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  1. I've always wanted to build a fairly large diorama, in something like 1:350 scale, and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches in the weeks after D-Day was a favourite choice for me. I have all the spud pontoons etc. from L'Arsenal, but didn't have any bridge or gantry sections and these are paramount if building the harbour. There is also a problem in that you need lots of them. I've tried scratchbuilding these parts myself but I could never get two spars or sections to be exactly alike in either length or thickness. I then came across a thread on a railway modelling site, about cutting your own pieces from plastic sheet with a cutting machine. After reading that thread a few times I went and bought a cutting machine and after a few days of learning how it works and dabbling with the software, I scanned a diagram of the bridge section into my PC and after tidying up it looked like this: In 1:350 scale this bridge span is only 2.75 in (7cm) long. I drew vectored lines along those of the scanned image, in order for the cutter to recognise where to cut. Once I had completed the images, I duplicated it 27 more times until I had filled the size of an A4 sheet of 0.25mm plastic card. When the layout was ready I hit the 'cut' key. There's not really much to see here but this is the sheet after it has been cut. You should just be able to see all the cut lines on the sheet. The cutting mat has a sticky top side to it which is necessary to hold the sheet in exactly the same place whilst making multiple cuts. The next task is to lift the waste part of the sheet away from the cut sections. Here we have the 28 bridge spans, plus some end-plates, all cut out to cleanly and exactly to the same dimensions. This would have been a right mess if I had tried cutting all these with a modelling knife! The parts tend to bend (as with any cut plastic) but can be easily flattened. And now for some 'Assembally' (for those who watched New Yankee Workshop!) Look, my own construction kit! The built model. Unfortunately my camera doesn't like white plastic...... So I've given it a spray of primer and stuck a couple of 1:350 ambulances onto it. Just like the Normandy photo! So there you go, who needs expensive PE or aftermarket (which is usually produced to fit a specific model only) when you can cut your own? Another major benefit, especially here with all these bridge sections, is that once you have made your template you can produce more and more as you want them, all to the exact same shape. Another benefit is that although this has been produced to 1:350 scale the drawing can be up-scaled to what ever size needed, such as 1:76 or 1:35 etc., and is only limited to the cutter aperture which in this case is 15 inches. The cutter also cuts masks and decals, in fact it is probably only limited to your imagination! Check through the link again to see what they say about the different types of cutters that are out there. There are quite a few different types and prices but most are able to cut masks, decals and thin plastic sheet. I've only been playing with the cutter for a week (this build was a bit of a rush test and only took about 2 hours so imagine the standard if I spent some time and effort to make a quality build.) so don't know yet how thick a piece of plastic sheet it can cut. This bridge was made from 0.25mm sheet, which is about right for bridge spans in 1:350 scale and the cutter took two passes to cut through (you can set the cutter to make multiple passes if the material is tough). Hope you enjoyed this and perhaps it has given you the inspiration to look at building models, or parts, from a different viewpoint. cheers Mike
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