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  • The Clear Lens Forming Thread

    this is the thread to show you how to go from this:

    to this:




    The tools needed to make the lenses:
    A plastic "holding frame" that will fit in your home oven, 1/10" acrylic sheets cut to the size of your holding frame, a male plug mold made using your oem headlamp lenses, and an mdf femal "ring" are all you will need to make your lenses. The female "ring" is cut using a jigsaw and made to fit around the base of the male plug mold giving a 1/4" gap between the two.


    Below I will explain how to create the "plug mold" from your original lenses and then the process of how to make the new clear lenses.

    The first step you will need to do is remove the original headlamp lenses from your housings. Most headlamps use a heat activated sealant and can be heated then pryed off gently. I'm using a 95-96 240sx plastic lens as the example here. If your headlamps are glass, be warned, using the following mold making method will probably crack them as the concrete sets. Here is the back of the lens after it has been removed.




    Take the lens outside, and spray it generously with nonstick spray or rub the entire inside with grease, liberally but evenly. Set the lens on the ground in a shady area with the front side facing down. Support it so the back of the lens is level. Mix up a half gallon or so of fine concrete and pour it into the back of the lens so it's full to the brim. Gently stir or shake the wet concrete so air bubbles escape. Wait a few days for the concrete to set up. After a few days, flip the lens over and gently tap it to release the concrete plug. It will look something like this (note: there will be fluting lines).



    Apply body filler to the front of the concrete plug then sand smooth using a sanding block. I would go to 400grit fine sandpaper. After that's done, make your female ring mold and plastic holding frame.


    Now that your male plug molds are finished, it's time to make the lenses!


    First, you will need to set your concrete mold on a stable elevated surface off of your kitchen floor, or work area next to your oven. I like to use a stack of a few books, and place the scrap piece from the center of the MDF ring mold underneath the concrete mold.



    Next, you will need to take a sheet of your acyrilic, remove the protective film and secure it in your holding frame.



    After that, put the holding frame with the plastic sheet in the oven. You want nothing else in the oven (no racks etc.) since the plastic sheet will droop as it gets hot. The following is sort of a trial and error because different ovens heat differently and different plastics will require different temperatures. A ballpark of 320-350 degrees is where you want it to be to soften the plastic; however. It will take up to 10 minutes to heat the plastic, and you will know when it's ready to pull out because it's started to droop 1-2". Be careful not to leave it in the oven too long because the plastic will get to hot and start to bubble and melt. Pull out the frame and quickly set it over your elevated mold and press the frame down past the mold- the plastic will stretch a lot. (*note, since this process has to be done very quickly the holding frame in the photo below does not have plastic in it- just pretend it does).



    Now, you need to quickly grab the female mdf ring and press it really hard over and around the hot plastic and the mold. You will hear it stretching as you press down. Press it down past the mold so the newly formed lens will be deep enough (deeper is further because you can always trim it down to fit).



    Let the plastic cool for a few minutes in the holding frame on top of the mold. Remove the mdf female piece.



    Carefully pull the plastic/holding frame off of the mold. Use a heat gun to slightly heat up the corners if it's binding, but usually you can just tap it out by gently tapping on the front of the newly formed lens.



    Take your lenses outside, and using your original oem lenses as a guide trim off the excess material using a cutting wheel.





    Clean up the edges, and paint the sides of the lens black or silver if you like. ensure a proper fit onto the oem housings, and very carefully use a heat gun to make adjustments as needed (usually in the corners).










    I use 100% silicone to seal the lens to the housing, either clear or black. run a bead around the housing then place the lens onto the housing and slightly press it into the chanel if it will go. Tape the lenses in place with masking tape and allow them to cure for 24+ hrs.
    Last edited by greenkouki; June 2nd, 2012, 06:44 PM.

    *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*




  • #2
    the .93 acrylic/plexi will not pull down far enough with a shop vac. i would invest some money and do as NEON_2NR has said. but if you have the vac there already, might as well test it out and get a feel for the time/heat for the acrylic, and give it a shot after you have made your two frames for it. the shop vac will pull it down, but not quite as far as the stock lens edges are with out getting heat bubbles in the acrylic from too much heat.

    good luck, and make sure to have fun!

