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Old 01-22-2015, 09:29 PM
ego1138 ego1138 is offline
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Default 1/72 Space Shuttle - With Accurate Tiles

So because I dont have ENOUGH unfinished models laying around, I decided to start up another one.

The 1/72 Monogram Space Shuttle with ET and Boosters.

Just now in the planning stages, but want to accurize this thing as much as I can. And for me, one of the most important places to get right, are the thermal tiles on the underbelly and nose.

I've seen some GREAT work by others who've done this, most notably Phil Smith, who's shuttle is the gold standard in my eyes. For his tiles, he took some styrene sheet. Scored the entire length of it every 2mm. Turned the sheet 90 degrees, and then cut through it every 2mm, leaving him long strips that were 2mm wide, and with scored tiles every 2mm. He then layed each of these strips down, one at a time. Then went and filled in the gaps with little tiny cut pieces. He says in his writeup that this took him MONTHS to do. Was tedious as balls. Lost interest countless times.

I couldn't blame him.

So, I figured there had to be a better way . . . and I think I just discovered it.

Two things were key to this.

1. Finding a set of blueprints that were (at least as far as I can tell) accurate as far as tile placement and size. Of course, these were scaled to the same size as the model.
2. A paper cutting machine. I got a good deal on a Silhouette Cameo. If you're not familiar with it (which I wasn't), it's a computer controlled plotter with an exacto blade in it. It's designed mostly for scrapbookers and greeting cards, and vinyl stickers. It also has an adjustable height for the blade, which is key.

So instead of cutting shapes into paper, with the lowest blade height, and feeding in sheet styrene, I can actually just SCORE the sheet . . . in the EXACT design of the tiles.

So now, it's just a matter of breaking up that pattern into more manageable sized chunks. I'm figuring it will probably work into about 20 different pieces. Glue them on just like a puzzle, and boom, that months of work is done in an evening, with an accuracy that should be completely unmatched by anything out there right now.

Attached picture is the result of my first test. I'm about 90% impressed.

Two things that need improvement from what I can see . . . fresh blade with a steeper angle than the one supplied with the machine . . . . and I've noticed that in my original vector drawings, I have multiple lines over top of each other. Which are unnoticeable on the screen, but it's causing the machine to cut the same areas multiple times, which is making a couple areas look a little sloppy. So will fix that up.

The area in the picture is the underside of the orbiter at the nose. The nose gear bay doors are visible, and directly behind them (on the left of the picture) is the area where the orbiter would attach to the external tank.

Length of my test piece is about 48mm.

Anyways, VERY excited by my results and wanted to share as I start this build!

Attached Images
File Type: jpg shuttle tile test 1 - resized.jpg (433.1 KB, 120 views)
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