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KitMaker Network

Vacuform Basics

The case for vacuforms hasn't been helped by their reputation for being particularly difficult to build - I think this is largely fostered by people who've never actually built one. In reality, vacuform kits aren't particularly harder to tackle than most short-run kits and, by ignoring them, modellers are depriving themselves of many exciting subjects that have yet to appear in other forms.

Through talking with many modellers, it seems to be right at "square one" where things go wrong... just getting parts ready to use. The aim of this introductory article is to try to dispel some of the fear in which vacuforms are held, set out some easy techniques for getting over this first hurdle and so encourage more people to have a go at this enjoyable and, ultimately, very satisfying style of modelling. Obviously, I'm primarily an aircraft modeller, but I think the techniques will be basically applicable to all types of model.

The pain is in the parting?...
The first task with any vacuform model is to remove the parts from the surrounding sheet of plastic. The way almost all commercial vacuforms are moulded means that when the parts are cut out they also include the thickness of the plastic sheet. This excess must be removed to achieve the true size of the parts and there are two popular methods which make it easy to see just how much plastic to remove:

1. The first way is to use a permanent marker, ink or thinned paint to mark the outlines of parts on the sheet.

2. The second way is to spray the entire sheet with an aerosol primer. Some modellers prefer this method because it also highlights any blemishes which will need attention later.

Both methods work equally well and the only important thing with either technique is to make sure the paint or ink reaches right into the angle at the base of the parts; if it doesn't, you'll hit problems in the following stage.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...