The holidays always evoke nostalgia for family traditions. For my family, one of these traditions was to put a model train set around the base of the Christmas tree. It was that finishing touch that said the holidays were really here. This week, we’re offering gift ideas from all the Tiny Worlds our designers create, and I hope you’ll be inspired to make model trains a part of your family’s holiday traditions.
Shapeways offers an enormous variety of model trains that are as detailed as those you’d see on tracks around the world. But, 3D printed models do require a few finishing touches. Model trains are printed in a number of scales and sizes, and generally produced in Frosted Detail Plastic. The post-processing of these trains in Frosted Detail requires a few tools:
Acetone or Simple Green
Synthetic Paint Brush Set or Airbrush Kit
Acrylic or Enamel Paint
Matte or Satin Varnish
Once the tools are assembled, you are well on your way to getting your perfect model train ready.
1. Model Prep
If there is any residual oil or wax support material left over from the production process, this can easily be removed using acetone or Simple Green solvent. You can simply dip and air dry the model. Or, using a paint brush, you can lightly spread the solvent on the train and air dry.
**TIP** If you notice an excess amount of residual support material or details are distorted, this may call for a reprint. Please send an image and order number to email@example.com.
2. First Coat – Prime
Primer is added as a first coat in order to provide a uniform surface and offer a stronger hold for your paints. Recommended primer colors include black, grey, or white. Your primer color selection will depend on the colors you decide for your top coat.
In order to keep the finest details visible, it is best to use a thin primer. For example, Krylon Color Master Primer will do the job.
Models can be painted in a variety of ways. The most common methods for painting a high-detail finish include airbrushing and hand-painting.
Airbrush painting is a great method for coating large areas of your design more quickly. This will require a fine-tip sprayer kit and masking to cover the areas that are not intended to be painted.
Hand-painting might be a bit more accessible to those who don’t want to invest in an airbrush kit. For this method, a range of small-sized synthetic brushes are recommended. The synthetic hairs do not fray, have a longer life span, and allow for finer points due to their stiffer structure.
With hand-painting, we suggest using acrylic or enamel model paints. First, add your larger base details using a larger brush. Then, with a smaller brush, use the lighter colors to make your details pop. Once painted, let the material dry completely before moving on to the next step.
4. Clear Coat
The final step to finishing your model train is to add a varnish. This will seal the paints and offer the appropriate sheen. Choose a matte or satin finish depending on your glossiness preference.
The varnish should be thinly applied and set to dry. Once dried, the model is ready to be displayed.
This year, we hope you’ll make model trains a part of your holiday tradition, whether you make and give them as gifts or set them up for all to see. Who knows? Maybe hand-finishing model trains can be your new favorite family holiday pastime.
Do you have any tips or tricks to finishing your model trains? We would love to hear them, so please share them with the community on our forum or in the comments below.