Help with "litho plate" - RC Groups
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Nov 27, 2005, 12:09 PM
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Help with "litho plate"

I understand that there is something called litho plate that can be used to simulate aluminum on a model. I'm not familiar with the material but I understand that it is used in the printing process. Is there anyone out there who could help me with a few questions?

What is it? Thickness? weight? Maleability? What size sheets are available?

What is the usual method of attaching it to a model?

Where do you get it?

Thanks, John
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Nov 27, 2005, 01:50 PM
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I've used two different thicknesses of plate and both have different properties. It is basically thin aluminium sheet and can often be obtained for little or nothing from friendly printers. The thinner one is most easily obtained, large, magazine style printers being needed to locate the thicker stuff.
The thin stuff, thin card thickness, is the harder of the two. It comes in A4 sheets as far as I'm aware, doesn't take 'engine turned' effects very well and tends to be too brittle to form louvres easily.
The thicker material, probably around 1/40" thick is much better. It's softer, forms louvres well and takes engine turning easily. Sheets I've seen have been around A3 or A2 size - two magazine pages to a sheet. Weight isn't a major problem because I successfully used this thicker plate on a 45" span, geared 400 powered model - the Chiribiri N5, the very first design I had published. The entire nose was covered with lith plate.
For shaped items, the thicker plate is the one you need because it can be beaten into shape over a hardwood former.

Second hand plate will have one useable side and one side that has already been used in the printing process. I usually glue my panels in place. See my Eastbourne Monoplane thread for an alternative source of aluminium panel material and details of how I 'engine turned' it.

Nov 27, 2005, 02:32 PM
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Kiwi's Avatar
Lithoplate is used by printers as a sort of "negative" for printing on off-set printing machines, it is a one use only item and is therefore readily available, a good place to try is try the smaller printing firms, that way you don't have to deal with layers of management. You can probably score some in exchange for a pack of chocolate biscuits for their morning coffee break!
Nov 27, 2005, 02:39 PM
I used to be all thumbs...
NumbSkull's Avatar
You might try newspapers too. I think they are a thicker plate, but come a broadsheet size. Very large, and easy to bend and shape. Might be a bit heaver though. I was a production manager for the local paper a few years ago and we piled them into a box for recycling, but never had a problem giving them away when someone wanted a few (or several). I don't remember the thickness of them. Like said above, you could probably score some for a box of doughnuts or the likes. Go by at night and look for the printers on a smoke break. Don't mess with the office. Newspapers are bad about trying to capitalize on everything, but the pressmen will probably have a whole stack from that night that they would let you have.
Nov 27, 2005, 06:42 PM
Turrets Syndrome?
Bomberguy's Avatar
There is some good info on Litho Plate at this site, including how to anneal, form and bond it.
Nov 27, 2005, 07:04 PM
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SKY KING's Avatar
Does anyone know if litho plate can be turned to form cowlings?? I saw an interesting piece on the Discovery Channel about turning/forming flat sheet aluminum with a lathe and essentially a "prybar" - amazingly fast process in the hands of a master.
Nov 27, 2005, 08:02 PM
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Kiwi's Avatar
You might be able to turn after it was annealed. I don't know the composition of lithoplate but wouls suspect it would have to be annealed reguarly through the turning process (assuming it could be turnrd) best bet would be some 6061-0 or some commercial pure aluminium fully soft sheet.
Nov 27, 2005, 08:48 PM
Registered User
I have a couple of questions that I hope are not too dumb. I am facinated by the look achived with the litho plate. Why not use off the shelf aluminum foil? Too thin to work with? And secondly, does the conductive skin affect the radio reception of an R/C plane?
Nov 27, 2005, 09:55 PM
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portablevcb's Avatar
Al foil is basically too thin. It can be used, but, it wrinkles too easily and they are a bear to work out without tearing.

The Al tape that Rittinger uses is fairly easy to work with, but, still has to be handled carefully to keep from tearing.

Litho plate is as described above and is more like working regular metal, as long as it is annealed properly during the process. Don't know if it could be 'turned' or not. It probably could, in the thicker size, if annealed properly. Not sure the thinner type would work or not without thinning too much.

No matter which you use, it takes some practice to get used to it. The good thing is both litho plate and Al tape are inexpensive/free so the only thing you waste is your time.

Nov 27, 2005, 10:13 PM
Gravity sucks.
mrittinger's Avatar
I do not have issues with radio range with BL motors with full antenna's, but I did have issues with a large brushed Magnetic Mayhem motor, and with a short E Cubed RC "Combat" type antenna.
It WILL contain any RF inside of a fuselage, and can cause problems. Some can be corrected with the use of an RF ring on the ESC lead.

Nov 28, 2005, 10:27 AM
Need 4 Speed!
pdawg's Avatar
I experienced interference with models covered in aluminum. These models now have their antennas descretely located on the outside of the fuselage. This has eliminated all the range problems.
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