Painting MDF: Shellac

This week we’re showing you the test results from using four different kinds of paint along with our MDF terrain!

Our first choice was shellac, normally used to protect wood. MDF is known to be susceptible to moisture, so this seemed the natural choice.

It is not! On the bright side, the shellac adds some nice texture to the building. Furthermore, it is easy to use paint and glue along with the shellac.

The problem: Every layer of paint makes it more difficult to assemble and dissamble the building again. The shellac coats easily gets very thick! We’ll give shellac a 2/5 rating. If you were going to glue the buildings anyway, you might not have a problem with the disadvantages, though.

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Production and prototyping of the Dread Streets Terrain has been difficult for reasons even FabLab and Makerspace enthusiasts aren’t always aware of. Why can’t we just send you the files, so you can use your own lasercutter? Well…

We began prototyping at Copenhagen Fablab as far back as 2014. At that point, a vector file  made in Inkscape was the only way to work with the Epilog Laser.

When moving to Technological Institute, all design work had to be redone, since their Universal Laser could only work with sheets half the size we were used to. Not to mention that the files had to be translated to work with the PC connected to their machine.

Moving into the final prototyping at Sonderburg Entrepreneurship Services (and production with 3Dtwix), we had to work with yet another size and type of sheet. Also the Redsail Laser works with AutoCAD files instead of vector files. The translation was not too difficult, but then it became obvious that the Universal and Redsail lasers do not eat away the same amount of material! This would not have been such a big deal, if we did not rely on “jigsaw” fittings!

Bottom line: Lasercutting isn’t like 3D-printing, where it’s entirely possible to send a “print job” to a friend (or foe if you really wan’t to!). With lasercutting, you have to be aware of software incompatibilities, and especially how much the laser eats away (which may differ, even for machines of the same type). This is one business, where you really need to try out the machine for yourself!

Evolution of the terrain

We began prototyping way back in 2013. At first everything was done by hand. Then came the laser cutter! We went from wooden cardboard to plywood to different types of fiberboard before we finally settled on the trusty MDF! Sadly, not every version has survived to tell the tale of the Dread Streets.

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