insides, of the keyboard shell. Next time we’ll pay more attention to cracks and gaps to do a slightly better job.

Takeaways:
1. The coating is extremely thin, so, clearances are no problem. This is much thinner than powder coating.
2. Once the curing is done, it is done. There are no VOCs, no smell.
3. Smith’s Grey is a nice, dark gray, but is not even close to RAL 7030 powder coat or an authentic Industrial M. We are still working on color matching.
4. The Cerakote product is available in a number of colors. We might try Federal Standard Grey next.
5. The product is not tacky at all once applied. Quite the opposite: it is exceptionally dry.

We are still doing some experiments to tune the colors, refine the process, and ascertain compatibility with various plastics. Model M shells are typically made of PVC so we know this works. We still need to test PBT and ABS plastics.

As stated elsewhere, sales are currently closed. We estimate that we could offer a good competitor to powder coating services for about $40 a keyboard. Or, I could perhaps offer pre painted shells, using Terminal M boards as donors, for about $75. Both M101 and M122 options would be available.

Now, for some photos. I compared the keyboard to both an authentic 1985 Industrial M, and to my 4704 terminal board powder coated in RAL 7030 gray.
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klikkyklik

15 Sep 2015, 18:04

I think that looks nice! I even like that darker grey color. That thing looks pretty mean.

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chzel

15 Sep 2015, 18:09

Looks really nice! Does it retain surface texture and imperfections? How flexible is it? I guess it's not going to crack and flake...

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hammelgammler
Vintage

15 Sep 2015, 18:20

Wow, that looks really nice! I certainly would like something like that on my SSK.
Matte black would be perfect for me though, to match the black blank Unicomp keycaps.

ghostjuggernaut

15 Sep 2015, 18:42

This looks really interesting. I'll definitely be paying attention to see where it goes.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

15 Sep 2015, 18:45

chzel wrote: Looks really nice! Does it retain surface texture and imperfections? How flexible is it? I guess it's not going to crack and flake...
Hi chzel - yes, it does retain surface texture and imperfections as some of the macro shots show. The texture you see is the underlying texture of the molded keyboard casing. The Cerakote has a matte finish.

I have no idea how flexible it is. The product adheres quite well to the tight radius bends at the corners of the case.

Maybe if I get a chance I'll try scraping away an inside area with a knife to see how durable it is on this surface. This is designed to be a permanent coating.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

15 Sep 2015, 18:46

hammelgammler wrote: Wow, that looks really nice! I certainly would like something like that on my SSK.
Matte black would be perfect for me though, to match the black blank Unicomp keycaps.
Matte black is easy enough to obtain. An SSK is a smaller and easier form of this to paint so that would be straightforward. I'm hesitating to offer anything we have not tested ourselves yet.

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snoopy

15 Sep 2015, 21:34

black ssk? I'm in :D

andrewjoy

15 Sep 2015, 21:55

I have seen this process before but never on a keyboard

I am so tempted to get the case for my space invader done.

jacobolus

15 Sep 2015, 22:37

Next try keycaps!

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

15 Sep 2015, 22:43

I'm glad this is generating so much interest.

snoopy: I'll check with my friend to see if he has matte black. This is likely a popular, easy to find color.

andrewjoy: It would be cheaper to buy another Space Invader keyboard from me, than to ship yours back to me.

jacobolus: Yes, that's the plan, as I mentioned in the GH version of this thread. I have plenty of Model M keys around. My concern is that they may not be very good for typing. The texture and feel of the keys would be changed. Also too, the legends would disappear. I think RIT dye is the best solution I've seen for the Model M's PBT caps. I've never tried it at home so I don't know what to expect.

jacobolus

15 Sep 2015, 22:52

Who needs legends?

Also, wouldn’t changing the texture and feel be the whole point?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

15 Sep 2015, 22:53

jacobolus wrote: [W]ouldn’t changing the texture and feel be the whole point?
I still see the need to call this out explicitly to set expectations. That being said, I'm interested to try this out myself.

idollar
i$

15 Sep 2015, 22:56

a very interesting post, thanks.

andrewjoy

15 Sep 2015, 23:03

XMIT wrote: andrewjoy: It would be cheaper to buy another Space Invader keyboard from me, than to ship yours back to me.
.

But i don't think you have another like mine :) And if you do that would be unfair as i dont want to hog them all , considering we have only ever seen 2 :)

spopepro

16 Sep 2015, 00:28

XMIT wrote:
chzel wrote: Looks really nice! Does it retain surface texture and imperfections? How flexible is it? I guess it's not going to crack and flake...
Hi chzel - yes, it does retain surface texture and imperfections as some of the macro shots show. The texture you see is the underlying texture of the molded keyboard casing. The Cerakote has a matte finish.

