Handling 3D Printed Parts

There are several methods for making 3D printed parts. FDM systems build up parts by extruding molten plastic, SLS melts powdered plastic with a laser beam, DLP shines an image into resin using a transparent screen. The process I use is SLA, where a laser is used to draw each layer of the model into a tank of resin. All these process' have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the type of parts in the Flying Start range, SLA gives the best resolution and surface quality, overall.


The surface quality is by far the best, so parts are very smooth, so hardly any 'layers' can be seen, so clean up for painting is very easy. Mostly.... Depending on the orientation of the builds, sometimes some layers are inevitable, but the resin is hard and easy to file smooth with good quality abrasives, and to fill and prime. 

Small details are shown very clearly and crisply, and accuracy is very good; usually down to 0.1 mm or less, depending on the shapes.

The parts are easy to glue, normal modelling glues such as cyanoacrylate Superglues, epoxies etc work perfectly. Priming with acrylic paints gives an excellent base for colour coats.


The parts 'grow' on a scaffold of support struts, so there will usually be a little bit of support material to be removed, and clean up of the contact points, but little more than a conventional plastic kit would require. I try to minimise the supports, but they are needed for the process, so there will always be some to clean off!

The UV resins can be a little bit more brittle than injection moulded parts, so they need a little more care in handling. They can be easily filed and drilled if needed, but cutting needs a very new and sharp blade, and as little force as possible, as it can shatter rather than cut cleanly.  I suggest keeping a good pair of small side cutters just for doing this work, the sharper the better! I use Tamiya cutters part 74035, for example.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, e-mail me at