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Q-Lab product information and guidelines:
The demand for many products we have been developing and showing off has been vocal and persistent. But the costs and time to bring each one to market as a fully fleshed out and mass-produced product is often not justified as these are niche applications. So, to answer your calls and fill the niches, we are giving you the option to try these cool toys out for yourself the same way we are. In many casese this means 3D printed parts, cast urethane parts, or machined from blocks of plastic vs being cast. These processes are intended for low-volume production, and often the level of finish or strength doesn’t quite match properties that can be reached through mass-production. However, everything we develop and put on the Q-lab will have the required properties to work for this sport, and handle their fair share of field abuse.
Though the process to make them like this is intensive, we decided the benefit to our customers and fans cannot be ignored.
Ball-on-Deck queue system:
On a number of our magwell conversions, the geometry of the host marker prevents an optimal fit with the Zetamag. When we can’t ensure proper feeding, we employ what we call a ‘Ball-on-Deck’ queue mechanism.
This term simply means that there will be a one-round gap left between the empty magazine follower and the chamber. When the magazine has pushed out the final round, it will end up in this middle space. A flexible detent will hold this final round from falling free when the magazine is removed. By pre-loading your marker (the old-school 30+1) theory from real firearms, the round is not lost, it just has to wait for next reload. The added benefit of the detent system is that when removing a mag to check for rounds, the chances of a round falling free are greatly reduced. No matter which way you slice it, the Ball-on-Deck system is the only available workaround for many markers not natively designed for the Zetamag, but we feel from use that it is a fair tradeoff and doesn’t harm play performance.
3D printed product information:
These parts are printed, machined, trimmed, and tested individually here at the Stark Q-lab. These are not mass-production parts and everything is ‘made to order’ though in some cases small batches will be made with overrun to fill expected demand. Each product is hand-finished and in some ways unique. Some minor changes to details, finish, and fitment may occur without notice over time to increase performance, decrease finishing time, or otherwise as needed; but solid function for the mission intended will always be ensured. If there are significant feature changes or new design patterns for a given product, these will be noted.
In most cases, parts are printed first-come first-served based on when the order is placed. Allow 3-14 business days for parts to be finished and shipped. In some cases there may be small standing inventories of parts, these will be used to fulfill orders as applicable.
Precautions for handling and storing 3D printed parts from the Q-lab:
- PLA is a very strong and stiff type of polymer, popular with consumer-grade 3D printing. It generally results in more accurate, and rigid parts than other common materials such as ABS or Nylon, and it prints cleanly without odors or fumes. The tradeoff is it has a lower melting point than petroleum based polymers. At around 130’ F it will become soft and parts under pressure may deform (mag-catches with springs are of particular interest here.) Please ensure PLA parts are kept out of prolonged direct sunlight or hot areas (ie. Black asphalt in a hot summer day, on the dashboard of a car in the sun, on top of a microwave oven or stove, next to heaters, etc.)
- Due to the nature of a 3D printed part, it is often slightly weaker along the ‘grain’ of the layers, much like wood. Like wood it can crack and split along the grain under stress. When possible parts are designed to minimize weaknesses of the grain, but be aware of how this might impact your part, especially around screw hole locations, weaver-type mounts, etc.
- 3D printed parts are often printed with support structures, which have to be manually trimmed/removed to reach the final shape. For Q-lab parts, this material is cleaned up to give a presentable outward appearance, and proper functionality, however there will sometimes be uneven or ‘stringy’ areas where a surface was built on top of support material where the texture is not as preferable. These are always designed to be kept to hidden or ‘internal’ areas where possible, and any areas that affect function are cut smooth. Be aware that these are an inevitable part of this 3D printing process and do not mean the part is flawed or poorly finished.
- Sometimes ‘hairs’, ‘strands’, or small bits of support structure which are not fully removed, especially in non-critical areas or deep cavities might pop up after some handling and use. In general they are considered superfluous, don’t worry if a strand or two comes loose on an inside surface. These can be usually be trimmed or pulled free if they become a problem. But avoid getting overzealous with any sanding or trimming in areas where structural integrity or function might be affected.
Refinishing 3D printed parts
- 3D printed material can be easily trimmed with a utility knife, filed, sanded, and even in some cases ‘polished’. Because the parts are built of layers of interconnected webs of plastic, sanding alone often leaves scoring marks and off-color plastic particles trapped between layers (in black printed parts, this often gives them a whitish-grey scarred look) Washing the parts will often remove most of the off-color look.
- Washing the parts with a lot of water may sometimes ‘waterlog’ areas of the part, by seeping into small pores between layers or even into honeycomb interior. Make sure to fully dry parts before any kind of painting or refinishing work.
- Using body fillers, putties, epoxies, primers and paints will often help to seal a part and can remove most visible ‘layering’ effects with enough work. And some types of paints may even help strengthen the parts: however the parts are designed to work and function without paint, be aware of tolerance issues and the tendency for the paint to wear over time. Layering may not always look ideal but it won’t affect the function of the parts.
Warranty on 3D printed Q-lab products:
- These are not metal parts, nor are they injection molded plastic. These are made in a low-volume process by an artist in the US. Play with the parts and treat it as you would your other gear, however putting undue ‘torture tests’ on your limited-run 3D printed parts is generally not the ideal way to treat your investment. Recognize there are limits to this process and respect what the material can do and what it allows. The parts will take their share of punishment, but we cannot simply just replace your broken part after taking the weight of a full adult smashing it into a concrete floor.
- These parts are, by their nature, experimental. You might call them post-prototypes. Nothing is being offered without having been put through our own design phases, tests and evaluations; but if you are afraid to get your hands dirty, find a method that works for you, tweak a part here and there, trim or file a burr away, or otherwise have no interest in taking a part and refining it to your needs: well first, are you sure you’re playing paintball? But nevertheless, in that case it may be a better fit for you to wait in hope of a more mass-production-level version of a product. There are no guarantees that will ever happen for a given project, so some of these ‘experiments’ may be your only chance.
- If you do come up with a good ‘hack’ or mod or have design insights and changes, we’ll be glad to work with you to try it out. Who knows, maybe we’ll send you test upgrades to evaluate. Or maybe we have something else in development that would fit your idea even better.
- If the parts break or fail to function prematurely due to a bad print or workmanship, or a parts incompatibility, (mags stick or do not stay, parts prevent feeding, doesn’t fit your marker, etc) we will be able to accommodate your issues, whether with a replacement or guidance on modifying the part. But once you start playing with the Q-lab gear, you agree that it is your hands, and the fates’, to keep it going.
- If a part arrives deformed or unfitting due to handling or heat damage during shipping, please let us know promptly by providing documentation to email@example.com and we can work an exchange.