Where can one buy tinted acrylic?

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Where can one buy tinted acrylic?

Postby Len » March 19th, 2004, 12:19 am

Where can I buy slightly tinted acrylic, or is there translucent paint I can use? I am looking for a piece of acrylic with a very mild blue tint.
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Postby Podman » March 19th, 2004, 12:38 am

i remember in middle school shop class we used a dye and then glued sheets together.
i'm just kinda strollin' down memory lane here... i have no real acrylic knowledge :)
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Postby hdtran » March 19th, 2004, 1:12 am

Try Regal Plastics (www.regalplastics.com), in the Plexiglas brand.
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Postby tangir1 » March 19th, 2004, 1:54 am

Go to sign shop. Two of my local ones (Orange County) has tinted acrylic in 200+ different colors. So check your yellow page.

What do you want to do with it?
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Postby Len » March 19th, 2004, 12:19 pm

It's a planned big project I am considering. My parents want me to design and set up a large reef tank at their house. Their specificed location for this tank is in a tricky location, and it will essentially be an outdoor tank with a in-wall view. So I've been thinking about using sunlight as the primary light, supplmented by some 20K halides. I would like to filter out some of the upper frequencies of sunlight, and that's why I'm asking about blue tinted acrylic (or glass).

Hopefully the project is a go; I haven't had the joy of designing and putting together a tank in a long time and I miss it. If it does happen, I've got tons more questions for ya :) I've never done a tank of this size (over 300g) or one that is outdoors (will be sheltered from rain and such, but it's still essentially outdoors).
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Postby tangir1 » March 19th, 2004, 12:48 pm

What city is your parent at, if you don't mind me asking...

That's what I figure you are up to when I saw your question.

Depends on their budget, there are a lot of possibility. The problem with tinted acrylic is that the transmission is going to be a bit disappointing due to the type of dye they use on the plastic. Maybe James can comment on this, but that's what I gather last time when I look into the issue. Remember, the material is designed for making business sign, not a color filter. But oftentime, you maybe able to get away with a compromise of some sort...

A cheaper way (well, short term) to go about this is to use organic gel filter (see Harker's article on "poorman's 20K Kelvin MH"). They have it in large sheet that can cover the whole tank's top.

There are better long term solutions, such as the use of colored glass (there is a german glass maker that sent me spectral curve for some of their blue glasses, but I don't have it with me...), as well as expensive hot mirror that you can use (no, they don't "shift" the wavelength of light, as one RDOTF member thinks it does) or custom optic filters.
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Postby hdtran » March 19th, 2004, 2:53 pm

Some of the tinted plexiglas is lightly tinted, not heavily tinted. Stop by a plastics distributor (not a sign shop, but an industrial plastics distributor) to look at samples.

I'd be extremely concerned about the long term exposure of acrylic to outdoor weather (even if sheltered). Especially UV and thermal expansion/contraction issues.

If you go glass, you can apply a 3M solar control film on the glass (generally on the inside side).

Again, be concerned about thermal expansion/contraction (although glass doesn't grow and shrink as much as acrylic). (But you also need to worry about differential expansion/contraction).

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Postby Len » March 19th, 2004, 4:19 pm

Hmmm. I guess I could build this tank out of glass. It's gonna weigh a ton, but seems like the way to go for outdoors. THe dimensions are likely 72-80" wide, 30" deep, and 30-40" high. Not sure how else to do it. Perhaps this simply isn't worthwhile.

The house is in Southern Cali, so sunlight is abundant. But I'm also concerned about the cost of heating and cooling this beast. Any ideas there would be appreciated.
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Postby tangir1 » March 19th, 2004, 4:47 pm

What part of So.Cal, I am curious...

Anyway, insulation will help a little with the heating and cooling issue. Depends on the energy input (light, pump, etc.), it may not need any heating during the winter's daytime. The larger the tank, the less of a thermo swing the weather will have on it. Cooling will be an issue during summer, and depends on it orientation (west facing wall tends to be hotter), and other factor, mere evaporative cooling may not be sufficient, but it can possibly taken care of with chiller if necessary.
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Postby Len » March 19th, 2004, 5:06 pm

They're in the South Pas area.

The tank will be on the west facing wall. Using a chiller isn't out of the question (I use one now for my 120g) but anyway to cut down on heating/cooling costs would be a big plus. I'm also worried about what Hy described. Because it's outdoors, temp swings will be an issue on the tank itself as well as the stand it sits on. Not sure what to do there at this point.

I'm beginning to think it isn't worthwhile to try.
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Postby tangir1 » March 19th, 2004, 5:18 pm

I don't see the thermo ex/contra to be an issue unless you use material with vastly different expansion coeffient. Beside, with insulation, the delta_temp may not be big enough to be of concern.

If you have a glass tank and put it on a well-constructed stand with PS foam in between, it should be enough to buffer the issue. I have several hundred gallon of water in my little back yard (smaller than my office at work) in acylic tanks, and I don't see any structural issue with crazing or anything.

