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Jun 10, 2019, 10:45 PM
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Fluffy Heat Treatment

I've finally gotten around to testing Fluffy foil with a heat gun to get a better understanding to how it handles heat with the goal of smoothing wrinkles.

From what I can see, the foil does not "shrink" with heat. Nor does it expand. But it does soften up, allowing air pressure to stretch it. The results can be quit amazing, with caveats. Caveat 1: If you over heat it, the foil will soften up too much and cause a blow out. That's a really bad end to your day. Caveat 2: After you've used heat to relax wrinkles, the foil tends to take on the shape of the envelope "at that pressure". It's like the foil loses some of it's elasticity. When the pressure is reduced, the envelope returns to wrinkles again, but in kind of weird and non-symetrical ways that remind me of a bad face lift. So while it looks beautiful at pressure, it looks maybe worse at lower pressure. There's a fine line between "better" and "too much". I'm sure the same could be said about plastic surgery.

See for yourself. This is an envelope I was experimenting with using different coloured foil to achieve an eye pattern. Thanks to my sloppy seams and a judgemental camera (the camera can be a real jerk highlighting all the flaws on macro settings) it clearly didn't turn out quite like I hoped. I never could get this enveloped sealed completely and I couldn't find the source of the leaks so I was prepared to write it off. Perfect opportunity to hit it with a heat gun and see what happens.

I used a garden variety paint stripping heat gun on the lowest settings, moving constantly and evenly along both the open foil areas and the seams. The seams never opened up (whew!) and appear to be able to take more heat than the open areas. You can see the wrinkles around the "eyes" virtually disappear. This was an ugly looking envelope when I started, but after heat treatment, it turned out quite respectable. In fact I was beginning to think this envelope might be worth saving after all. That is until I accidentally left the heat in one spot too long and the foil bubbled out. There's no coming back from that now.

I'll follow this up with a new blimp build later, but for now I'm going to say that careful use of a heat gun can go a long way to cleaning up a wrinkly envelope. Also, I clearly need to keep working on the quality of my seams
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Jun 11, 2019, 12:08 AM
Melbourne, Australia
That is phenomenal!

Did it appear to have any effect on gas leakage rates?

But I am definitely going to have to try this! (I was bending perspex with a heat gun for a cat barrier last weekend, so I am definitely now an expert in heat guns... :-) )

- Chris
Jun 11, 2019, 12:48 AM
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Since this envelope had a leak in it somewhere already, I can't say if it had any effect on gas leakage. But I've used the technique on another blimp I'll be posting shortly. FAIK, there's been no change in leakage rates.

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