Let me start by saying I am not the first person to do this, nor am probably the first person on PBN, but I'm board so I decided to tell you what I did today, and how you can do it to make your own customized grips all for around $10-$15 for enough to make several pairs of grips.
So the main idea is to take a photo, or printout and turn it into grips for your marker. here's a stripped down list of things you'll need:
- printed photograph, one for each side. You can use either one you printed out at home, or better yet, a picture developed on photo paper. You can use cloth, carbon fiber (that's what I'm using), or pretty much anything that's somewhat flat. Something to keep in mind though is that this method will amplify any image underneath, so get your photo or printout with the highest resolution you can get.
- epoxy resin. this is the most expensive part to the whole set-up. I'm using a 2 part epoxy made by MAX CLR, and can be had on ebay for around $10 shipped.
this is enough to do several pairs of grips.
- acetone and a spray bottle
- oring pick/ small screw drive/ or anything with a fine edge
So that's about all you need. So lets get going.
I started with some carbon sheeting that I bought as scrap off of ebay. It's already impregnated and cured with resin, so it's pretty easy to work with. If your starting with a photo or printout, you'll have one extra step.
If your using something flexible you'll need to apply backing so that it is not flexible anymore. Keep in mind that your backing is likely to become part of the grips, so I wouldn't use anything too thick. An alternative approach would be to apply glue to the backside of the material and allowing it to cure. Just make sure the part stays flat, this is VERY important. Here's the carbon I started with:
cut your part to the desired shape. You can use your existing grips as a pattern or design your own. I'm doing some custom designed grips for a shocker CCM frame. You can make the holes for the grip screws now or later. I personally did them at this point as i used the screws to hold the part while I was cutting the carbon to the shape I wanted. Here's mine cut to shape with the screw holes drilled:
Clean off your part with some of the acetone. make sure there is no dirt, grease, or anything on the surface otherwise it will show up in the final product.
set your material on a prop that fits under your grips. You don't want your prop going past the edge otherwise you risk having the resin go over the edge. and making a flaw in your grip. Also make sure they are level!!! I'm using a machinist level, but any level will work fine. so here's mine propped up on glue sticks. hey they worked. Ignore the decal in the center of the grips. it's a picture printed on tissue paper that I though would turn out better. I'll talk about it later...Also, make sure you set this up in a place that is relatively dust free.
mix up your resin per the manufacture's instructions. once mixed completely
let it sit for a few minutes to let some of the air bubbles rise to the top and escape.
Pour the resin slowly over the top of your material. Pour it into the center of the grip and let it naturally flow outward toward the edges. If the resin stops flowing you can use your oring pick to spread it to the edges, but try to do this as little as possible. at this point your likely to have lots of little air bubbles in your resin. like the picture shown below:
All the little "sparkles" in the one on the left are little air bubbles.
at this point you'll want to take your acetone and put a little in a spray bottle. MIST
the surface of the resin. This will help thin the resin and allows the air bubbles to escape more easily. DO NOT use too much, as it will break the surface tension at the edges and allow the resin to spill over. So here's mine after ONE misting on the surface, yours may need a few, but this technique will get a majority of the bubbles out:
You'll notice that a good majority of the air bubbles are gone. However you may get some stubborn air bubbles like this one (it's a big picture so click to enlarge):
8) use your pick to push the air bubble to the side and out of the resin. Keep an eye on the resin for dirt that may settle on the top. Use the pick to get them off the surface. Once the resin has gotten very tacky, do NOT spray anymore acetone on the surface. I learned this one the hard way. I had a tiny air bubble on the surface, and tried the acetone after the surface was very tacky. It was tacky to the point where the resin kept the wavy surface from the acetone misting. If I had not done this the grip would be glass smooth, like they are in step 7.
you can see here the surface is wavy. this won't happen if you don't spray it late in the curing process.
I'm going to try and sand it out. hopefully it will work well. BUT if this does happen to you, you can sand the surface down flat and apply more resin in the same manner as listed above. You can also do this if you find that you have dirt particles on the resin once it is cured.
So that's about it. once cured you can add the mounting hole if need be or just install them. Just remember that the epoxy will likely take 24-48 hours to fully cure at room temperature.