Please see our scale mod
For scale models printed in gray resin, please see our Gray Resin Catalog (click here).
Are you new to 3D-printing? Here are some FAQs and helps.
3D-printed parts can harm small children. Please keep these models away from small kids.
How do I prepare parts from Shapeways?
1. Leave the parts in their plastic bag until you are ready to use them. Clean your new parts with a mild water-based liquid dishwashing detergent like "Dawn", "Fairy", "Neophos", "Sun", "Sunlight", "Joy", "Vim", or "Simple Green" in water. Let your parts soak for a few hours to remove any wax.
2. Expose your "Fine Detail" parts to direct sunlight or place them under an ultraviolet (UV) lamp for several hours (more is better) to fully harden the resin.
3. If necessary, smooth "Fine Detail" surfaces with an "air eraser" (click here to see an example). Smooth "Versatile" plastic surfaces by
applying thin layers of primer then smooth the primer.
4. Use the correct primer and paint for the type of plastic your part is printed in.
1. The model I want can be printed in more than one material, but which material should I choose?
For static display models, gray resin, available from Model-Monkey.com (click here), has the smoothest surfaces and finest detail. "Fine Detail" acrylic plastic, available from Shapeways, is another excellent choice for fine detail, smooth surfaces and sharp edges. Of the two types of "Fine Detail" plastic from Shapeways, "Smoothest Fine Detail" prints in thinner layers. "Smoothest Fine Detail" produces better detail and smoother surfaces but it is more expensive. If buying from Shapeways and budget allows, choose "Smoothest Fine Detail". "Smoothest Fine Detail" is more expensive because it takes nearly twice as long to print nearly twice as many layers (time = money).
For Radio Control models, where durability and strength are important, some larger scale products are available in "Versatile Plastic". "Versatile Plastic" is nylon. "Versatile Plastic" is rugged and completely waterproof. "Versatile Plastic" is also less expensive than "Fine Detail" acrylic plastic but its layers are more noticeable and its features are not as defined (edges are not as sharp).
2. What kind of glue should I use? Choose a glue that is specifically intended for the material your model is printed in. Cyanoacrylate (CA) "superglue" works best with "Fine Detail" plastic. But please be aware that superglue remover can melt the plastic. Testors liquid or tube cement won't work. Testors cement works best for polystyrene plastic but these 3D-printed parts are made of either acrylic plastic or nylon.
3. Should I clean the parts before painting? Leave your parts in the plastic bag, uncleaned, until you need them. Clean your parts with a mild water-based detergent like "Dawn", "Fairy", "Neophos", "Sun", "Sunlight", "Joy", or "Vim" dishwashing liquid, baby shampoo (no conditioner), or "Simple Green" using an old, soft toothbrush, Q-tips or pipe cleaners. Do NOT use any cleaner, primer, paint or thinner containing acetone, acetate or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). "Fine Detail" plastic may be sensitive to prolonged oxygen exposure. Paint your "Fine Detail" products soon after cleaning them.
4. I heard that I have to sit the parts in sunlight for a while before I paint them. Is that true? Yes, for products printed in "Fine Detail" acrylic plastic and "Black High Definition Acrylate" plastic. During the printing process, liquid resin is hardened by ultraviolet light. Microscopic bits of resin may remain unhardened. Expose your parts to direct sunlight or place them under a UV or fluorescent lamp for several hours to fully chemically harden the resin. The parts will appear a translucent white when fully hardened. Heat will not harden the resin, only UV light does. UV light breaks down an inhibitor in the liquid resin allowing the resin to harden.
5. How can I fix warped acrylic plastic parts? Sometimes microscopic bits of uncured resin remain within the acrylic plastic. This is a normal characteristic of 3D-printing (this does not affect metal nameplates). The presence of uncured resin can permit acrylic plastic to warp when wrapped tightly for shipping. Should you receive a warped acrylic plastic part, no worries! Tape the part to a sturdy, flat surface with clear "Scotch" or cellophane tape in the desired flat or straight position. Set the part in direct sunlight (or place it under a UV lamp) for a few hours. Any uncured resin will fully harden when exposed to UV light. The now fully-hardened plastic will remain flat or straight when you remove the clear tape. Clear tape is recommended because it helps UV light reach all of the plastic and fully cure all of the resin.
