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Does Chrome Paint Make a Good Mirror?

  1. Feb 24, 2012 #1
    So we are trying to make a conical mirror so that our camera can see 360 degrees around a robot. Our budget is not very big, and I found this chrome paint on http://www.alsacorp.com/products/mirrachrome/mirrachrome.htm
    that I thought might work, but I'm not sure. What do you think?

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2012 #2
    As I understand it when it concerns something having the ability to "reflect" and image like a mirror does, it has to do with how smooth the surface area is. While metals are generally very reflective due to this, things like glass(crystalline structured) work well for reflecting because they are very relatively smooth on the atomic level. Since light reflection is concerning how photons (atomic sized)are reflected back the smoother surface the better. Notice on your link how even the car painted with the chrome paint slightly distorts the image. This is because (while an image is being reflected back) it is not reflecting the photons back in the same uniform direction they came in when coming in contact with the surface (therefore making the image come back "sloppy"). So I don't think its a question of the reflectiveness of the paint but rather how smooth the surface it is being applied to. Since you are wanting to use it so you can see through a camera I imagine you want the best clarity you can, which may not be obtained when simply relying on the reflectiveness of the paint.
    Anyone with a better understanding of the physics behind it please correct me if I was misleading about something.
  4. Feb 24, 2012 #3


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    This will not be very effective as a mirror. Getting an even coating is the biggest problem. I would try a mirror film like here [http://www.specialty-graphics.com/2800_FDC_Metallized_Sign_Vinyl.html] [Broken]. It's cheap [~ $2 / sq foot] Even if it doesn't work like you hope, you're not out the $80 alsa wants for a 4 oz can of mirrachrome paint.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Feb 24, 2012 #4
    I think we are currently using mirror film now, the problem is that it is difficult to get it perfectly flat on the cone and there is a seam where the two edges meet. Together, these create a warped image and a big blind spot.

  6. Feb 24, 2012 #5
    Like I said its all about how smooth the surface along with how reflective it is. Its really tricky to get reflective films to have the photographic clarity you are looking for in a camera image, especially when you are bending or wrapping it 360 degrees. You might want to look around for conical reflector hoods made for lighting systems in greenhouses. While you may run into similar problems (as far as it being camera quality reflective) you will find a wide variety of shapes and materials preformed into something that will work for your design.
  7. Feb 24, 2012 #6
    Also i think I should add about how the angle of where the light is hitting your reflector will greatly affect the image quality through your camera. So if you go with something like a reflective hood (or any other surface/material) you will have to experiment and compensate for the different angles being reflected back, and which ones work best.
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