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Hi all, I am lighting a Star Destroyer with fiber optic cable and I want to opaque the inside of the model plastic to prevent unwanted light transmitting through the body of the model. It will be unavoidable without painting the sides of the fiber optic cable while opaquing the inside of the model. Am I safe in using a black acrylic (such as Tamiya) without harming the fiber optic cable? I will be thinning the paint with the prescribed 2:1 paint to acrylic thinner. Love to know if anyone has had problems with that. I'm pretty sure the paint alone isn't an issue. It's just the thinner that I use with the paint to make it flow well in my airbrush that I worry about. Thinning with water doesn't work well. Thanks for any feedback.
Cheers,
Alan
 

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my experience with fibre optic cable, from when I installed it for many miles, is that each strand has a plastic protective coating on it.
if at all possible, I would suggest, testing a piece that is extra before dedicating the whole part.
 

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my experience with fibre optic cable, from when I installed it for many miles, is that each strand has a plastic protective coating on it.
if at all possible, I would suggest, testing a piece that is extra before dedicating the whole part.
That's a good suggestion. I'll try it out. Thanks!
 

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I can't imagine that any water-based hobby paint, or it's additives, could react with fiber optics filaments. They're made from organic compounds, after all. But a test can do no harm.
Thank you Mark and alpink! I did indeed do a test, with Tamiya Flat black acrylic. I actually made the mix 2:1.5 paint to thinner, just to put the fiber optic cable under slightly more duress. As it turned out, after completely drying, the cable was transmitting light equal to a cable with no paint attached to it's sides. So, the test was conclusive that acrylic paint with acrylic thinner does not affect the integrity of fiber optic cable, at least when applying acrylic paint within the guidelines of the manufacturer.
 

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All righty then! I never thought that a coat of paint would affect the transmission of light within the filaments, only the filaments themselves. A little light does escape the outsides of the filaments, though, so by coating the filaments with white paint before the black, you could reflect that escaping light back into the filaments. It would be interesting to see whether or not a white outer coat noticeably increased the output of light from the fiber optic filaments. My own preference is to thin the plastic of a spaceship hull from within a model and then throw as much light as I can inside. By masking the windows and painting the hull opaquely, I can get precisely arranged windows with relatively little work. "Cause I'm getting lazy in my old age. 👴
 

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On my NX-01 refit I sprayed black and grey enamels on the exterior of the hull with short fiber optic strands sticking out of the round window ports prior to trimming. I did not notice any degradation of the plastic fiber during this process.
 

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It would still probably be a good ideal if you tested a spare piece of your fiber optic line and paint/thinner mixture you are planning to use @Richard Baker

The last time I painted over fiber optics was back in the late '90s....
 

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Richard Baker said:
Anybody know if enamel paint might work, I don't use model acrylics
R.B.,
Fiber optic filaments are made of pretty tuff stuff; some of them from glass. I don't think any of the materials would react with hobby paints the way a plastic like acetate would. But as our Super Moderator has suggested, you can't go wrong by make a quick test, just to be sure.
 

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Paint the cable with silver instead of white before you add the black over it to kill outward light dissipation. Silver will reflect more than white if it's right. Why instrument gauge cluster packages and brake light assemblies on cars always paint the insides silver or vacuum chrome them. The brightest most reflective you can find, I use imitation chrome spray for best effect. Gloss instead of flat too. If the silver is dull, white is better, but if really bright the silver then reflects more. I've restored instrument packages and taillight assemblies using it before, the silver puts out more light if it's bright. The same applies to headlight assemblies which I have done the same with.

They usually cast the light backing parts in white because silver casted plastic does not reflect well, but if they choose to add cost for more light they then vacuum chrome plate the inside of a light fixture to bright up reflectivity.
 
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