Additional tips specific to XP Forge printed FDM models

Tips for FDM print lines:

  • I am not a 3d printer.  I know very little about the process. I do know I would have loved having 3d printing as an option 30 years ago. 

  • What I can tell you is that I am extremely impressed with those that can create the digital designs and then print them out.  That is where Ghukek Designs & XP Forge come in.

  • All of the 1-1800 scale ships on this site are designed by Ghukek and printed by XP-Forge.

  • All of my decals are specifically designed and sized to fit those ship models.  

  • When purchasing ships through XP-Forge you have two material options:

    1. FDM

    2. UV cured resin​​

  • Personally I am very partial to the resin prints.  I like the weight of the resin as well as the smooth surfaces it provides.  They are easy to clean up and prep.  They are fun and simple to paint.  The resin prints are also easier to prep for decals because their surfaces are much smoother than the FDM surfaces.  

 

  • I will leave the details as to why FDM prints have lines and why resin prints do not. End of the day, we have to deal with the FDM print lines as they will show through the deck decals.

 

FDM print & lines

Resin print & smooth surface

I have found several options to mitigate and or neutralize the lines on the FDM printed decks:

  1. Clear finger nail polish

  2. Clear UV hardened nail polish

  3. Heavy handed primer coating

  4. Heavy handed Gloss thick coating ​

 

Don't get all judgy about the nail polish... You would be amazed how many cosmetology tools work great for our hobby.

Clear fingernail polish:

This option gives you good control over which areas receive the coat. The downsides are that it takes several coats with sanding between coats. Each coat takes several hours to dry.

 

Clear UV hardened nail polish: 

Because I use UV glue to adhere aircraft to CV decks I had all of the necessary tools.  I use this same process to fill gaps and casting flaws in NavWar 1-3000 decks.

Nail polish is solvent based. Test them before using on your model.

This process has several advantages. It gives you good control over which areas get coverage especially during additional coats. Dry and cure time are almost imdiate with the UV light alowing for rapid sanding and recoating.

 

 For the sanding between coats I use both nail files and sanding blocks.  I cut them to size and shaped needed. They are significantly less expensive than the hobby versions:

Hard to go wrong with 50 assorted grit pieces at $5.00 including shipping.

Heavy primer & heavy gloss:

The process is the same for both of these. They are also the easiest.  Start by sanding the untreated deck. Apply 1 or more heavy spray coats. There are potential problems with using either of these options individually.

Primer is not designed to go on in think coats. In fact primers should always be applied in an extremely thin coat.  If done correctly, it should be almost translucent. You should still be able to see the model material color underneath the primer.  I often see people applying primer as if it is an actually color coat. Primers primary purpose is to act as a binder between the model material and the color coats.  Therefore, thick primer coats do not cure quickly or well.

 

Clear coats are designed to cure and harden, even if put on a bit too thick.  The potential problem is if you are going to be brushing your color coats, clear gloss coat will make it difficult to achieve opacity with out several coats.    

Therefore, I recommend option #5 over either #3 or #4:

A thin primer coat. Followed by 2 thick gloss coat, sanding between coats. You then have the option to apply another thin primer coat. I would recommend the 2nd primer if you are not using an aerosol or airbrush applied based color coat.

Primer, gloss clear, primer process on FDM print

Therefore, I recommend option #5 over either #3 or #4:

A thin primer coat. Followed by 2 thick gloss coat, sanding between coats. Clear coats are designed to cure and harden, even if put on a bit too think.  You then have the option to apply another thin primer coat. I would recommend the 2nd primer if you are not using an airisol or airbrush applied based color coat.

So there you go.  It is a bit of extra work to get rid of the print lines. That is another reason why I recommend spending the extra couple of dollars for the resin prints. 

 

Since I covered some of the cosmetology tools I use for the hobby in this process I want to add one additional.  I use mostly Vallejo paints.  This nail polish shaker can be purchased for around $65 and it works great!

Paint shaker

When mixing thicker Game and Model Color lines I use one or two of these in the bottle:

Just make sure you purchase a reputable Brand. If you buy the cheap Amazon balls you will endup with rusty paint...

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