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Apr 21, 2017, 01:21 AM
Mark
mewert's Avatar
Thread OP
Discussion

Micafilm


I have a bit of Micafilm and have never worked with it. I have a couple small models to finish and was wondering how does it rate in with Doculam, Polyspan, Koverall and the rest of the coverings? Have heard it is very durable. Is it easy to use?
Thanks
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Apr 21, 2017, 02:02 PM
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Captain Dunsel's Avatar
Micafilm is the same as Fibafilm, made by the Solarfilm folks. It shrinks up nicely and looks a lot like doped tissue (but is much stronger).

I've used it for many years, and have mixed Fibafilm and Micafilm on the same model, without being able to tell the difference (even with the same colors).

There is no glue on the back of the film; you need to either apply a glue to the film OR to the airframe (my preference, to save weight). Balsaloc and Balsarite are the commonly sold glues. Balsaloc is apparently a thinned down white glue (PVA??), whilst Balsarite is a lacquer-like, thicker glue (smells like and can be thinned with dope or lacquer thinners). I have also used Mod Podge (craft store or Wal Mart craft section decoupage glue) as a substitute for Balsaloc.

My observations on the two adhesives: Balsarite has a gentler 'curve' between sticking and loosening heats, whilst Balsaloc (and Mod Podge) go from 'no stick' to 'stick' very quickly.

Balsarite has a strong odor, is VERY flammable, but is fuel proof. Balsaloc/Mod Podge is water-based, lacking much odor, but isn't fuel proof. So, if you're building a Glow model and use one of the water-based adhesives, plan on fuel proofing the seams!

For an Old-Timer, Micafilm/Fibafilm works great and is especially pretty in the sunlight!

CD
Apr 21, 2017, 02:44 PM
ffkiwi
I'd echo CD's points above....BUT!!....you specifically mentioned small models-without indicating the size or type-I would not consider Micafilm a suitable covering material for models under say 40" span-it is reasonably heavy stuff (for film) when compared with tissue or tissue alternatives-and it doesn't have a lot of shrink. On the plus side-it is one of the toughest iron on coverings out there!...and adds a lot of stiffness to open frame structures. Certainly I would have no hesitation recommending it for a medium and up size of vintage model-but not for something like a small rubber model. That being said-I have a Warring High Cabin 30" span power model covered with it...but largely because I was overseas at the time and had limited access to materials. It is also 'shiny'.....so may not appeal to your aesthetic preferences when used on an Old Timer.....and opaque-there are no transparent versions of Micafilm-the so called 'clear' [which is extraordinarily hard to find-as FFers like me have purloined most of it for F1A glider and F1B rubber class model covering] is sort of a semi-translucent 'off white'.-and no longer manufactured. The colour range likewise is fairly limited compared to other iron ons: white, red, blue, yellow orange and aluminium

See the manufacturer's website: http://www.solarfilm.co.uk/default.aspx [look under the 'Fibafilm' entry in the menu] If you ARE looking specifically for covering for small light models then considerthe same manufacturers range of 'litespan' and 'airspan'-which are sold in the US-but probably under different names-'Microlite' being one that springs to mind [which AFAIK is 'Litespan' rebranded]

ChrisM
'ffkiwi'
Apr 21, 2017, 03:37 PM
Registered User
CD,

Thanks for making the connection between (Coverite's) Micafilm and Solarfilm's Fibafilm; I had forgotten that.

Mewert, here's link with Solarfilm's website, that has detailed instructions on how to use the covering: www.solarfilm.co.uk/


I find this film has giving a lot of torsional strength to open frameworks, such as glider wings, similar to the old Monokote but at probably have the weight; doesn't require any further finishing as it is fuelproof and can be easily cleaned; I have a couple of twenty/twenty five year old models covered with it and the covering doesn't get brittle or sag.

The Coverite stuff came in primer (which you could paint), opaque and translucent..... the neatest was the ultra lightweight translucent (metallic?) white - great on glider wings with the sun shining thru the material.

If you didn't want to use it I wouldn't be surprised if you got up to $15 to $20 a roll (the small, 65" roll) online, especially for the translucent white.

good luck,

Michael in Ontario, Canada
Last edited by 2michaely; May 16, 2019 at 11:57 AM.
Apr 21, 2017, 04:26 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
I don't know about the current or recent Micafilm but the old stuff from around 25 years ago works fine on larger models. Shortly after I stocked up on a few colors they produced the sort which was less like clear doped tissue and more like lightly fog painted stuff using clear with white fibers in it as a base. Terrible looking stuff..

