Tuesday 11 November 2014

Photo-etch soldering - Part 2

Last february, I did my very first attempt at soldering photo-etch parts on some scrap photo-etch. I reported that it was fairly easy and that I would "experiment more later and report my findings".

Well, 9 months definitely counts as "later" as we go into round 2 of the experiment. I decided to up the ante and go from scrap to actual photo-etch parts. Nothing like actual, ruined-of-you-mess-up parts to raise the stress levels a bit.

Finally time to break out the photo-etch bending tool that's been sitting on my desk for over a year. I must say, this tool is fantastic and provides precise and controlled bends. It was a bit pricey, but cheaper alternatives are available, for as low as €15.

The soldering itself is a technique to be practiced a lot, so it should go better the more I do it.
Not all photo-etch parts require this. In fact, more often than not, the photo-etch for your model kit wil be stand-alone pieces, to be bent and attached to the plastic model with CA glue. This kit, however, has an entire photo-etch assembly, consisting of over 50 parts, which stand to benefit greatly from the super-strong bond that soldering provides. It ain't always easy though ...

Below are a few pictures of the result of about 3 hours trial and error, swearing and rejoicing. I assembled the plastic counterpart in a few minutes and used it to check positioning and get the curve right for some of the larger parts. Just like any other new technique, there's a learning curve to this. Not burning your fingers, was a quick, easy lesson.
The larger parts are actually rather easy to join. The fact that the bond is strong as soon as you withdraw the iron is almost amazing. The smallest details however really tested the limit of my patience.

In the second picture below, you can see the 4 tiny hinges with which the panels are connected to eachother. Each is about 1 by 3 mm (roughly 3/64" by 1/8" unless my math is off) and a real pain to handle, let alone attach. I must have attached and removed them at least 10 times, before giving up and resorting to CA glue. When that ALSO failed to succesfully bond the parts, I considered leaving them off, but I pushed through with a last attempt to solder them and in the end settled for a mediocre result.

I punched 2 holes through the front part (with a hammer and a small nail), which should line up with the larger damage on the turret. It's basically 2 places where the paint chipping got out of hand because I used too much chipping fluid and too much water (another technique I'm just starting to get the hang of). I'm hoping the holes in the armour will create the illusion of several hard hits and look realistic.
Another advantage of photo-etch thus seems to be it's easier to make it look like damage metal, because it IS metal.

The thing I'm really looking forward to is getting both the plastic and photo-etch parts primed and painted. The paint should hide all the discoloration and scratches (from filing away excess tin). The whole idea of this longer-than-intended experiment is to see if all that trouble is worth it in the end. Will that photo-etch assembly look better than the plastic one or only marginally so?

Next time I will attach both pieces together. Again this requires 4 hinges, so wish me (and my fickle nerves) a lot of luck.

1 comment:

  1. Yey. your success is awe inspiring....OK just a bit too much I know, but a much better result than I could have done. So the "Yey" part still stands.