Straightening photo-etch

So I have a 1/700 photo-etch brass searchlight platform. I guess I bent it getting it off the sprue. It has attached railing which seems fine but the platform has a bit of a bend in the middle. I found only one useful suggestion to try - using a rolling pin to flatten it. That didn’t really help. I have to imagine this happens a lot as this photo-etch is so thin (it’s by Flyhawk fwiw) so have to believe there is a standard way of getting it back to flat…

If you are gonna roll it, do it one something hard or it will roll even more. My two go to’s for flattening photo etch are to

  1. place the part in my photo etch bender between the top part that screws down and the bottom part and screw or down tight. I then leave it like this for a bit of time to flatten out. Careful if there is detail in the photo etch like bolt heads or such as it can flatten those out too.

  2. get the end away from the bend secured with a clamp and gently slide a steel ruler along the part working the kink/bend out

Annealing may help if clamping doesn’t workout.

Heat the brass until it changes color (I use a small butane torch) and let it cool. You can quench the piece in water if you’re in a hurry but the pieces we use are so small that they don’t retain heat for long. Quench/don’t quench, it won’t change the softness.

Try it out on a piece of fret from the PE as some of the different manufacturers’ brass gets much softer than others.

Clamp it again as Mead detailed and you should be pretty close to flat.

Annealing is also very effective for those very small radius bends that keep springing open (gun tubs etc.)

Good Luck

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Thanks. I rolled it on the kitchen cutting board and that didn’t help. I usually put small parts under my bender, but this isn’t really small and it doesn’t really fit under my bender (because of the bender’s screw in the middle) - it’s a searchlight platform that goes around the front of the funnel.

This is amazingly thin photo-etch - I wish I got PE like it in armor kits.

Hmm larger parts can be tough. Do you have standard hardware clamps? If so put it between two hard surfaces and clamp them together

That’s a good idea. I’ll give that a try…

Roll it on one side, then flip it over and roll the other side.

Rolling on a hard surface is good to smooth out any bend lines, but to remove the curve that will be imparted, gentle counter-rolling on a softer surface, like a sheet of thick paper, is what will be needed. Also, the counter-rolling will have to be done VERY gently.

In the end, it will be nearly impossible to get the part perfectly straight, as if it had never been distorted at all. However, as you glue it in place, starting at one end, you can eliminate any residual curve.

One thing you can try is, after counter-rolling, put the part between two pieces of glass and slide the top piece back and forth on the part. This might help (but not always, nor usually perfectly).

One suggestion (with apologies if it comes off as patronizing) is to use any residual curve to match the geometry of the model, if possible. That is, if the model geometry curves in one direction, glue the PE piece so that its residual curve goes in that same direction.

The “trick” with the rolling is to know that the counter-roll on the other side has to be done gently and on a softer surface than the rolls on the hard surface needed to smooth out the bends.

Thanks everyone. I’m going to hold off on the annealing to begin with. I will first try clamping it, then rolling on a soft surface against the bend (as if I were trying to put a curve in it) then on a hard surface hopefully to smooth it out.