3D Printing post processes – Part 1

3D printing itself is an art of creating wonders of intricate designs, but why stop there?

Finishing Techniques: All about the post processing

3D practitioners who have mastered the post processing techniques and are wizards with printed polymers are highly regarded in the field. Printed pieces can be treated to produce parts that accurately mimic the objective such as metals and stones.

3D printed wizard
3D Printed in FDM and colored.

The domain of finishing techniques (post processes) is the craftsman’s workshop, where patience, tools, skills, and experience can transform the raw products of these machines into fully realized models. With more skilled hands and creativity minds joining the ranks, these additional actions after the printing are not just cosmetic anymore.In order to fulfill the desired results, it is important to understand the characteristics of your printed parts. Then select the processes most relevant to your case and add your own touch of creativity!

PolyJet 3D printed models generally have a smooth surfaces and fine feature details direct from the printer, and readily accept off-the-shelf acrylic spray paints and lacquers. The different photopolymers that Polyjet each produces their own characteristics, but in general, avoid long exposure to high temperature treatment (except color dying and baking). Intricate details of Polyjet parts also should not be subjected to high stress, so do handle with care.

Legacy Effect 3D printed Character
Legacy Effect 3D printed Character was painted and touched up to achieve a realism level for film industry.

Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology produces models in production-grade thermoplastics, and is therefore able to live up to the engineering properties of your known plastics. With a FDM part, you can sand, drill, glue and paint just as you would any plastic part. Bond 3D printed parts together to grow beyond the build envelope. Expose ABS to Acetone to exploit its intrinsic chemical properties and smooth it out by having the layers gel together.

While on a personal scope, these processes may be limited to smoothing, painting and bonding, printed parts on industrial level are undergoing much more value-added post processes. Those processes include techniques such as electro-plating, sealing, chemical treatment, composite layup and more. Those added touch adds strength, durability, form and function to the printed pieces and may open a whole new world of applications for 3D printed parts!

 

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