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Thread: WSF Model and Surface Preparation

  1. #1

    Default WSF Model and Surface Preparation

    There have been about 47 threads where someone discussed the best methods of preparing Shapeways WSF material for painting, and after a while the thread floats downward in this list never to be found again. Our members have experimented with everything from thinned PVA glue, floor wax, multiple spray coats, tack-coats (looking at you Clipper), sanding, melting, and spackle.

    Let's gather all these good tips in one sticky thread. If you have wisdom to share on this topic, please follow up here. Please note that this topic can also include de-warping WSF models that have been bent during shipping.

    You might also find some tips on the Shapeways forums under Finishing Techniques.

  2. #2


    Thank you for this!

  3. #3


    .PVA method

    1. Dilute (3 pts PVA, 1 pt water) PVA brushed on. Takes about 2 mins. Wait for 24 hrs.
    2. Nailfile or emory board for 30 secs on rough spots. Those with Dremel tools, use a very fine sanding attachment and low power.
    3. Repeat steps 1-2 twice more.
    4. Undercoat with acryllic paint. Takes about 2 mins. Wait a day to dry. Save time by undercoating in CDL. I use an Ivory spray.


  4. #4

    Default Warped models

    Warping: once in a while you'll get a WSF plane from Shapeways that has gotten deformed from the pressures put on it during shipping. If it's broken (say, struts are snapped), you should just take a picture and send it to Shapeways support. They're very good about sending out replacement models: they've got a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

    If the warping is minor, you can frequently recover from it by letting the model sit for a while immersed in hot water. Hot tap water can do the trick, but hotter water tends to do better -- you can heat up the water in the microwave or oven (in an appropriate container like Pyrex). [Or, based on a post I saw elsewhere, just sit it outside in the Australian summer. ] If using a microwave, for safety, you can put a toothpick or something in the water to act as a boiling-starter, though you're not trying to get it to the boiling point. The WSF plastics are heatproof to 80°C/176°F -- you'll want to use a candy thermometer or similar to make sure you don't overheat the water and melt the print completely. (Of course, water that hot can scald, so use appropriate care.) If you're feeling handy, you can pull the hot plane out of the water with forceps or something and give them some gentle pressure to help things back into shape (wear gloves), but sometimes just the hot bath will do the trick.

    After a bath or three in hot water I've found that many planes with minor warping return to their original shape.

  5. #5


    Here is an example of the hot water treatment to fix a bent WSF plane. I ordered 28 planes recently and only one of them was badly warped: An Austrian Lloyd C.II.
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    I put a bowl of water in the microwave and heated it up 30 seconds at a time until the water was about 165F (checking with a candy thermometer), then gave it a good hot-water soak and a little gentle pressure when it was warm. The result is quite acceptable:
    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6


    No pictures, but I have had good results with the clear floor wax method. I use 3 or 4 coats, then prime.
    It is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he thinks he knows. -- Epictetus

  7. #7


    By request I have repeated my painting tips here so we can have em all in one place, enjoy

    First step is to seal the fig both to fill in the gaps between plastic particles and to add strength to the model. I use Future floor polish to do the trick. I coat them around 6 times with light coats of polish and let each coat dry well before doing it again. The trick is to try and even out the surface without filling in all the detail.

    After it fully dries I use a flex file (U shaped handle with a thin strip of sandpaper covering the open end) To sand off the grainyness. Main targets are wing surfaces, tail surfaces, and the body of the plane. Pay close attention to the leading and trailing wing edges as that is where you can over sand and take out detail or change the shape of the wing. Prep work is vital before the first drop of paint hits the model.

    After sanding it is prime and base coat with my paints (mostly army painter brand).

    After the paint dries I use a wash of 90% water with roughly 10% future floor polish and black paint for pigment (Known as magic wash on the old Flames of War website) THis pools in the low points making the higher detail stand out.

    After it fully dries I do a second wash with Warpainter Soft Tone (Small bottle- water based) As I like the double wash effect. It covers the whole model with a soft sepia tone giving it that dirty look. Be careful to not glob it or let it pool on the wing edges as it dries though.

    Then I decal the model and use decal setter to properly get them to hug the surface of the model. If you do not have decals Miscmini here on the website can fix you up, he seems to do some requests and his decals work great.

    For the final stage I dust them using Tamiya Dusting compacts (looks like a makeup compact and works the same way) The dusting highlights the raised ares and give the model that gritty / Dusty look.

    Final step is a dull cote flat sealer spray. The flat sealer makes the details pop and the colors look more real.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Shadowcat; 07-17-2017 at 13:12. Reason: Never ending spell check

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