Question on making canopies

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by Getter1, May 4, 2009.

  1. Getter1

    Getter1 Active Member

    Hello All,

    I am asking for advice on how to go about making a mold and making canopies from acetate. I have made the canopy with tabs outside. What is the best material to use to fill the inside out canopy with? Also I need a technique for heating the plastic and making the canopy when I get the mold made.

    This is one thing I have never been able to master (I've never made one sucessfully let alone be able to master).

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. You can easely make a mold by building the canopy inside-out. I use (2-componend) carfiller , it dries in minutes, to fill the mold, and is easy to sand.
    Then you can take stuff called 'shrinking-tube", or an old blister-wrap, preferably allready in the righy shape, like a lipstick or there are special heat-shrinking sheets available, put them around the mold and heat it with a paintstripper or hair-dryer. here are some pictures;
  3. Getter1

    Getter1 Active Member

    Thanks Billy,

    That helps a lot. By the way that was a great build :D Funky looking design but cool :)

    Now that shrink tube from the hardware store or is it a hobby store type item?

  4. Getter1

    Getter1 Active Member

    Here's the model that needs the canopy. For those who have been following my VF-1 Valkyrie thread in the cartoon and anime section you will recognize this. I'm going to be building a large series of these so making 1 mold that will get a lot of use will be handy.


    Attached Files:

  5. ltla9000311

    ltla9000311 Member

    Hey Billy, that is exactly the method I was gonna use. I learned that a few years ago while scratchbuilding my own r/c gliders. Never actually got around to using it, but have kept the info in the back of my head for future use.

    Getter, try going to Lowe's or Home Depot. If they don't have the right diameter to slide over your mold, you'll have to find an electrical supply place near you. I've seen that heat shrink tubing in 2 inch diameters a couple of times. But only at electrical supply houses.

    ARMORMAN Guest

    Mine was a bit different. I created the buck like the other did. Then I filled it with Aves Apoxiesculpt ( Once the stuff was set, I sanded the cockpit down and then mounted it to a Mentos gum container (don't ask, my wife had like 70 coupons to get one free). I then took some flat pieces of plastic I saved from blister packaging and heated it over the stove until it softened. Then I pulled the plastic over the buck. Once cooled, I cut off the extra and lightly sanded the edge.

    Attached Files:

  7. cdavenport

    cdavenport Member

    this is my thread on my FJ-1 Fury build. It contains a detailed section,with photos and material, on making canopies. This is just one way to do it... but it has the advantage of being very easy and very cheap!

    There are two major techniques for forming canopies: vacuforming and press forming. Google those topics. My preferred method is vacuforming for which I made a dedicated machine. It is easy to make if you have some basic tools and an old vacuum cleaner.

    The bottom box contains a modified suction motor, and the top contains a modified toaster oven. I made the whole shebang in couple of days and have used it for over 15 years. Great tool.

    Attached Files:

  8. Getter1

    Getter1 Active Member


    Thanks for the tips :D

    Excellent build on the Fury BTW ;)

  9. blueeyedbear

    blueeyedbear Member

    If you will dig around on the net, there are a number of good pages on vacuforming and home made devices (such as a small box and a vacuum cleaner.

    The have been several of these on the FiddlersGreen forum.
  10. blueeyedbear

    blueeyedbear Member

    I just tried googling "vacuforming". I can't believe how many links I found!

    Bob the blue eyed bear
  11. Getter1

    Getter1 Active Member

    Thanks everyone for your tips and advise :D

    I have successfully made my first canopy ever :D I filled the mold with 5 minute epoxy and let it set a couple days. I sanded it all down tonight and used plastic from a battery package this time instead of the think acetate sheet I had tried in the past. The think acetate always melted in the center but the thincker blister pak plastic held. It sagged but didn't melt so I guess my biggest problem in the past was I was using the wrong plastic :p

    I'll post pics tomorrow evening :D

    Thanks again,
  12. ltla9000311

    ltla9000311 Member

    Getter, you're not using the wrong plastic. The thin acetate your using is VERY susceptible to heat. If you aren't careful it will melt from the center out. The key is putting the acetate in a plywood frame to hold the plastic taut. heat the entire thing gently until it starts to sag in the middle. Then quickly pull it over your form. I've had a little experience with forming plastic on some R/C gliders in the past. The exact same thing you described happened to me. Over and over and over until I was completely frustrated. One key is to heat the entire sheet evenly. If you don't do this holes will form.

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