6. The surfaces are rough. How can I smooth surfaces without harming detail? After your parts have fully cured, if desired, careful use of an inexpensive "air eraser" can help smooth surfaces without harming detail. Use common household baking soda as a gentle grit. Air erasers look like an airbrush but cost much less. Air erasers can be found on Amazon.com or directly from the manufacturer. Models by Harbor Freight and Paasche are popular. For those few products printed in "Versatile Plastic", a kind of nylon that is difficult to smooth, apply thin layers of primer meant for nylon. Allow the primer to harden. Then smooth the hardened primer.
7. What kinds of primer and paint should I use?
For "Fine Detail" acrylic plastic, acrylic primer and acrylic paints meant for plastic are recommended. Any unhardened resin in the plastic can chemically react with enamel paint preventing the paint from hardening. So, if you prefer enamel paint such as "Colourcoats", enamel paint can work but extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light before painting is critical. Make sure you expose your parts to direct sunlight or place them under a UV lamp for several hours to fully harden the plastic before painting.
For "Versatile Plastic" products, only primers and paints intended specifically for use on nylon should be used. Other hobby paints may not adhere. Simply Google "primer for nylon" and "paint for nylon" to find several good choices.
8. I like to use an airbrush. Will paint thinner harm the plastic? It can if the paint thinner contains strong chemicals. Acetone will melt "Fine Detail" acrylic plastic. Do NOT use any thinner containing acetone, acetate, or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). Acetate is found in acetone-free nail polish remover. Acetate and MEK can cause a crystalline powder to form on the surface, even after painting, which is an annoyance to remove. The following chemicals may cause crazing, cracking, discoloration, or dissolving of "Fine Detail" acrylic plastics: Acetic Acid, Acetate, Acetone, Ammonia, Aromatic Solvents, Benzene, Brake Fluid, Butyl Alcohol, Chlorinated Solvents, Disinfectant, Ethyl Alcohol, Goo-Gone®, Heptane (sold as "Bestine"), Kerosene, Lacquer Thinner, Lestoil® Cleaner, Lysol® Spray, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Naphtha, Pinesol® Cleaner, Sulfuric Acid, Turpentine, Toluene, White Cap® Cleaner, and Xylene.
9. Do you print the models or does Shapeways? Shapeways prints the models. I (Model Monkey) design them. Shapeways is a Dutch company with two factories. One factory is in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The other factory is in Queens, New York, USA. Normally, your model will get printed in the factory that is closest to you and shipped to you from the factory. When you buy a Model Monkey model, you are actually buying it from Shapeways, not from Model Monkey. Model Monkey holds the copyright for each design. Please contact Shapeways customer service directly (click here) for shipping or printing questions or problems.
10. Shapeways says the product is unprintable and canceled my order. Can I still get it? Normally, yes. All Model Monkey designs pass Shapeways' automated design analysis software checks before being offered for sale. Occasionally, after purchase, a product will be determined by a human print engineer to have a feature too thin to survive cleaning. Shapeways will cancel your order for that product and refund your money. Although rare, this can happen to products that have been successfully printed several times. If your order gets cancelled, Shapeways will inform me immediately. I will make an adjustment to the design. Usually, you will be able to re-order the adjusted product the same day.
11. Do you make any 3D-printed designs for model airplanes or model trains? I have started to design products for model airplanes. I like airplanes and trains, too, especially the old classics by Airfix, Aurora, Lionel. Monogram, Otaki, Revell, Rivarossi, etc. Since those kits remain popular, some updates for them may prove to be highly desirable. One day I hope to begin designing products for model trains.
12. Do you accept requests for new products or alterations to existing products? I am happy to try to re-scale an existing design for you. Except for nameplates, I do not accept requests for new products or alterations to existing designs. But you can hire another designer (click here).
I hope you really enjoy your new, 3D-printed model. -- Steve Larsen, Model Monkey