Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tamiya Pla Plate

Tamiya Pla Plate

Ordered up also some Tamiya Pla Plates from HobbyLink Japan. The picture above is right next to a 24 inch T-square (for reference). Can't believe that there's actually a T-square in the house *snicker*

They're basically styrene sheets usually used to add detail or to modify a model kit. Also used for scratch building parts or prototypes. I'm not sure when Tamiya started selling the PlaPlate sheets but I remember it coming out in the Tamiya Catalogue for the very first time (I think it was 1985 or 86 edition...yeah I'm old) Being a grade schooler at that time all I could say was Meh! Now though its like Holy Cow! better than sliced bread!... hehehe.

Tamiya Pla Plate

The Plaplate I got from HLJ were the Y600 Pla Plate 1.0mm (2 sheets), Y600 Pla Plate 0.3mm (5 sheets) and the Y600 Pla Plate 0.5mm (4 sheets). These styrene sheets come in B4 size or roughly 257 × 364mm in dimension.

I'm actually very thrilled with this arrival, because I could actually start-up again my long shelved SF-3A Lancer II scratch building project. This time I'd be using plaplate to make the master before casting it in resin.

I actually would have preferred to use modelling board for scratch building the Lancer II. Modelling board is commonly used for making prototypes of model kits for master molds, but I found it too expensive for my budget. It wasn't exactly the Renshape brand that I found, but still the same polyurethane type modelling board. For that particular modelling board it would cost me about $33 for a 3ft x 4ft board with 5 inch thickness. Modelling Board can be carved, drilled, machined, etc making it ideal for prototyping.

Then again, if I really had the moolah, I'd buy a CupCake CNC 3d Printer from Makerbot and print out my own Lancer II model kit *snicker* More info on the Cupcake CNC 3d Printer can be found here. This thing basically prints out plastic layer by layer until a sold form is formed. It is similar to the commercial 3d printers that Bandai uses to create a prototype when designing their model kits.

Anyway, back to the Tamiya PlaPlate. Looked at the back of the Plaplate for the literature and found out a couple of things. This is just a quick and dirty translation on my part, so am not vouching for the accuracy.

When cutting, you can use a cutter, Tamiya P cutter, Tamiya curved scissors (designed for cutting plastic) or a hobby saw. For 0.3mm pla plate you can use scissors for cutting. There's actually a great article here, instructing how to cut these type of styrene sheets.

Tamiya Pla Plate

I'd actually recommend to use a cutting mat underneath before carving this up with a cutter. The mat helps protect your work table from being scratched by the blade. It also protects the blade tip of your cutter because it hits against a soft material instead of a hard material (like your desk). The lines of the cutting mat actually have a purpose, they help you align your piece. In some cases they also have pre-measured lines so that you don't have to refer to your ruler all the time. Another recommended item for me is the metal ruler, plastic or wood rulers will just get scratched by your cutter with the possibility of being misshapen very likely.

A4 Cutting Mat w/ Metal Ruler

When making a hole you can use a pin vise or a Tamiya handy drill. With the case of the 0.3 mm and the 0.2 mm clear pla plate, you can actually use a punch to make holes.
Tamiya Pla Plate

When shaping, you can use a cutter, Tamiya handy router, knife, metal files, compounds and sand paper. For scribbing, they recommend to use a Tamiya P-Cutter (refer to the direction arrow for use in the image below)

Tamiya Pla Plate