That was then and this is now though. I'm not familiar with the current offering. So some of your option will depend on what sort and age you have.
Apr 21, 2017, 09:02 PM
Mark
mewert's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks guys. The model I was concerned with is a 42" WS Shulman Wedgy. Looks like it might be a tad fragile for a covering that might have too much shrinkage to tighten up and warp the framework. If the Micafilm is not the proper covering, I can get some other.
Thoughts?
Apr 21, 2017, 11:09 PM
ffkiwi
Quote:
Originally Posted by mewert
Thanks guys. The model I was concerned with is a 42" WS Shulman Wedgy. Looks like it might be a tad fragile for a covering that might have too much shrinkage to tighten up and warp the framework. If the Micafilm is not the proper covering, I can get some other.
Thoughts?
No something that size would be OK-I think you may have misread some of our replies though-Micafilm has generally LESS shrink than most other iron on coverings, not more. [not really surprising since it has fibre reinforcement] This does make it somewhat problematic around compound curves etc-but not impossible. You might recall US magazine adverts in the 80s for some iron on coverings where they covered a half tennis ball and left a frill round it-calling it 'Miss Sunbonnet' ...mainly to demonstrate what great shrinkage their product had.....well there's no way that Micafilm would ever cope with that sort of curvature! I certainly find it useful on vintage fuselages....! Mainly for a combination of strength and durability-and as I use mainly diesels in vintage-it seems largely immune to the effects of diesel fuel/diesel exhaust-which many iron-on plastics are not!

ChrisM
'ffkiwi'
Apr 22, 2017, 06:30 AM
Registered User
rchopper56's Avatar
BP Hobbies has a nice selection of coverings and lists their weight per yard. https://www.bphobbies.com/view.asp?id=V819427

Gene
Apr 22, 2017, 06:55 AM
Registered User
Captain Dunsel's Avatar
And I get to echo ffkiwi's comments on the stretchability of Micafilm . Yes, it's a lot harder to get it around a rounded wingtip! Plus, as you stretch and heat it, you wind up pulling the fabric away from the glue, so you have to stop, add more glue, let it dry, then resume.

The colors are limited, but they are gorgeous on old-timers and thermal gliders!

I believe the disconnect in the US came when Great Planes (i.e., Tower) bought out Coverite. Coverite had been the primary importer of Micafilm, plus some other nice films and Coverite fabrics (the heaviest grade being suspiciously like Ceconite full-scale aircraft covering). Tower promptly dropped most of the product line, in favor of their own covering , Super Monokote (which they'd acquired when they assimilated Top Flite).

CD
Apr 22, 2017, 08:34 AM
Registered User
Ditto what BMatthews, Gene, CD and Chris have said; it's not a super shrink covering..... as in most other film coverings, use an iron to tighten up the covering in wing bays, etc., and STOP shrinking when the covering is snug. The Solarfilm/Coverite instructions are good in this area.

I looked up Leon Shulman's Wedgy online and believe that Micafilm would be a very good covering for this model...... it would add torsional strength to the wing (which has no balsa sheeting) and all that open fuselage area would benefit from Micafilm's exceptional resistance to punctures from finger pokes, etc.

I've used Micafilm on an undercambered airfoil and it worked fine.

good luck.

Michael in Ontario, Canada
Apr 22, 2017, 08:40 AM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
With the old style, the only one I'm familiar with, I also went for a decently snug finish with little to no wrinkles before the final shrink.

With compound curves the only way I found to get a nice wrinkle free job was more heat and pull all at the same time to heat-stretch the film around the compound curves. Otherwise it's terrible and loose. Not really harder to do, just different. So turn up the heat on the iron and let it slide on the Balsarite underneath as you pull and heat form it over the compound curves.
Apr 22, 2017, 09:24 AM
Registered User
Reginald's Avatar
Here some pictures of working with Micafilm. I use Balsarite and instead of brushing on the frame I roll it on the entire sheet I am going to use... this may be a tad heavier but makes the material even more see-trough. I also do brush Balsarite on the folded-around film of the underside. I also use Balsarite for adhesion of the red decoration and do apply the glue before cutting the pattern. Also some pics of both my older Comet Clipper and the more recent Flying Quaker. The tempearture of your iron must be correct in fact I use two at the same time with each a different temperature setting. There's no need for some protection of the Micafilm just leave as is. What I also do is use pink Zap on the overlap lines of the film with a well drenched cotton ear cleaner. This Micafilm is a wonderfull material alas no longer made... I also do have similar material like Graupner Ecofilm which is fantastic material but that stuff is not so see-trough and again no longer available. Hope this information helps a bit... Last pic is this Graupner Ecospan on my sort-off peanut Bébé Jodel.
Apr 22, 2017, 10:43 AM
Registered User
JackHiner's Avatar

