I had some terrribad problems with some Army Painter primer recently. It left the surface of the models with a gritty feel and an uneven finish. I thought I could work around it and get my army ready for the BAO, but I was very wrong. That gritty finish made my 10mm scale Dropzone Commander models nearly impossible to make look good, let alone allow me to paint them the way I wanted. I either had to buy new models or that primer (and all the painting I did up until then) had to go!
I started off by trying the old Simple Green Soak trick. After 48 hours of soaking, most of the paint still wouldn't budge, especially the stuff in the really fine panel lines on these PHR models.
So I did the math and decided I could spend about $100 on new models and use the old ones as terrain. Or, I could take a chance and spend $100 to see if one of those ultrasonic cleaning machines worked as well as I'd heard... and get a new tool for the modeling arsenal to boot!
After a bit of eBay research (mostly just looking at pricing, reviews, and number of units sold) I decided the Digital Pro 2 Liter cleaner was the unit for me.
Turns out that was a pretty great choice! It showed up (from Southern California) 2 weeks before it was scheduled to arrive from China! The only explanation I have for this is that the Chinese company has a branch in SoCal. Either way, 2 weeks ahead of schedule is a pretty nice surprise!
It was smaller than expected but plenty big for a dozen DzC models or a couple of squads of Space Marines or even a Rhino. Larger models will either need to be broken up or you should look for a bigger machine.
The basket is great but the mesh is wide for 10mm model parts. They can slip through making you think you lost something. I cut out a thin sheet of styrene and punched some holes in it to keep stuff from falling through. Worked pretty good!
The results are impressive! The painted Zeus (upper left) is shown for comparison. All of the cleaned models above were painted to at least that level (gritty Army Painter primer and some detail). 2 of them had layers of gloss, details, panel line accent, and dull coat on, too!
It's also very easy to use. The left side of the control panel runs the heater; just adjust the temp you want with the Temp+ and Temp- buttons. Turn the heater on or off with the On/Off button at the bottom of the left side.
Move to the right side and set your run cycle to between 0 and 30 minutes with the Time+ and Time- buttons. Then start the cycle with the On/Off button at the bottom right and walk away. Just let it do it's thing!
You may need to allow the models to soak in the mixture a bit to allow some time to soften the paint. The longest soak I had was overnight (10 hours).
It took seven 30-minute cycles at 50 degrees C to get 99% of the paint off. I didn't have to touch them with a brush, at all! Super handy!
Most of the leftover paint was either in the radar dishes on the Phobos models (above) or in the grillwork at the back of 2 of the 4 Apollos I cleaned. Every other surface was new looking!
It's not all pickled pterodactyls, though. There are some things that could be improved upon:
- The cavitation creates tiny bubbles in the fluid, in my case 1:1 Simple Green and water, which causes a high concentration of vapor in the area around the machine. A tight seal around the lid would have helped a bunch. Unfortunately, the basket keeps the lid from fitting down over the lip of the tank. My entire apartment smelled strongly of Simple Green for 2 days! Also, this vapor issue means you must NEVER use flammable liquids/cleaners in this process! Cavitation creates a lot of vapor and that vapor is what will catch fire at the smallest spark of flame.
- Using the heating function can cause resin models like these to warp. I had this problem on a couple of the guns, but they were easily bent back into place after a short dip in a cup of hot water.
- The cleaning cycle is only 30 minutes. It would have been better if each cycle was at least a couple of hours.
I think this was a great buy at $85.00, but due to the size of the tank I wouldn't spend more than $100.00 on this unit.
Even with the minor issues above, I give the Digital Pro 2 Liter ...
Five out of Five!