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Photo Etch Tools for Modelers

Quality photo etch tools are important, and so is technique.

If you’ve been around the scale modeling world for awhile, you may remember when photo-etch first made its appearance in the hobby world. One of the first lines of model kits to feature photo-etch parts was the HiTech series from Monogram.

One of the first kits requiring the use of photo etch tools.

In those days, the Xuron® 440 PET Shear was all you needed to remove and trim PE parts. I used my 440 PET for years and during that time both the detail level in model kits and that of the photo-etch evolved. The 440 PET was a good tool, but there was also a need for something to keep pace with the advanced products photo-etch manufacturers were producing.

In those early days you might get a dozen or so parts on a fret of photo-etch. Today it could be a hundred or more. I wanted a tool that could handle the challenge of removing these ever-so-delicate PE parts from the fret, as well as the capacity to trim PE parts when necessary without inflicting any damage. So I teamed up with Xuron Corp. to come up with the 9180ET Professional Photo-Etch Scissor.

Its long, sharp jaw allows you to remove small, delicate parts cleanly, without bending or twisting them. The precision design allows cutting along the full length of the scissors jaw. You can literally trim a hair’s width off a piece of PE without damaging the part you are trimming. This is something that continues to amaze everyone who sees our demonstration at modeling events across the country.

This level of performance is what I, as a modeler, demanded and the 9180ET delivers. Combine a great tool with solid techniques and you’ll be able to master the removal and trimming of photo-etch parts, the first step of using PE in your scale modeling project.

Speaking of technique, we see so many who remove PE parts with difficulty, trying to cut the PE parts from the fret in the same manner as you would cut plastic parts off the sprue. This will bend your photo-etch. Don’t cut from the top down, but keep the cutting surface closer to parallel with the photo-etch, as if you were cutting a piece of paper or a decal from a decal sheet with a scissor.

Quality photo etch tools are important, and so is technique.
Technique is important when working with photo-etch. Note the cutting angle.

To make working with PE easy, Xuron has released the TK3600 Professional Photo-Etch Tool Kit. It includes the #9180ET Pro PE Scissor, #450 Tweezernose™ Plier and our latest addition, the #575 Micro Bending Plier, which will give you a perfect 90° bend in your small photo-etch parts. Ask for it today at your favorite hobby retailer.


Gerald Voigt

Gerald’s involvement with the scale modeling hobby dates back to his preteen years. Since then he has been involved in just about every aspect of the hobby…IPMS chapter president, product manufacturing, marketing, technical advisor, design engineer, wholesale and retail sales and most recently a hobby advocate and brand ambassador representing Xuron Corp. His initial relationship with Xuron started when he approached us with a product idea, which led to the successful development of two of the most popular tools Xuron produces for scale modelers…the 2175ET Pro Sprue Cutter and the 9180ET Pro PE Scissors.


  1. I have been using the PE shears (both types) since they were first released, and there is no better tool for removing photo-etch items from their fret. I do have a question that no one has been able to answer though. I attended a Model Expo in Chicago a number of years ago, and the Xuron booth had a pair of what is now the 9180 that folks could try out. Back then, you could not purchase items at the show, but as soon as I could order the shears, it was the 440 PET that was available. It took several years before the 9180 was made available, which in my opinion is the better tool of the two. I have just been curious how the 440 came to be released first, and why the long delay between it and the 9180?

    • HI Scott, that’s a good question!
      I know for fact that the 9180ET was developed and introduced several years after the 440PET. The 9180ET came about as collaboration between Xuron Corp and Gerald Voigt (author of this blog post). Gerald had been using 440PET but felt he could improve upon it,and he did. Our Model 9180 (which might be what you saw at iHobby) is the parent tool of the 9180ET and was in existance before we developed the 9180ET.
      The tool you saw at iHobby was the 9180 but not the same variation that is now known as the 9180ET (this is my best assumption). I’m going to pass your comment on to Gerald, his memory might be better than mine. Thank you!! – Abby

    • Scott if you attended the iHobby Expo in Chicago within the last five years or so, you probably did see the 9180ET Pro Photo Etch Shear when visiting the Xuron booth. It has always been marketed and sold as a tool exclusively for use in the removal, cutting and trimming of photo etch parts. Though I do know some modelers who use a pair for trimming decals, especially those printed on heavier than normal paper stock. Happy Modeling!

  2. Abby and Gerald,

    Thanks for the responses! Actually, I first used a tool at the Xuron booth that resembled the 9180ET before the 440 PET was released. This was far more than five years ago, and either late in the 90’s or early in the 00’s. Anyway, I was just puzzled as to why the 440 PET was released as your initial photo etch tool when there was a longer nose cutter in your stable. In the end, I have owned and utilized both tools, but since purchasing the 9180 have not really touched the 440.

    Keep up the great work that you folks do, and I will continue to use and enjoy all of my Xuron tools!

  3. Hello,

    I just found out about your products while needing a tool to cut Metal Earth parts from their tree. I love the quality of your tools. I ordered mine through Amazon. Is there a list of retailers that carry your products, so I could go visit one near me?

    Thank you,

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