Giving New Life to a Scratched up NUC with PlastiDip

So I had this older i7 Rock Canyon NUC. It’s been a workhorse for years and was still going strong. It did, however, show the marks of a well-lived life. After years of going in and out of various backpacks & cases, and having more USB devices connected to it than I could easily count, the case was covered with scuffs & scratches.

The black plastic plate that goes on the front was especially bad, and probably not worth trying to fix. Not that I didn’t try:

Funny things happen to this plastic when you try to paint it

And don’t get me started on the lid. This was, after all, back before Intel listened to my complaints and all NUCs came with a high gloss lid. Naturally I forgot to take pictures of the lid before painting, but trust me when I say it was well used.

Anyway, what was there to do? The NUC is old enough that a replacement case wasn’t to be found, and a new lid would only scratch the surface (see what I did there?) of solving the problem. I’ve had success with PlastiDip in the past, using it to revive a scratched lid. I decided to give it a try on an entire case. So I headed to my local Lowe’s. PlastiDip is available in several colors.

I decided to grab white, gray, and black. That gave me a few options for color patterns.

To get started, I disassembled the NUC entirely. Sorry, again no pictures. This was a case where I thought it would be a quick fix, so it wasn’t until I was well into the project that I decided to start documenting it.

With the case entirely empty I first tried the white PlastiDip. While it gave a nice enough finish, I decided I did’n’t like the all white look. One of the great things about working with PlastiDip is that if you don’t like it you can just peel it off and start over. Which I did…many times. It got to the point that my wife started teasing me about it.

I experimented with different color combinations; white with gray accents, gray with white accents, all gray, etc. Finally I settled on gray with black accents and a black lid. Ironically, this closely mimics the color scheme Intel is using on the current line of NUCs. Turns out they got it right.

I also played around with different spray techniques, as how you spray PlastiDip has a huge impact on the finish. Spray directly up close and you get a smoother “orange peel” kind of finish. Pull the can back a few inches and you get more of a flat finish. Pull back even more and you end up with my favorite look, which is a soft matte appearance. I decided to go with that.

I painted the aluminum body gray, they taped it off and painted in the front panel area with black. Lastly, I used black on the lid as well.

The results are better than I’d hoped.

It isn’t a perfect finish, but I’m still quite pleased. As I said, it looks fairly close to the current generation. The main giveaway that it’s an older model is the power button on top, but at a glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a newer NUC. And the best part is, if I ever get tired of the look, or if it gets beat up again, I can just peel off the finish and start from scratch.

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