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Hello all, I did a search and did not come up with any results, so I thought I would start a thread.

 

Has anybody here tried making custom parts using photo-etch? I know that dafi has, so perhaps he would like to chip in.

 

I have done some googling to find out if it is possible to make parts for a ship I would like to build. The fittings that come with the kit are rather chunky and I have been thinking about how I would replace them. I think PE is the solution.

 

It is possible to do photo-etching at home, as per these links:

 

http://www.steelnavy.com/etching.htm

http://www.starshipmodeler.com/tech/fh_pe.htm

 

... and you can buy your own PE kit here: http://www.micromark.com/micro-mark-pro-etch-photo-etch-system,8346.html

 

HOWEVER, it requires an investment in machinery (if you do not already have these): laser printer, fluorescent lamp, heat source, laminator. It also requires consumables, including some toxic chemicals, a glass plate, and so on. In the end, the investment sounds pretty substantial for making a small run of parts.

 

My next thought was to look at businesses that can do it for you. So far I have found a few:

 

http://www.ppdltd.com/web_site_3/page_1_intro.html

http://www.photo-etch.co.uk/page1/page6/page6.html

http://www.photofab.co.uk/

http://saemann-aetztechnik.de/

http://www.orbel.com/photo-etched-precision-metal-parts

 

I have not looked in detail to see if any of these companies would be happy to do a one-off project. It appears that as a minimum, you need to supply your artwork in vector form, either AutoCAD format or CorelDRAW format. A pixel manipulator (like Photoshop) will not work. Does anybody know of any free CAD programs or vector drawing programs that can output to AutoCAD format or CorelDRAW format?

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Keith, I have found a guy  (railroad modeller) whom used to do it but not sure he is still around.  It's cheaper if you can do the artwork, but he also did that but it was on the condition that he fitted it into his own work (time a bit longer :( )   PM me for details.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Pat i'm not looking at doing it any time soon. At the moment I am researching into what is possible, in anticipation of an upcoming build. I can chat to you about it when I next see you.

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Thanks Brian. I have done a little more reading and it appears that the thickest part that can be photoetched is 1.5mm, and it can be etched using multiple exposures (meaning, it is possible to create depth in a PE part). I wish that I asked to see your Amati PE parts when I was over yesterday, as far as I can tell from your photo, even the 3D parts look nice and crisp.

 

I have since remembered that there is a CAD subforum on MSW, I visited it and devoured quite a few threads. I have downloaded a copy of DraftSight and have an evaluation copy of TurboCAD. I am a complete CAD novice, so far I have drawn a couple of lines and circles! Fortunately there seem to be quite a few free resources to teach yourself CAD.

 

I will also be looking at quite a few PE ship's parts to see what is possible. If I am going to get a few parts made, may as well fill up the sheet.

 

If anyone wants to PE their own parts, it appears that the process is:

 

1. Obtain a CAD program and learn how to use it

2. Print it out and check it against the plans

3. Send off your file to one of the businesses listed above to produce it for you.

 

No idea of the cost so far. Has anybody done this? Dafi?

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Hi Keith,

 

I've done photoetching for a couple of my models using the Micromark kit. It does work. However, I will say that doing your own photoetching will probably not result in parts that look like the commercial set that Brian showed. The commercial processes are different than the DIY kit, and from what I've been able to find, they are cost prohibitive.

 

But DIY PE is pretty finicky, involves several steps, and if you screw up one thing you practically have to start all over. You also need a drawing program, but the Micromark kit requires an inkjet printer, not a laser printer. I even gave up at one point as nothing was turnout out well. Then, I tried it again with a fresh outlook months later and had some pretty good success on small items.

 

And...well... I was going to direct you to my photoetch results on my Saginaw project, but I just went there and 2/3 of the photos are now missing, so that won't help.

 

Clare

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Thanks Claire for your comments. A number of us have had to rebuild our build logs following the site's HDD crash. If you could re-upload them it would be really helpful. Also, what do you mean by "cost prohibitive"? A few hundred dollars? A thousand? :( 

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Hi Keith,

 

Minimum charge I got was $350. I guess if you really, really want the parts badly enough, maybe it's affordable. Or if you make enough parts from a sheet, you can of course sell the unused, but I think it would take an awful lot of people to make it worthwhile. But, now that I'm looking at it again, maybe it's not exactly cost prohibitive. More that it's a pretty big investment.

 

On the other hand, I found at one point a place that will laser cut just about anything and the price was pretty low, with a $6 minimum order. I don't recall what the cost basis was, if it was area of cuts, total cutting time or what. I just know that they could cut wood, but the only metal they could cut was stainless steel, I believe it was.

 

Anyway, now that you brought up the topic, I'm going to have to revisit these things and see what it would really cost to sending some work out to be done. Of course, I think it's nicer not to say "I did my own photo etching" than saying that "I paid a service to do it". But, it just all comes down to the value of your time I suppose.

 

Clare

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Thanks for the link. I am going to look into this more, since I know if I can get it to work I have a heck of a lot of stuff I can do with it. Let us know if you have any more information on this. Thank you for sharing with us.

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There is an outfit in Australia called Steam & Things that does custom photoetching mainly for model railroaders but also ship parts; they've already done a set of paddle wheels for a 1\8 inch to the foot model of the Great Eastern-which I am also doing-so I intend to use them for photoetched stuff.  Hope this helps.

Edited by brunelrussell

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