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How to weld thermo-plastics, using electrically-heated tools


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Hi folks. I wanted to share where interested parties could see some scans of a few of the published articles I once wrote, that talked (at least in part) about doing things like welding various pieces of injection-molded plastic kits together, and modifying pieces made out of thermo-plastics, using a custom-ground "burnisher" style of tip, that fit onto a working end of a wood burning device, that had a separate temperature control device.

I am guessing / hoping this threat is not too far off-topic, for this part of these fine and fun forums (the conversion discussion areas) but if the admins decide it's better placed somewhere else, then by all means, please move this thread to wherever it would serve best. Thanks!

As background info: I used to write for a publication called "Sci-Fi and Fantasy Modeller". It was a publication out of England, that was (if you are not already familiar with it) sort of a magazine, and almost also sort of a book -- and almost a "soft cover coffee table book," at that, because it was full color throughout; few to no adverts; and had nice, thick, glossy paper. It usually covered models a lot larger than gaming miniatures: such as standard injection molded kits. Plus of course, some modelers who wrote articles for that publication, built things totally from scratch. (On occasion, I was one of those folks.) They are no longer in print, but various places online still have copies of various back issues, etc., for individual sale to the public. Not too long ago, I asked my former editor (Andy Pearson) to pass some emailed messages to the publisher, Mike Reccia, and from those talks came permission for me to release scans of my own articles. I have only scanned in a few of them, so far, but I'm doing so in fairly high scanning resolution, and I'm including, whenever I can, some of the original photos, in their full size. 

So what I'm saying is that the articles I'm pointing you folks, towards, below, were uploaded by the original author's, with the publisher's  knowledge and permission. We are not releasing these articles to the "public domain" or we are not trying to give away any of our rights. I'm just sharing the contents of some articles I wrote, with other hobbyists, who may or may not have seen these particular articles, before.

Where are these articles, and what is in them?

There is a group on Facebook that caters to the "Sci Fi/Fantasy Scratchbuild and kitbash modeler" -- but please note that, even though the publication's name and the group's name sounds similar, it's not the same thing. It's two entirely different groups of individuals. That group on Facebook has a section for "albums," where members there can upload things. It's under the "media" topic, towards the top of the front page for that group. I uploaded my scans and photos there, grouped by article topic. Here's the link to the "albums" area, where the stuff I uploaded can be found, plus, various collections of photos and et cetera by other people, also got uploaded, for the group's edification:

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2043682082594379/media/albums


Just in case that link, above, somehow breaks, here's that group's main page link:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2043682082594379

Okay ... so ...

Here are the (approximate) names of the individual albums where I had uploaded the various articles I had written, on the topic of welding thermo-plastic pieces together, and sort of "re-sculpting" those polystyrene or ABS kit's plastic parts, using an electrically-heated tool:


= = = = = = =

Album name = "Article Images -- 2010 -- Remodelling Max"
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.318696369930402&type=3

Description:  This was the first article I'd written, that was only on that one topic (of using heat to weld and/or re-sculpt plastic). This article was all about what I did, to restore and upgrade an injected plastic evil robot (Max, from the Black Hole film) kit that a dog had chewed on. This article covers pretty much all of the basics of using that tool I used; including my notes on how and why I custom-ground that tip; and what the various "zones" on that very useful tip were supposed to accomplish: cutting, joining, smoothing, and so on.

= = = = = = =
 

Album name = "Article Images -- 2013 -- Hoppertunity Scratchbuild"
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.2975532582727553&type=3
 

Description:  This was, as I saw it, part two on that theme of using heat to weld plastic parts together. This article has lots of info about a lot of different ways to scratch-build various sub-assemblies for a vehicular subject, but the project could not have been done (at least not as well, I don't think) without that technique of using a special, custom-ground tip, on a "Hot Tools" brand wood-burner, to basically re-sculpt plastic.

= = = = = = =
 

Album name = "Article Images -- 2013 -- Steampunk Hornethopeter diorama"

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.551736562630233&type=3

Description:  There isn't much in this article, on that topic (of welding plastic, using electrically-heated devices) but there is some. Mainly, with a deadline looming, I had showed that some "delicate surgery" could be done: that is was possible to convert and/or re-pose plastic "army men" figures, from various kits, using that tool and that technique. Previous to this article I had mainly used the technique to modify larger objects, which had a lot more surface area; and thus, the bigger parts naturally "rejected heat" (to a point: care still needs to be taken, to avoid badly warping things) so adding a figure to a small diorama, to an article that was mostly about a really nice multi-media kit, was a bonus.

= = = = = = =
 

Album name = "Trash Bashing -- 2011 Contest -- Deodorant Container Gaming Vehicles"
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.534922627535179&type=3

Description:  This one is most directly on-topic for these forums: it's showing deodorant containers, turned into home-brewed vehicles that could have been used for tabletop games. This one was never released as an article in that English magazine or book (a "mook," as the publisher sometimes referred to it) since it was sort of a "between articles" project I did, when Brian Roe ran a cool contest for enthusiasts of trash-bashing. (But it is pictured in "Ravage" magazine, page 65, April-May 2013 edition.) Even though I wasn't doing the build as an official "article," per se, I had taken photos as if I were -- (more or less just out of habit) -- so turning it into an article, a decade later, became a thing that was possible. The folks over at that group on Facebook seemed to like seeing those other article scans I had uploaded, so I searched for those older photos, on my older computers. I uploaded those images, and commented on each photo, to turn it into a pseudo-article.

= = = = = = =

My intent with uploading this info is to share some ideas with Modelers and Gamers; of possible use to them. I have no idea if these tips or tricks can be used with plastic types that I did not play with, but I suspect that the general ideas should be applicable to a lot of situations, with some modifications in terms of how long to linger on any given area, with the tool's heated tip, and so on. Note that this trick is very likely NOT going to work with resin pieces, since they are not "thermo-plastics". But as the trash-bashing article showed me, a decade ago, the idea that thermo-plastics can be heated up and given new shapes, is well worth exploring. (With of course, one eye firmly kept on the user's  or modeller's safety -- just as with the idea of using sharp knives, or various glues or paints, and so on, in this hobby we all like so much!)

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