Experiences with the print and paint remover DLE-90 by LUX-Modellbau (art.no. 9001)
For more than 30 years, model vehicle manufacturers have enhanced their
products with more or less sophisticated prints - which is a good thing as these
prints often make a model look more realistic. The collector's joy however is
the modeller's sorrow. If you want to modify (e.g. paint or alter) a miniature
model in order to create something different, these prints are usually in your
way. Fortunately, German company LUX-Modellbau promises a remedy: their print
and paint remover DLE-90.
Not at all a new release to the modelling market, DLE-90 has been the subject of some lively discussions in various internet forums for a while. While some simply call it 'magic' others condemn it as being too aggressive - obviously when it had some unwanted side effects on their beloved miniature models. Well, we wanted to find out ourselves - and this is our report.
According to the bright yellow label on the little brown bottle (which is filled with a clear liquid) the product is recommended for cleaning and restoring patinated model cars and railways, removal of unwanted prints, paint layers and chrome applications as well as for the removal of paint residues from model glazing etc. The label text is in German; we ordered DLE-90 from a German online retailer and received an instruction leaflet in German and English together with the product. The leaflet also contains some safety advice, but neither the label on the bottle nor the accompanying leaflet reveal the active ingredient(s) of DLE-90 - no wonder that it has got an almost mystical reputation of being miraculous...
Well, it wasn't our goal anyway to conduct scientific analyses under laboratory conditions - we just wanted to find out if DLE-90 could become an asset to our well-equipped model workshop. While we have not been able to find any retailers in the UK, German dealers ask for approximately 7 - 9 Euros (plus postage) for a 30ml bottle (also available: 100ml, 1,000ml, 5,000ml). According to the manufacturer, a few drops should be sufficient to achieve satisfying results - therefore even the small bottle should allow you to treat a lot of models before you would have to reorder the product...
While we can think of a big variety of cleaning, print and paint removal tasks, we wanted to focus on the following, probably very common material combinations:
Again, this is not a standardised product test, we are just telling you our experiences with the print and paint remover.
1. Prints on plastic surface
While LUX-Modellbau recommends to 'put some drops of
DLE-90 on a soft tissue and rub off the inscriptions or the paint with slight
pressure', we used a cotton bud instead which allowed us a more targeted
application of the solution. Within half a minute or so, the black post horn
symbol had disappeared from the yellow plastic box. This was our very first
trial, and we were really chuffed with the result, especially the effortlessness
made a big impression upon us.
The plastic surface was just as glossy as before, and the hardly visible marks which remained where once the post horn symbol had been were obvious signs of the chemical reaction that had taken place when the printing ink had been initially applied many years ago.
2. Prints on painted plastic surface
Next test object was a golden plastic container with big
black letter prints. The container had been spray-painted by the
model manufacturer before being printed with big black letters. One of them - we
chose the letter 'I' - should be removed, and probably due to its size it took a
bit longer till it was gone. But we still did not have to work hard to get it
While the golden paint itself was not affected by our treatment with DLE-90, some smudged black residue could be seen temporarily (even in our photo on the right), probably due to the sheer amount of printing ink - more than the cotton bud could take at once. That's probably why LUX-Modellbau recommends to polish the treated area thoroughly afterwards.
3. REVELL enamel paint on plastic surface
This time, we wanted to find out how well DLE-90 works as
a paint remover. We took an old model car chassis which had obviously been
target of our early experiments: More than 20 years ago, we had applied some REVELL
paint and never went near it again. Well, while we were still debating whether
we should steep the painted plastic part in a bowl filled with DLE-90 overnight,
REVELL's enamel paint had given up already (within a minute!) and moved to the
cotton bud instead!
As you can see in our photo below, there was still some reworking to be done, but once more, we were really impressed. With these qualities, the print and paint remover could really prove very useful in future emergency situations on our workbench!
4. Prints on model glazing
To be honest, we had little hope that printing ink could be removed completely from see-through plastic. Nevertheless, DLE-90 did a fantastic job again within seconds. However, the ink had obviously reacted with the glazing when it was applied and close inspection reveals these marks (depending on light conditions, viewing angle etc.). To us, this is no spot of bother though.
5. Chrome applications on plastic surface
To make this very short: Even chrome applications could not resist LUX-Modellbau's print and paint remover and disappeared within 30 seconds completely without a trace.
At the end of our little series of experiments, the liquid level in the brown bottle did not seem to have changed. Therefore, efficiency is another positive feature of the product. By the way, we wore latex gloves while working with DLE-90 (although you will not find any corresponding safety warnings on the label or the leaflet). Furthermore (as advised), we did not inhale the fumes nor did we eat, drink or smoke while handling the print and paint remover. As a result, we felt well and happy all the time!
German manufacturer LUX-Modellbau offers an efficient value-for-money product for keen modellers which is absolutely easy to use as well. We never managed to take the print and paint remover DLE-90 to its limits, no task seemed too demanding, and we were nothing but stunned by the effortlessness when removing even some decades-old print and paint layers. However, just like the manufacturer, we would recommend to test the product on some less visible parts of your model first - you cannot be careful enough when it comes to objects of high financial or sentimental value! As the product leaves nothing to be desired, our final verdict had to be 'highly recommended'.