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Dehydrators can help paint jobs

Q: I just bought a dehydrator to improve my paint jobs. Do you have any tips on how to use one?
At what temperature it should be set?  How long to keep the parts in? I’ve heard several opinions about using one. Thanks for a great magazine.

Darin Young
via E-mail

Ken: Thanks, Darin. We’re glad you like Scale Auto, and we’re glad you took the time to write.  

A dehydrator is a handy tool to keep in your arsenal of modeling supplies, but it’s by no means a magic solution to obtaining better paint jobs.  

Assuming you’re proficient with the basics of painting (which we confirmed through a series of E-mails) let’s touch on the basics of dehydrators.  

Paint dries through the process of evaporation. There’s a bunch other of scientific stuff involved (as with the earlier chrome-plating question) that tends to give us a headache, so for our purposes, let’s just say that drying occurs when solvents carrying the pigment disperse into the atmosphere, leaving behind a hard layer of color.        

Dehydrators speed up that process by adding heat to the equation while allowing air – an important part of the evaporation process – to circulate around the model.  That’s why drying a model in the oven isn’t a great idea: There’s little to no airflow.

Generally, a good temperature is 90 to 100 degrees for plastic, and 10 to 15 degrees less for resin.

It wouldn’t hurt to experiment with a test model or two to dial-in what’s best for your dehydrator. Time depends a lot on the paint, and could vary from a few hours to a maximum of 18-24 hours, which should dry anything.

Another Tip: Don’t stick your thumb into the paint to see if it’s done; do a sniff check. 

If you smell solvents, the paint is still gassing out. Sniffing won’t work with water-based paints, so allow some extra time in the dryer.


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