I have no idea how flexible it is. The product adheres quite well to the tight radius bends at the corners of the case.

Maybe if I get a chance I'll try scraping away an inside area with a knife to see how durable it is on this surface. This is designed to be a permanent coating.
It is highly unlikely to crack and flake within your lifetime. Motorcycle block and exhaust components are another application specified, although cerakote is "generic" for a wide variety of formulations.

You might be at scraping away at it for a while. Masking the slide interfaces on a firearm isn't needed, and people report that after thousands of rounds, little to no wear of the coating has been observed.

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chzel

16 Sep 2015, 00:49

I read a little bit and seems really promising! 1 mil thickness is crazy thin!
For the curious this is the training manual.

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

16 Sep 2015, 01:05

That looks amazing. I need this for my SSK. I would rather have that grey than the actual industrial color.

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klikkyklik

16 Sep 2015, 01:14

Yeah, XMIT's grey looks more "industrial" than the IBM industrial to me. :)

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webwit
Wild Duck

16 Sep 2015, 01:37

IBM industrial gray has just that touch olive green in it which almost makes it look militaristic. Other grays just look... gray. Actually, this one looks blueish.

andrewjoy

16 Sep 2015, 10:43

Any chance we can see it with caps on ?

I like all 3, i think the original IBM once matches the caps better but i prefer the Xmit Industrial M colour.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

16 Sep 2015, 12:38

Sure, let me see if I can throw some caps on this weekend.

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beltet

16 Sep 2015, 23:49

Looks really interesting. Does it work on all metals?

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romevi

17 Sep 2015, 00:07

Pretty unfamiliar with this, but I assumed the coating, being touted as "matte," would give it a sandy feel. Looking at the pictures, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Does the keyboard case feel somewhat similar to how it was before?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

17 Sep 2015, 04:43

No, the feel is much dryer. Sandy and slick at the same time. Hard to describe.

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Elrick

04 Oct 2015, 04:26

XMIT wrote: No, the feel is much dryer. Sandy and slick at the same time. Hard to describe.
Finally a permanent coating for our old keyboards, thanks for bringing it to our attention here.

Pity you seem to be living in the US of A otherwise I would drive down to your area and get several of my IBMs covered in this coating.

Vizir

30 Dec 2015, 19:14

any update? what about model f cases?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

30 Dec 2015, 20:42

A slight update:
Vizir wrote: any update?
I'm still working out the details for a production process that will let me do more keyboards in a more consistent amount of time. Pretty soon I'll have access to a powder coating facility that I can use which cuts out a middleman. I'm still working to vet the process. I'm scheduled to work on this more on Monday of next week.

The above board isn't quite the Industrial M color I wanted. It will take some iteration to get it just right. I have a whole pile of Model Ms here that I can use for experimentation.

Please note that I have like a million projects in flight (Wang board reverse engineering, keyboard sales, forthcoming CNC offerings, and this, plus a day job and a wife and kids) so I'm happy to get anything done at all. :roll: :oops:
Vizir wrote: what about model f cases?
I can coat just about anything.

The Cerakote is a low temperature powder coat that works on plastics and metals alike. For pure metal casings I can use a different, high temperature powder coat that is even more durable (what I did for the F107 group buy earlier).

Stay tuned! :)

Vizir

30 Dec 2015, 21:08

XMIT wrote:
Please note that I have like a million projects in flight (Wang board reverse engineering, keyboard sales, forthcoming CNC offerings, and this, plus a day job and a wife and kids) so I'm happy to get anything done at all. :roll: :oops:
i understand. this is after all a hobby, not a job :P
XMIT wrote: I can coat just about anything.

The Cerakote is a low temperature powder coat that works on plastics and metals alike. For pure metal casings I can use a different, high temperature powder coat that is even more durable (what I did for the F107 group buy earlier).

Stay tuned! :)
interesting. that coat might be useful for ellipse's f62/77 project. what is it called?

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

30 Dec 2015, 21:12

Vizir wrote: i understand. this is after all a hobby, not a job :P
Buy more keyboards - I mean, a lot more - and it can be. :lol:
Vizir wrote: interesting. that coat might be useful for ellipse's f62/77 project. what is it called?
Cerakote, H-214Q, Smith’s Grey. http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/fini ... iths-grey/

More details are in the first post of this thread.

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