limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

Please sign up for my email list to get updates and notifications for contests and giveaways!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun with coatings, part 1: Cerakote

I've been doing some experimenting in the "lab" and I started working with a Cerakote applicator to test out the finish on a couple lights. Cerakote is similar to powder coat but it's a proprietary ceramic-based coating developed primarily for firearms. It comes in a variety of flavors and is very durable. It also looks awesome. I had two lights test-coated and you can see them below!

Cerakote by NIC Industries
So a lot of people Cerakote over raw aluminum. The coating is hard, but the aluminum underneath is still pretty soft. I Cerakoted these lights after they have been nickel plated. This means you retain the corrosion and wear protection of the nickel and you get additional surface hardness to make the finish last longer. I'm not aware of any other manufacturer (custom or commercial) that goes to this kind of trouble.

The two colors shown are "carbon black" and "flat dark earth." Read on after the jump for a couple more photos of awesomeness.

Electroless Nickel plate stays where you need it
Here you can see the nickel plated threads. I have to make a special fixture for each light to make this happen, but I'm not the kind of person to do something "half way." :) Leaving the threads untreated (raw aluminum) is cheap and easy, and that's why some manufacturers do it. It just doesn't make sense to me...and I try to do things because they make sense...not because it's cheap and easy. In my mind you absolutely need both corrosion resistance and wear resistance (specifically on the threads) to make a light durable because it prevents thread wear and maintains optimal electrical conductivity.

Details, details, details
I masked the back of the tailcap to let a little nickel show through and provide some contrast. It also keeps the Cerakote out of the bore of the tailcap to accommodate a future accessory...a titanium tailcap button.

Custom masking fixture
I have to make a fixture for each light that prevents the Cerakote from going where I don't want it to go. The pin in the back allows the coating guy to hold/hang the light while it's sprayed. A plug made of DuPont Teflon goes inside the head to keep the LED mounting surface clean. Silicone o-rings are used throughout because they can resist the high temperature of the heat-curing oven.

No comments:

Post a Comment