In this project, we’re going to show you how to make some custom car badges for your cool secret agent vehicles using some epoxy resin and UV markers!
Our new car is a Chevrolet Suburban, its really big and fits our large family. My wife wanted it all blacked out to look like a secret agent truck. I thought it would be awesome to make some custom car badges that would make the truck look like a SHIELD truck from Avengers. That would be a cool enough project by itself, but in keeping with the whole SHIELD versus Hydra story (spoiler: Hydra secretly infiltrates SHIELD) I thought it would be even cooler to hide a Hydra logo on the badge.
We found the SHIELD eagle and transferred the .svg image to the Glowforge laser cutter and cut out some circular badges. After many iterations and color combinations, I decided to score the logo into a piece of glossy black acrylic and paint the non-eagle areas a flat grey. With a collections of cool flat badges, we had to figure out how to hide a Hydra octopus in plain site.
Josh found a red UV paint marker on Amazon that we could use to draw the logo onto the black badge. This kind of ink is only visible when placed under UV light. We happened to have some UV flashlights left over from the SLA Cabinet project that worked great. In order to get a nice crisp UV image, I didn’t want to try and free-hand draw the intricate octopus, so instead we cut the logo out using our vinyl cutter. We could place the vinyl mask directly onto the badges and using the paint marker to apply the hidden ink.
After peeling off the mask, I use the UV flashlights to check our work and I was so excited at how amazing it looked! It was exactly what we were looking for. Without the light, you couldn’t see the Hydra logo at all, just the black and grey of the SHIELD badge. But when the light was applied, the bright red shined bright.
To make the badge a 3 dimensional object, I wanted to do an epoxy pour over the top. Just like raised, or puff stickers, epoxy can be applied to the top of a flat object to give it a raised, curved, and protected outer coating. At first, we tried to use a silicone mold of a flattened lightbulb to achieve that convex shape, but it was unnecessary. Simply pouring an even layer of epoxy over the badge (on a level surface!) was enough to create that slight rounded top. Once the resin cured, it looked amazing! I was really surprised to see that the red UV ink was now blue under the same UV light; it looked like a hologram.
With the epoxied, secret badges completed it was time to place them on the truck. Some vehicle makers use special badges to signify a special feature, “Trail Rated” or “Special Edition.” Our new badges would be way more subtle, as secret agent cars should be. My wife decided that one on each front quarter panel in front of the doors and one on the back windshield would work great. To adhere the custom car badges to the truck, I used VHB tape form 3M. This tape is made specifically to withstand the elements and can be removed from the car without damaging the paint. Once applied, the truck looked super cool, and the secret Hydra logo looked dope in the sunlight!
Iteration and Problem Solving!
Making custom car badges is pretty cool, but making them reveal a secret message is fun. You may not need to go as far as we did on this project, but it was awesome to start with an outlandish idea and figure out how to make it work. Having a little scope creep toward something fantastical is really fun and very rewarding when it all comes together. This was an exercise in problem solving, trial and error, and iterating on a previous design. Give yourself something silly to make and follow the iterative process until you’ve got it just right. Hail Hydra.
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Finishes & adhesives I like:
- Glowforge (laser)