Author Topic: How to retr0brite  (Read 5918 times)

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Offline Photekq

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How to retr0brite
« on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:28:25 »
Before following this guide, please bear this in mind :
Lastly, remember, retr0brighting changes the chemical composition of the plastic, making it weaker than it was before.  Do not retr0bright if the plastic is already brittle and do not retr0bright if you are looking to preserve something and make it maintain the colors.  Retr0brighting brittle plastic may cause it to break or break more readily.  The Danish National Museum did a study on retr0bright and does not recommend it for the purposes of preservation due to the weakened state of the plastic and the damage it causes to the plastic. 

Here's a super small, simple guide on how to retr0brite keycaps. The same method can be applied to full keyboards, etc. E.G I used this method to retrobrite a case from an NCR G81-3007HAD and it worked brilliantly.

What you will need :



  • Something to retrobrite
  • Peroxide paste - I'm using 40vol (12%). You can pick this up at a hairdressers/drug store. The official retr0brite guide suggests something slightly different, but I find this bleaching paste works completely fine.
  • Oxy stain remover - this acts as a catalyst. Very important.
  • Gloves! Peroxide isn't nice!
  • A small bowl and spoon
  • A source of UV light. Leaving it out in the sun works, but I'm using a UV lamp

Step 1.

Make sure your keycaps are nice and clean. I use denture tablets in hot water to clean them.




Step 2. WEAR GLOVES DURING THIS STEP. BURNS FROM HYDROGEN PEROXIDE AREN'T NICE, TRUST ME.

Mix the peroxide paste with the oxy cleaner. The oxy cleaner won't mix very well with the peroxide paste, so you'll want to dissolve it in boiling water first. The amount of oxy cleaner you use doesn't matter too much. Roughly you want to use 1/4 teaspoon for every 200ml-500ml of peroxide paste that you use.




After dissolving the oxy cleaner in boiling water, just add the peroxide paste and give it a good stir. It will look something like this :



Step 3.

Apply the mixture to your keycaps/keyboard. You want to make sure that the coating is fairly thick, but not so thick that it becomes opaque. Remember that UV light is an essential part of this process.



Step 4.

Leave the keycaps/keyboard under a UV source for a few hours. I personally left it overnight for about 12 hours.



Step 5.

Rinse the peroxide paste off and enjoy the results!

Retr0briting is really easy, and I hope this guide helped some of you out.




« Last Edit: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:55:16 by Photekq »

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:30:56 »
that Winnie the Pooh bowl tho

I need to retro some of my caps.. :?

Offline Zeal

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:38:05 »
Any Before/After shots of the keycaps?  :)
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Offline Photekq

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:40:14 »
Any Before/After shots of the keycaps?  :)
I don't have any of the keycaps, but I do have some of the NCR case I mentioned..

Before and after

It really is like night and day.

Offline Zeal

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:43:57 »
Any Before/After shots of the keycaps?  :)
I don't have any of the keycaps, but I do have some of the NCR case I mentioned..

Before and after

It really is like night and day.

 :eek: Wow.
This thread will come in handy if I ever stumble upon some old keyboards!  :thumb:
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Offline Photekq

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:44:38 »
:eek: Wow.
That's what I said when I rinsed the peroxide of that case, hah. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Offline nubbinator

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:46:23 »
Oxy stain remover - this acts as a catalyst. Very important.

In my experience, the oxy isn't necessary.  I used straight liquid peroxide and acrylic over the last caps I retr0brighted to keep them submerged and it worked perfectly.  I actually prefer a slightly lower concentration peroxide (I think I used 30% last time) and sunlight since it gives me more control over the final color of the plastic.

The main reason I don't use the oxy is that all the research I've done indicates that it's one of the main sources of "blooming" that you sometimes see after retr0brighting.  I'll have to go searching for some of the links again, but I saw a technical explanation of why that sometimes happens when you add the oxy.  Plain peroxide will do the job without the oxy added, so why over-complicate it?  The only downfall of plain peroxide is it takes just a little longer.

And if you do the paste method outdoors, you should cover it with saran wrap or some kind of translucent plastic to try and keep it from drying out.

Lastly, remember, retr0brighting changes the chemical composition of the plastic, making it weaker than it was before.  Do not retr0bright if the plastic is already brittle and do not retr0bright if you are looking to preserve something and make it maintain the colors.  Retr0brighting brittle plastic may cause it to break or break more readily.  The Danish National Museum did a study on retr0bright and does not recommend it for the purposes of preservation due to the weakened state of the plastic and the damage it causes to the plastic.  Also, remember that the plastic changes colors due bromine in it reacting to air, not exposure to UV light.  If you have an old keyboard or something else made of plastic that you're looking to slow or stop the yellowing in, seal it with some kind of clear finish.  That should help retard the reaction that causes it to yellow.

Offline Photekq

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 19:54:10 »
In my experience, the oxy isn't necessary.  I used straight liquid peroxide and acrylic over the last caps I retr0brighted to keep them submerged and it worked perfectly.  I actually prefer a slightly lower concentration peroxide (I think I used 30% last time) and sunlight since it gives me more control over the final color of the plastic.
Hm, when I tried this without the oxy it just didn't do anything even after 24 hours. That may have been because I'm using 12% though.

The main reason I don't use the oxy is that all the research I've done indicates that it's one of the main sources of "blooming" that you sometimes see after retr0brighting.  I'll have to go searching for some of the links again, but I saw a technical explanation of why that sometimes happens when you add the oxy.
Interesting, thanks for that.

Lastly, remember, retr0brighting changes the chemical composition of the plastic, making it weaker than it was before.  Do not retr0bright if the plastic is already brittle and do not retr0bright if you are looking to preserve something and make it maintain the colors.  Retr0brighting brittle plastic may cause it to break or break more readily.  The Danish National Museum did a study on retr0bright and does not recommend it for the purposes of preservation due to the weakened state of the plastic and the damage it causes to the plastic. 
This is valuable information, I'll add it to the OP shortly.

Also, remember that the plastic changes colors due bromine in it reacting to air, not exposure to UV light.  If you have an old keyboard or something else made of plastic that you're looking to slow or stop the yellowing in, seal it with some kind of clear finish.  That should help retard the reaction that causes it to yellow.
I had always thought it was due to UV exposure. Where have you read that it's due to bromine reacting with air?

Offline nubbinator

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Re: How to retr0brite
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 30 March 2014, 20:02:31 »
Hm, when I tried this without the oxy it just didn't do anything even after 24 hours. That may have been because I'm using 12% though.


I had always thought it was due to UV exposure.[/url] Where have you read that it's due to bromine reacting with air?


Yeah, 12% would take a couple of days.  30% took about 4-5 hours to get to a nice color.  And sometimes something like 12% is actually weaker than that.  I'm trying to remember what I read where it went on about the percentages and how the percentages in readily available stuff are actually different than hair salon stuff.  Some salon supply stores actually have 40-50% you can get, others require you to prove you're a beautician.

Sorry, I shouldn't have stated it that way on that one.  I should have said "not always due to exposure to UV light" since the color shift isn't always caused by UV light.  Depending on the chemical composition of the plastic, it may purely be due to oxidation or it could be accelerated by heat.  This guy goes into it a little.  He could be talking out his ass, but I've seen a couple different discussions on what causes it.  The general consensus I've seen is that it's oxidation that can be accelerated by UV light and heat.  So all brominated plastic should yellow over time, even if it's kept in a dark box.  The best way to preserve it is to seal it to retard oxidation.
« Last Edit: Sun, 30 March 2014, 20:06:46 by nubbinator »