Micafilm


I had 4 models with MICAFILM built from 1995 to 1997 using BALSARITE. All SAM old time models. 3 given away or sold. The 4th a Baby Playboy flown until a fly away a couple years back. Only red and clear used on these models. Held up well with many flights on the Baby Playboy both diesel and electric power. In the early years I remember bending over with a big screw drive in my pocket. It fell on the wing just making a dent with the blade. An iron took out the dent. But after about15 or more years the top of the clear on the wing became brittle and my fingers would poke thru the clear on the wing. Maybe UV with many hours in the sun. Probably not a problem with the red or clear painted. Jaack
Apr 24, 2017, 07:12 PM
Registered User
John O'Sullivan's Avatar
MicaFilm is alas a thing of the past.
It was a very thin plastic film bonded to a fibrous material . The film produced a non permeable membrane while the fibrous material resulted in a torsionally rigid base and puncture resistant material.
It was marketed by Coverite and it ranged from "Transparent" to a limited range of coloured films. The Transparent was really an off white, looking somewhat similar to white silkspan. This weighed about .75 oz/sq yd to 1.35 oz/ sq yd for the coloured versions.
About 1995 or '96 the formulation was changed, with a different plastic and a more linear fibrous backing. This was not as versatile as the "Old Micafilm". Around this time also there appeared a covering from UK Solarfilm called "Fibafilm". This appeared to be identical to the "New Micafilm". The Old Transparent Micafilm disappeared from the scene totally.

I used Micafilm from 14" indoor rubber models to my 4 metre Super Spinifex (Photo circa 1987) and it was my favorite covering of all time.
I still have a roll or two of Transparent Mica and a few rolls of coloured stuff, but they are reserved for special projects.
People either loved Micafilm or hated it. It was more difficult to work around compound curves and was more or less wasted on sheet balsa structures.

My model sailboat friends used Micafilm extensively on racing 1 metre sailboats for decking and sails.
Apr 24, 2017, 09:36 PM
Registered User
fiery's Avatar

Fibafilm


Is Fibafilm still available?

If so, how is it different from Litespan?
Apr 25, 2017, 04:29 AM
Registered User
rchopper56's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fiery
Is Fibafilm still available?

If so, how is it different from Litespan?
See post #8.
BP Hobbies has both and their descriptions will answer your questions.
Apr 25, 2017, 07:42 AM
Registered User
Captain Dunsel's Avatar
Fiery, Litespan (alias Coverlite and Aerospan) is polyester tissue paper. Fibafilm (Micafilm) is a plastic film with fibers (polyester?). Micafilm is glossy and very strong. Litespan is neither.

Both require a separate glue (i.e., Balsaloc or Balsarite -- note that Mod Podge is a very good substitute for Balsaloc).

You can trim Fibafilm by ironing on other films. For Litespan, I like to add trim by doping on trim cut from craft-store tissue paper (make sure the paper will take dope; it beads up on some of the more expensive stuff). Use a glue stick to tack the trim in place, then give it a coat of 50/50 dope. Let the dope dry, then spray the trim with rubbing alcohol (to shrink the tissue and smooth it out). When dry, finish with another coat of dope.

Caveats:
1. White tissue turns transparent when doped, so I use white Litespan for white markings.
2. Dope attacks laser print, so if you print markings on white tissue, use a water-based 'dope' (I use Minwax Polycrylic) to adhere any markings printed on white tissue. It makes the white essentially vanish, leaving you with just the markings showing.

The Pt-19 shown below was covered with Litespan. All the red, dark blue, and black trim is tissue paper doped onto the Litespan.
Last edited by Captain Dunsel; Apr 25, 2017 at 08:29 AM.
Apr 25, 2017, 12:00 PM
Registered User
fiery's Avatar
Thanks Captain.


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