Working with Photoetch
This summary of advice is especially relevant to the high quality kits we produce, and is only given with this in mind. (This advice may well be helpful for other products also, but it is especially presented relating to its application on our products).
The below covers the following areas:
GETTING STARTED WITH PHOTOETCH
When working with photoetch for the first time, it is important to be conscious of the material properties and the benefits of this material. The fineness and crispness of detail gives many models that added reality that makes the finished model look just right once it is completed. The thinness of material that can be achieved using photoetch parts, allows for scale to be kept as close to correct as is possible, for many parts that would otherwise not be possible to produce in resin or white metal.
This material takes some patience to use, but the end results can be superb, so long as time is taken to construct the parts. Kit Form Services offer a range of standalone Photoetch kits, which are great ways to discover the material and practice with some smaller sets, if you are unsure of the material for the larger kits. There are a number of great tutorial videos online for working with photoetch, and we hope to create a few more over the coming years. We use a variety of different materials for our photoetch parts and kits depending on the requirement of it. These mainly include Brass, Nickel Silver and Stainless Steel.
PREPARING AND APPLYING PHOTOETCH
The key to preparing photoetch is to try to avoid touching the detail surface of the metal too much with your hands, due to the oils that are left by fingers on the surface. Some parts of the Photoetch can be removed very easily from the frets that they are contained within, but others may require a cutting tool in order to remove them, such as a fine scalpel blade or a pair of cutters or snips. Be aware that the material can spring away on cutting, so the best advice is to hold the piece down while cutting to ensure it is not lost in the process of removing it from the fret.
When working with photoetch parts, we recommend using fast curing epoxy rather than superglue where possible (especially with chrome plated or polished parts), as small white marks can often occur. (These white marks are caused by the fumes from curing superglue reacting with oils from fingerprints present on the parts.) Superglue is perfectly ok to use on etch parts where they are planned to be painted. Preparation of the glued surface on all etch parts is important. The glued surface should be abraded with Wet and dry paper to remove all surface oxidisation before gluing. Smaller etch details, such as lettering or cab badges, can also be affixed using PVA glue or even a clear gloss varnish.
WORKING ON EXHAUSTS
This is specifically for guidance on using photoetch when creating exhausts. To produce curved exhaust stack ends, simply take a piece of scrap curved sprue close to the inside diameter of the pipe and insert this into the end of the aluminium pipe. Gently tease the pipe between the thumb and first finger to about 45 degrees. Do not make the bend too sharp as this will kink the pipe. Once curved, twist out the sprue and cut the pipe in line with the upright using a razor saw. Trim up the pipe with a scalpel and use wet and dry paper to finish, and then you can polish it to a high shine with metal polish, or buff it using a very fine grade of wet and dry paper, or a finger nail buffing tool.
This is about highlighting half etched detail in photoetched parts. Flood coat the area to be coloured with the paint colour of your choice. When the paint is dry but not hard lay the part face down on a piece of clean white paper dampened with white spirit. Now rub the part around in a circular motion to remove the paint from the raised areas. This now leaves chromed raised areas and coloured half etch areas. See Western Star mudflaps in the top picture for an example.
This approach can be used on multiple materials, but can often be used well on etch detail too. Use a matt aluminium or pale grey for highlighting. Stir the paint well & apply just a little to a piece of scrap card. Take quite a stiff brush and lightly touch the end of the bristles into the paint. Now wipe away as much of the paint as you can from the bristles using a rag or tissue. Then brush the detail area on the model quickly from side to side with the virtually dry brush. A tiny amount of paint will be deposited on to the high points of the model, giving just enough colour change to highlight the detail parts. Practice makes perfect but remember, a tiny amount of paint goes a long way in this process, and it is better to build this effect up, than apply too much and have to remove the paint.