Materials Used in Architectural Scale Models – Glass and Methacrylate – The Plexiglas and HIPS polystyrene

/Materials Used in Architectural Scale Models – Glass and Methacrylate – The Plexiglas and HIPS polystyrene
  1. Glass

Mineral glass (ordinary glass)

               It is tough and fragile, and is hardly used for building up models. To have perfectly straight corners, cut with the diamond supported by a ruler. Cutting with the diamond cuts leads the corners to perfectly clean. Strong push is not required, a small homogeneous incision is sufficient over the entire length of the cut. It is convenient to snap a little with water before hitting the glass with a working hammer. The glass is placed with the cut up over a straight edge and pushed up until the glass is split into two. Cuts with curved shape must be performed by a specialist. The thinnest glass is about 1.8 mm thick while the most common glass is between 3 and 4 mm thick.

  1. Methacrylate – The Plexiglas and HIPS polystyrene

               Methacrylate – It is a synthetic material, marketed under the names of “Plexiglas”, “Macrolon” and “Robex”, of low weight, elastic, simpler to cut than mineral glass. Being breakable, it breaks (often with protective paper). These materials can be found in a variety of variants: transparent, translucent, opaque, of different colours and textures, satin, tough, shiny, matte, etc. Methacrylate provides two distinct qualities. After its elaboration process it is distinguished by: XT material (extruded) and FN (cast) material. The extruded methacrylate, with a thickness of 1.5 to 8 mm, may have imperfections. Easily adapts to the desired results. The cast version, from 0.8 to 250 mm thick, is more expensive, but instead it is ultimately transparent and much easier to handle with precision.

                Polystyrene-HIPS Is usually white (on request can be found in other colours), resembles the methacrylate even if it is opaque. The format of the plates is 200 x 100 cm, with a thickness between 0, 5 and 10 mm.

                The thin sheets of these two materials are very good for the representation of facades, glass surfaces and decorative pools. If its thickness does not exceed 3 mm then it can be cut with a sharp cutter, making a few successive passes supported by a ruler and then supporting them on a straight surface to break them, pushing one of the halves down. This material can be cut with a saw, can be perforated and polished. You must pay attention to the heat caused by the electrical appliances. The cutting line must not be too hot to cause the material to melt. If you work with electric models it is essential to put on protective glasses!

However, “softening” of the material by heat allow us to bend thin plates using a hot air dryer (first take the protective paper). Due to thermoplastic deformation it can be modelled at high temperatures, but this is a process that requires special machinery and rarely applies to the construction of architectural scale models.

               For bonding of methacrylate there are special adhesives. If you use different adhesives from those recommended by the manufacturer, we advise you to take some samples to ensure you and take the protective measures! They can also screw the pieces together. Perforations performed with a drill must be wide enough for screws to be free of strain. The surface can be scratched, sanded and piled again. You can also practice incisions with a steel needle to mark lines, cross-references, or other graphs. If these incisions are left untreated they will have a white colour; to give them a different colour, you can apply the paints by helping you with a piece of cotton or gauze, and then, after a short drying period, re-polishing the surface.


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