Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Using Tamiya TS paint on polycarbonate

Tamiya has a good range of colours for polycarbonate named PS. But sometimes a RC project demands a specific tone that is not available. What to do?

Using our favourite search engine revealed that it is possible to spray other types of paint over PS-55 Flat Clear. We gave it a try and the results was excellent.

We are currently working on a Tamiya Mercedes Benz DTM where the main body colour is supposed to be a bright shade of grey, almost white. The manual recommends mixing a little bit of PC-5 black into PC-1 white. The PC range of colours is long discontinued, so that was not an option.

Tamiya usually releases the same car as scale model kit. The instructions for the Mercedes stated to use Tamiya AS-20 "Insignia white". Our understanding is that the AS range is a variant of the TS plastic spray range, specially formulated for model aircraft.

Painting TS paint straight on Polycarbonate will not adhere properly. It may look fine at first, but over times the paint may flake off.

The trick is to first paint the clear body shell with a thin coat of PS-55 flat clear. This provides a slightly rough adhesive surface for the TS (or AS) paint to stick.

left: PS-55 flat clear with two coats of AS-20 Insignia White; right: three coats of PS-1 white

Before risking a semi-vintage body shell to the process, we made a test on a cut-off piece. The results were extremely promising: the AS paint adhered very well, even when bending, knocking and abusing the Polycarbonate as it would in a crash. Furthermore, the AS paint was more opaque than the standard PS-1 white so only two coats are needed for perfect covering.

Even though the AS paint gives a flat finished, the resulting paint is still glossy on the outside as the Polycarbonate material is what gives RC car shells the shiny look. If you look at the inside of a PS painted body shell, it is flat too.

The photo above shows the painted Mercedes body shell. The boot lid is PS-1 white, the main body colour AS-20. Not a big difference, but an important one to achieve a scale look of the car.

happy painting!


  1. Hi please can you offer some advice, I'm trying to achieve a military style finish in either a Matt green or olive colour! I'm struggling to find anything so may try what you have suggested if I can find one of these colours in St or As ranges! Would I still spray the inside as normal?
    Of course if you know of anywhere I can get these colours that would be great

    Thanks Matt

    1. Hi Matt! I can think of two solutions for your issue:

      You could paint the inside with Flat Clear, and then the military colors, just as I described in the article. I assume that any kind of paint should work as the Flat Clear serves as a primer where the other paint can adhere. I could imagine that even paints other than TS or AS could work, e.g. acrylics. On an off-road RC car water soluble paints could be an issue though if you intend to go through mud and water. To achieve a flat finish, you will have to paint the outside with Flat Clear too as the Polycarbonate gives any kind of paint a shiny finish by default.

      The second approach would be apply paint to the outside. First paint Flat Clear, and then the (flat) Military colors on top. The paint will be very suspect to scratches of course. To ease that I would paint the inside with a PS paint of a similar tone, e.g. a dark green. This way if the outside gets scratched, the color that shines through will cover up the scratch.

      happy painting, Werner

  2. Thanks Werner
    I'm still on the hunt for suitable colours but at least with your help I now know how to go about it once I do?!

    Thanks again Matt

  3. Thank you for a great information!