    -Want to form plastic at home?- / -Want to contact me?-

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    • #3
      the below is a great site for makin different types of vacuum presses.
      http://www.joewoodworker.com/veneering/welcome.htm

      theres the method of using refrig. compressor, like the dude (^^^) mentioned that might be much cheaper.

      researched about it several years back about doin carbon fiber but too much work.

      MORE POWER TO YALL FELLAS. im sure there are quite a few talented ppl on this board to come w/ unique ways of retrofitting.
      meeeooow

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Izn Trbl
        the .93 acrylic/plexi will not pull down far enough with a shop vac. i would invest some money and do as NEON_2NR has said. but if you have the vac there already, might as well test it out and get a feel for the time/heat for the acrylic, and give it a shot after you have made your two frames for it. the shop vac will pull it down, but not quite as far as the stock lens edges are with out getting heat bubbles in the acrylic from too much heat.

        good luck, and make sure to have fun!
        thank's for the tip, i'm okay with bubbles on the sides of the lense, just not on the very front. maybe i can just push down with my fingers to get the shape a little better. I'll let you guys know how it goes

        *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by greenkouki
          Originally posted by Izn Trbl
          the .93 acrylic/plexi will not pull down far enough with a shop vac. i would invest some money and do as NEON_2NR has said. but if you have the vac there already, might as well test it out and get a feel for the time/heat for the acrylic, and give it a shot after you have made your two frames for it. the shop vac will pull it down, but not quite as far as the stock lens edges are with out getting heat bubbles in the acrylic from too much heat.

          good luck, and make sure to have fun!
          thank's for the tip, i'm okay with bubbles on the sides of the lense, just not on the very front. maybe i can just push down with my fingers to get the shape a little better. I'll let you guys know how it goes
          no prob bud. rather than using your hands, perhaps using "L" brackets. they are metal, and easy to grip. you can wrap one end of the bracket with tape to help keep a hold of it. the other end will pres the acrylic in/down while it is still ply-able. also use leather gloves rather than rubber gloves due to the rubber absorbs the heat much faster, keeps it in and will burn your hands, where you have a bit more time to work with the leather gloves before they start to burn your hands LOL. where ever you touch the acrylic while ply-able will make a print. so make sure that you only touch where you will be cutting off, or wont be able to see after your object is cut out.

          good luck buddy!

          -Want to form plastic at home?- / -Want to contact me?-

          Comment


          • #6
            the holding frame is giving me trouble, it might be a couple more days before i get the right materials to finish it up ](*,)

            *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



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            • #7
              in order to use the frame over and over, i would suggest using a dense wood such as birch. pine will work good for a while, but will start to char and get weak after continuous usage.

              good luck bud!

              -Want to form plastic at home?- / -Want to contact me?-

              Comment


              • #8
                i might just spring for some aluminum

                *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



                Comment


                • #9
                  if you are referring to the frame to hold the acrylic sheets, you will not want to use aluminum. that will get VERY hot, and also make it harder to keep a good seal between the acrylic and the frames from air leaking while the vac is on. you can use aluminum if you'd like, but i wouldn't myself.

                  -Want to form plastic at home?- / -Want to contact me?-

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                  • #10
                    maybe i can sandwich some plywood between the fram and the acrylic then

                    *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



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                    • #11
                      Are you using foam blocks as the mold?

                      Or is that actually clay?
                      91 240sx FB

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                      • #12
                        it's plaster of paris

                        *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by greenkouki
                          it's plaster of paris
                          Doesn't look very much like Paris Hilton :-k







                          j/k hahahaha

                          Keep up the good work man.
                          91 240sx FB

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                          • #14
                            yeah it's made out of that stuff she throws/coughs up after a hard night of partying

                            *I will be unavailable for projector modding and retrofits until further notice*



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                            • #15
                              Classy (paris comment) :vom:

                              You should also have a look at a two stage system - using a shop vac for your primary, and an old frige compressor for your secondary with a resovoir and dump valve to get a good tight profile.

                              Cheers
                              Heath Young

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