I would do such a thing if my wife let me cut the wall... FWIW.
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Postby Len » March 19th, 2004, 5:38 pm

An idea I've been teasing is to build a full enclosure around the whole tank with some sort of UV-absorbing glass sheild on top. The enclosure could cooled by a standard wall-mount A/C, but I don't know how expensive it's going to be to cool the enclosure since it's gonna act like a greenhouse. This is also gonna bump up the labor and cost significantly.
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Postby tangir1 » March 19th, 2004, 6:26 pm

Pretty much all glass is UV absorbing, unless you ask for quartz...

Anyway, the main reason for green house effect is due to the IR getting thru the green house convert to heat, and stay in the green house due to poor ventilation.

If the air temperature is low, use ventilation fan to get the hot air out if tank temp. is on the hot side. It will be more work if outdoor air temp > greenhouse air temp > tank water temp > desired tank water temp. But with proper insulation and good IR reflector on the green house, it can be taken care of with a regular chiller.

The labor and cost is mostly related to how good you want the outside to look... a stucco sturcture that blends with the rest of the house, to a regular green house, to a cheap plastic shed, to a ugly wood covered box that sticks out on the side of the house.
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Postby Acrylics » March 19th, 2004, 9:50 pm

Len wrote:Hmmm. I guess I could build this tank out of glass. It's gonna weigh a ton, but seems like the way to go for outdoors. The dimensions are likely 72-80" wide, 30" deep, and 30-40" high. Not sure how else to do it. Perhaps this simply isn't worthwhile.
Given the size, you're pushing the limits of glass IMO. Also given the size, you're proabably going to want to use 1" acrylic. Getting this in a blue tint (will be custom run) will probably cost $40-50 per square foot, with a 2-3 sheet minimum. Starts to add up rather quickly.
If you'd like, I'll find ya the color codes for the very light blue tinted acrylic.
I'd suggest a gel though, similar to what Richard did unless you want to spend $2-4k just for the material.
As for UV, I wouldn't worry about it. Since they changed the molecular binders a few years ago, most companies will actually guarantee their material not to yellow or degrade from normal UV exposure.

The only time you'd have to worry about expansion/contraction is if mixing dissimilar materials. If you decide to make it from acrylic - this wouldn't be much of a concern IME.

If you need help getting the acrylic, lemme know.

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Postby hdtran » March 20th, 2004, 3:13 am

James,

Even if the entire tank is out of acrylic (no differential expansion in the tank itself), shouldn't you worry about the wall that the tank is set in? E.g. shouldn't you leave about 1/8 to 1/4" gap around the tank, so the tank can grow and shrink without hitting the framing?

I like the plate glass window to the exterior, suitably puttied in, and a tank just inside the plate glass window. Now, you have to worry about the greenhouse effect in that airgap, but you can tint the plate glass window with a 3M film (say neutral gray).

W. facing in SoCal is very sunny, so I'd go as far as the 50% gray film.
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Postby Acrylics » March 20th, 2004, 4:26 am

hdtran wrote:James,

Even if the entire tank is out of acrylic (no differential expansion in the tank itself), shouldn't you worry about the wall that the tank is set in? E.g. shouldn't you leave about 1/8 to 1/4" gap around the tank, so the tank can grow and shrink without hitting the framing?
I figured that would be a given as you wouldn't want to try and stick this into a zero tolerance hole in the wll :) but yes, you'd want to have a rather large bead of sealant or thick foam gasket material to prevent gas exchange (read AC/heat loss) between house and outdoors. There are several varieties available at hardware stores up to 1/2" thick which would work well for this.

I like the plate glass window to the exterior, suitably puttied in, and a tank just inside the plate glass window. Now, you have to worry about the greenhouse effect in that airgap, but you can tint the plate glass window with a 3M film (say neutral gray).
While I won't argue with ya, I'm always leary of glass tanks (even if just a window) that size. If I were to undertake this project, I'd use a fiberglass tank with open (removeable) top and an acrylic window like public aquariums do.
Relatively cheap, structurally sound, weatherproof, proven design, and just plain neato :)

W. facing in SoCal is very sunny, so I'd go as far as the 50% gray film.
If using a removeable top, this can be experimented and played with, if a fairly decent chiller was used, you'd be able to play with different gels without costing too much. A Lexan top with gel would be essentially weatherproof, lightweight for maintenance, and not gonna break when leaned against the house for playtime.

BTW, being in SoCal, you've got one of the best fiberglass tank mfrs (as well as real nice guy) in the world just down the road

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Postby tangir1 » March 20th, 2004, 3:48 pm

>... you've got one of the best fiberglass tank mfrs ...

WaterDog?
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Postby Acrylics » March 20th, 2004, 8:20 pm

Yep, just down the road (well not *just* down the road :) ) in El Cajon I believe. John (owner) has been building tanks for public aquariums for many years and has always been a real pleasure to work with. I've never heard a complaint about them in the public aquarium circle.

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Postby tangir1 » March 21st, 2004, 3:36 am

Yeah, they are still in El Cajon.
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Postby Robwsup » March 31st, 2004, 12:31 pm

try roscolux.com
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