What is the thickness of an Estes 12” plastic parachute?

brockrwood

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I usually make my own parachutes out various plastic materials, including simple plastic garbage bags.

I was about to buy a roll of cheap, white, tall kitchen garbage bags for this purpose when I noticed the bags were only .4 mil thick. That is .0004 inch. That is pretty darned thin. I try to make my parachutes thin, especially when I am trying to stuff the parachute into a BT-20. Still, .4 mil is very thin.

Sometimes I use dry cleaner bags, which are .75 mil thick. That is usually as thin as I like to go.

This made me wonder: How thick is a standard, plastic Estes 12 inch parachute that comes with many of Estes LPR kits?

I figure, to achieve light weight and less bulk, I should shoot for a thickness somewhat less than a standard Estes parachute.
 
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lakeroadster

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I usually make my own parachutes out various plastic materials, including simple plastic garbage bags.

I was about to buy a roll of cheap, white, tall kitchen garbage bags for this purpose when I noticed the bags were only .4 mil thick. That is .0004 inch. That is pretty darned thin. I try to make my parachutes thin, especially when I am trying to stuff the parachute into a BT-20. Still, .4 mil is very thin.

Sometimes I use dry cleaner bags, which are .75 mil thick. That is usually as thin as I like to go.

This made me wonder: How thick is a standard, plastic Estes 12 inch parachute that comes with many of Estes LPR kits?

I figure, to achieve light weight and less bulk, I should shoot for a thickness somewhat less than a standard Estes parachute.
0.001" I just checked one I have in my stash.
 

brockrwood

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Nonetheless... be careful. They'll still shred if the speed of the rocket is too high at deployment.
Hmm. Is kind of fragile. But this particular rocket is a weird design. It is a BT-20 main body tube. But it has to two booster tubes. It is a heavy rocket. I need two parachutes in a minimum diameter rocket. The parachutes have to be light, fluffy, and thin to fit in that tube.
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Bluegrass Rocket

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1.2 mil low density polyethylene is what you should be shooting for. There are many trash can liners at this thickness. None of the name brand trash bags at the local grocery store will be this thickness. Search your local supply stores or you can check Amazon. 1.0 mil is still pretty thin. That .2 makes a difference.
 

Steve Shannon

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Go to a building or paint store and buy a plastic drop cloth. They’re available in several thicknesses and it’s all usable, no seams or bends. Price wise I suspect it’s cheaper than garbage bags.
 

caveduck

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Estes parachute thickness has increased over time due to child safety regulations (remember that Estes products are officially classified as "toys"). A really long time ago they were 0.75 to 1.0 mil, which was pretty useable. When I noticed a recent pre-assembled one seemed really stiff and measured it by folding it over several times and using a micrometer, it was in the 1.6 to 1.7 mil range, which is really pretty bad for deployment. I don't know the dates when the thickness was increased but I think it has happened a couple of times at least.

A while back I got a big batch of 80 gauge (0.80 mil) poly cleaner bags from Amazon, which make very nice LPR parachutes. You do have to color it with black magic marker. Attach nylon rod-winding thread lines with 1 mil Mylar or Kapton tape and you have great parachutes that deploy well. The 100 gauge also works and makes a slightly sturdier parachute. The cleaner bag poly is more flexible than the Estes chutes due to the lack of the all-over screen printing. You once could get red poly bags which made really great parachutes but I looked pretty hard and could not find an off-the-shelf source anymore.

Be careful with paint drop cloth plastic. A lot of it is *not* poly and is really stiff, producing parachutes that don't work in smaller sizes. I experimented with some a couple of years back and ended up relegating it to paint masking use.
 
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