Extra thin cement has gained enormous popularity during the last decade or so. More and more people are using this type of cement to build their models. Tamiya has two different extra thin types of cement in their range. If you are wondering what are the differences then you have come to the right place.
What Is the Difference Between Tamiya Extra Thin and Extra Thin Quick Setting Cement?
The main difference between the two versions of Tamiya’s cement is the curing time. The Quick Setting cement cures within seconds when applied sparingly. The original Extra Thin cement usually takes a couple of minutes to set and hours to days to completely cure.
As you would probably expect, there are differences in the chemical compounds used to produce these two types of cement.
The original Tamiya Extra Thin is a fifty-fifty mixture of butyl acetate and acetone.
The newer Tamiya Extra Thin Quick Setting is a mixture of ethyl acetate, butanone, and acetone. Ethyl acetate is hotter than butyl acetate when it comes to melting plastic and also evaporates much more quickly.
How Long Does Tamiya Extra Thin Cement Take to Dry?
The official Tamiya website says the original Extra Thin cement takes approximately 40 seconds to dry and the Quick Setting cement takes 10 seconds to dry. However, that statement is a bit misleading.
Yes, the parts will stay glued together after within seconds of application but it takes much longer to form a strong bond. Especially the original type can take hours or even days to completely evaporate from the plastic. This however does not mean you cannot continue working on the model. It is perfectly possible to continue working only after a couple of minutes. You just have to be careful when handling the glued parts.
Is the Quick Setting Type Better?
The Tamiya Quick Setting cement is not necessarily better than the original. It is just different and as such is suitable for different tasks. Also, modelers may have different preferences. I personally prefer the Quick Setting version because the original sometimes takes too long to cure and therefore is prone to cause ghost seam lines if the model is assembled too quickly.
The Quick Setting extra thin cement is an excellent choice for tasks where you need the plastic parts to stick together quickly. I love it for attaching small parts. It allows me to build and paint aircraft cockpits quickly and easily. I used this cement exclusively when I was building the F-14 Tomcat by Tamiya.
Although it is a quick-setting cement, it still allows for some minor alignment corrections after the cement is applied.
How Do You Use the Extra Thin Cement?
The extra thin cement is easy to use once you get the hang of it. With traditional liquid cement, you would apply the cement to a part and then you would attach it where it belongs. With extra thin cement, the steps are a bit different.
Let’s say you want to glue two halves of the fuselage together:
- Take both halves of the fuselage and press them together making sure they are properly aligned.
- Dip the brush in the cement making sure there’s not too much glue on the brush.
- Run the brush tip along the join line of the two halves.
- Capillary action will cause the cement to run between the two parts and the cement will partially melt the plastic and fuse the parts together.
- Optionally, once the cement is in the joint, you can press the halves more firmly. This will cause some of the melted plastic to run out of the joint line basically filling the resulting seam line. If done properly, there’s no need for putty.
The standard Tamiya Extra Thin can also be used as traditional cement because it takes longer to evaporate. But you have to be much quicker than with let’s say the Revell Contacta Cement.
The Quick Setting Extra Thin Cement cannot be used this way because it evaporates almost instantly giving you no chance to attach the parts where they belong.
Is the Tamiya Extra Thin Cement Toxic?
Yes, both extra-thin cement versions by Tamiya are toxic and extremely flammable liquids. Make sure you have enough ventilation in the room where you are planning to build models as the cement can easily cause headaches for some people. A good-quality respirator is a good investment for model builders. And that’s especially true when you also use an airbrush to paint your models.
In any case, you should definitely keep the cement out of reach of children. Also, if you know that you are sensitive to the chemicals the cement is made of, you should think about using latex gloves because the capillary action often causes the cement to seep from the plastic parts onto your fingers.
Does Tamiya Extra Thin Cement Create a Strong Bond?
If you leave the glued parts alone long enough before handling them again, the bond is very strong and it is in fact almost impossible to cleanly separate them again. This is due to the fact that the cement essentially melts the plastic and the parts fuse together once the chemicals evaporate.
Sometimes the joint line may crack under pressure. In the vast majority of cases, this is caused by thin plastic and it is not the cement’s fault. This can be sometimes alleviated by gluing a small piece of plastic card to the other side of the joint line. This will strengthen the bond and prevent cracking. Of course, it is not always possible to do it this way but the method works fine for fuselage halves which are sometimes prone to this problem.
Are There Better Alternatives?
A couple of years ago there were almost no alternatives to Tamiya’s extra-thin cement. But nowadays many companies dealing in the plastic scale modeling business have brought their own versions of extra thin cement.
For me personally, the best extra thin cement is still the Mr.Cement SP by Gunze, but it is in fact very similar to the Tamiya Extra Thin Quick Setting cement. However, are also other alternatives such as the AMMO of Mig Jimenez extra thin cement.
Pro tip: If you are planning to buy the original Tamiya Extra Thin, you may be able to save some money. As mentioned above, the cement is a simple mixture of butyl acetate and acetone. Curiously, Tamiya also has a product called Tamiya Airbrush Cleaner. And the airbrush cleaner is the exact same mixture of butyl acetate and acetone. Funnily enough, the 250 ml bottle of airbrush cleaner is cheaper than the 40 ml bottle of cement. Go figure. Of course, with the cleaner, you are not getting the fine brush in the lid of the bottle. A good way to save some money might be to buy one bottle of the Tamiya Extra Thin cement and then use the cleaner as a refill.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also mix your own thin cement solution. Both acetone and butyl acetate are freely available to purchase.