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3-D printers make aircraft wires

Through melting sprue!
RELATED TOPICS: MODELING TOOLS
FSMRT0517_01
A 3-D printer will make excellent wires for aircraft so you won’t have to bother with melting sprue anymore.
My days of making aircraft wires out of sprue by melting it with a candle are over!

Having received a 3-D printer last year, I’ve had a lot of success with it in my modeling. While it has not replaced buying kits for full-size models, it has helped with detail parts for those kits. An unexpected benefit happened the other day when I went to change the printing medium — polylactic acid, or PLA.

The element must heat up to get the old medium out and the new one in. Instead of allowing the medium to auto-feed, I pushed a little of the medium forward. When the machine finally did feed, it started squirting excess plastic.

I grabbed this plastic with tweezers and began to pull. The result was the thinnest stretched plastic I have ever seen. I continued to pull and ended up with about 16 feet of the stuff. All but the initial plastic was fine and consistently sized, about half the thickness of a human hair!

Now I have enough plastic line to make antenna wires, fine ship rigging, or handrails. If I need more, I simply repeat the process. But three cautionary notes:
1. All printers are different. Get to know yours before you try this!

2. Use anything but your very burnable fingers to grab the plastic. You will be close to the hot business-end of the printer.

3. Since the plastic line is so fine, unless you are careful you’ll snarl and tangle it quickly just like human hair.

Also, leave yourself room to either lay it out or have another person cut it into sections as you pull it out.

Tip submitted by:
Todd Wardwell,
Glenolden, Pa.

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