Saturday, 16 February 2008

Back to square one

I moved on from J-B Weld as a means of making a heater because it does not handle the high temperatures I have been using for HDPE. I completely failed with Thermosteel so I decided to have another go with BBQ paint. It seems that I must have the wrong sort of paint because despite helpful advice from Vik Olliver and Forrest Higgs, after a week of trying I can not get it to work.

After many attempts the final method I used was to put down three coats of paint using a paint brush in my lathe. Each layer has to be allowed to dry for many hours and then baked with a heat gun. If I apply heat too soon then it blisters. If I don't apply heat then the next coat simply dissolves the coat underneath. The paint has a lot of very volatile solvent in it.

Once I had three coats, I baked it in the oven on full blast (gas mark 9+) to make it hard enough to take the wire. I anchored one end of the wire with a nut that has a small hole drilled through it and attached a weight to the other end to keep it taught while winding.

To keep the wire in place while I painted over it I tied it to a piece of copper wire wrapped round the back of the chuck. To keep the tension in the right direction I used a piece of PTFE left over from a previous experiment to support it. It was an ideal shape and could stand the heat from the heat gun.

The picture above is after one coat of paint. When the paint was applied it was thick enough to completely cover the wire but when it dries it is very thin. I put five more coats on and baked it in the oven. I was somewhat disappointed when it came out like this :-

The paint resembles soot and has no strength to it at all. I can scrape it away with my finger, like I could with the Thermosteel.

Time to step back from this and think again. It is crazy trying to use high temperature paint as a high temperature adhesive. Some makes of paint may work, but you can't complain when other makes don't. I think it makes a lot more sense to use something designed to do the job such as Cerastil H-115. I will order some on Monday. In the meantime I will go back to J-B Weld because it is easy to use and will last for months if I keep the temperature down.


  1. That stinks. What ever happened to using cement as a jacketing/thermal insulating material for the heater?

    Ie BBQ paint between the barrel and the nichrome, and a concrete (actually vik's plaster of paris/fibreglass) jacket.

  2. I think the concrete was a high temp replacement for the PTFE insulator rather than a jacket for the heater.

    I have ordered the Cerastil which is actually designed for exactly this job so it should work well.

    In the meantime I have made a heater with J-B Weld again.

  3. Cerastil looks like the perfect fit.

    Concrete was used in place of PTFE barrel (Still seems to be a good future path as it could be reprapped where the ptfe barrel would not be). Plaster and fibreglass was used to insulate the heater barrel as seen in this post: