エッチングのガレージキットの特徴は?メリット・デメリットについて

金属板を使用したエッチングキットについて紹介します。

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エッチングキットとは?

エッチングキットは、一般的に売られているプラモデルとは異なり、金属板を原材料としたキットです。

版画制作など美術や工芸、或いは工業的にも用いられるエッチングという技法を用いて金属板を使って部品を作ります。

出来上がった個々の部品はバラバラな状態で販売されるのではなく、部品が金属板に繋がった状態で販売されるのが一般的であり、そのため見た目には金属板に様々な模様が描かれたような形になっています。

なぜ金属板を使用するのかというと、プラスチックに比べて金属の方が強度が高いことが主な理由です。

強度が高いため、より精密で細かな部品にすることができます。

また、エッチングという技法を使うには、金属板を使用することが不可欠なのです。

エッチングというのは、金属板に耐薬品性のある樹脂を塗布して不要な部分をエッチング液と呼ばれる薬品で溶かす技法です。

エッチングキットでは、この技法を用いて必要な形状の部品のみを残します。

金属板に塗布する樹脂として光硬化樹脂等を使用すると、マスキングを使って光を当てるところと当てないところを分け、光を照射するという方法を使うことで、大変繊細な部品も作ることができます。

エッチングキットは金属板を原材料とするため、一般的には薄い形状の部品が得意であり、立体的な形状の部品を再現するには、その金属板を折り曲げるなどの加工を制作者側で行う必要があります。

従って、ガレージキットで販売される場合でも、エッチングキットのみで一つの模型が完成するような組み立て模型のキットは少なく、航空機模型のコクピットや艦船模型の艤装品など、既存の他の組み立て模型のデティールアップ用として販売されるのが一般的です。

エッチングキットのメリット

エッチングキットの最大の特徴は、部品の精細さと精密さにあります。

現在ではエッチングの際に金属板に塗布する耐薬品性の樹脂として光硬化性樹脂が入手しやすくなったたえ、フォトエッチングと呼ばれる高精度で高精密な部品を作り出せる手法が主流となっています。

このため、デティールアップパーツとして最適であり、プラスチック成型のでは精密さに欠ける部品をエッチングキットの部品と置き換えることにより、組み立て模型の解像度を飛躍的に上げることができます。

例えば航空機模型や自動車模型の計器パネルなどに使用すれば、プラスチックの部品では再現できない計器の細部のデティールを表現することができるため、魅力的な組み立て模型に仕上げることができます。

また、艦船模型は一般的に縮尺が大きいので、例えば窓枠や手すり、ラッタル、レーダーなどの装備品は非常に細かくなります。

そのため、プラスチックの部品をエッチングキットの部品に置き換えることで、非常に精細な表現を行うことが可能です。

また、近年では金属板の両面から異なるパターンでエッチングを行ったり、複数回に分けてエッチングを行うことで、平たい金属板から作るためにどうしても平面的な形状になりがちな部品を、部品の立体的な形状を可能な限り再現した製品も販売されています。

エッチングという技法は、廃液の処理さえ注意すれば特殊な技術や資格は必要なく、また使用する薬品なども比較的安価に入手することができるため、模型店や小さな模型メーカなどでも製品を作ることが可能であるため、多くの製品が販売されています。

エッチングキットのデメリット

エッチングキットを使用することで組み立て模型の完成度を飛躍的に上げることが可能という大きなメリットがある半面、その使用にはデメリットもあります。

まず第一に挙げられるのが、価格が高い点です。

製品として販売するほどの完成度のエッチングを金属板に施すには、プラモデルキットを製造する場合とは異なる技術が必要であるため、価格が高くなる傾向にあり、場合によってはデティールアップしようと考えている組み立て模型本体と同等かそれ以上の価格になることもあります。

次にあげられるデメリットは、プラモデルと異なる、金属加工のための作業や道具が必要となることです。

エッチングキットに使用する金属板はステンレスや真鍮などの材質のものが一般的ですが、プラスチックと異なり錆が発生したり、プラモデル用の塗料が定着しないことが多々あります。

そのため、錆防止と塗料の定着のためにメタルプライマーと呼ばれる樹脂を全面に塗布する必要があります。

また、これらの材質はプラモデル用のニッパーできることはできませんから、専用のニッパーやハサミが必要となります。

更に、金属板から作るためにほとんどの部品は平面であり、目的の部品形状にするために、折り曲げたりなどの金属加工が必要な場合もあります。

精細な部品ですから、折り曲げなどの加工を行う際には、専用のたがねなどを使用して慎重に作業する必要があります。

また、部品を接着するときも、プラモデル用の接着剤では接着できないので、瞬間接着剤を用いたり、はんだ付けを行うなど、金属加工特有の材料や道具、技術が必要となります。

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