Sunday, November 1, 2015

Turning Our Attention to Post Processing

While the blog has been silent for a while, it does not mean that the interest in moving our 3D printing experience forward has been dormant.  But, sometimes it's difficult to write when time is spent in exploration and experimentation.

I have spent a great deal of time experimenting with the Infinity supports for both the Cube3 and the CubePro.  In addition, I have been exploring printing with Nylon with the CubePro.  Then there is the effort put into building our 3D ThinkLink Lab at YouthQuest.  Soon I will have great news about that.

I've also been experiment with a system that stabilizes the print table even more solidly when printing with two print jets.  It's very promising and the brave among us can print their own to attach to the print plate of the Cube3.  I don't want to release the STL file until it's been tested thoroughly over a lot of removal and insertion cycles.  Even then, it will include a warning then one MUST be very careful to ensure proper seating each time the plate is returned to the printer.  For me, however, the improvement in Z-Axis alignment is worth it.  More later on this, too. 

But, the primary reason for writing this blog post is that I think the next area of improving our 3D printing experience not only has to do with new materials like Infinity Supports and Nylon; but, with developing techniques for post processing our prints.

For this reason, I have purchased some equipment and materials with which to experiment.  But, I also found a product that promises to help all of us that print in PLA who wish for a smooth surface like that achieved by vapor processing ABS.  I don't have any as yet; but, hope to have some soon.  It's called Smooth-On XTC-3D High Performance 3D Print Coating, an epoxy coating designed especially for 3D prints.  Fortunately, Smooth-On is a very pro-active company when it comes to providing online training for their products.   So, if you go to the link above, you'll be treated to some very useful information.  Here is just one sample...

Can you imagine how nice the print would be had it been printed with Infinity Support material?  :)

But, of course, I am interested in first-hand experience when it comes to products like this before giving it a whole-hearted endorsement.  Look for my review in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, it's inexpensive enough to give it a try for yourself.

One of the first things I plan to test with it is custom Cube3 & CubePro printed phone cases.  Frankly, the ones I've tried recently haven't held up well over time.  But, I'm thinking that an epoxy coating will not only give them a better overall feel; but, improve ruggedness.  We'll see.

So, please be patient as the post-processing experiments work their course.  Whether they fail or succeed, you will hear about it.  :)


  1. Tom: I've used the XTC-3D material since early this year - done right, the results are amazing. Carefully mixing it (both quantity and stirring) need to be as directed. I wear nitrile gloves - the stuff is pretty sticky. Don't put it on too thick or it can run, and do let it fully cure. I'll send you some pictures of some 3D printed seagulls flying out of a wall sculpture that were finished with this system. The sculptor had only a few weeks to finish a large display and using animation software (to model the bird in different flight positions), 3D printing and smooth finishing (with a final coat of paint) and what might have taken several months of hand work was accomplished in 3 weeks! ;-)

    1. That would be great!

      Have you tried it on a powder based print?

  2. Tom;

    Great teasers in this post.

    Both subjects are very interesting and timely.

    I looked into the Smooth-on product and found that I have a XTC-3d Smooth-on distributor within walking distance of my location. And they have stock!

    Will be testing the Smooth-On product on some prints within the hour.

    I am very interested in getting my hands on the STL file for the stabilizing system that you have found as soon as possible.The stability is much better but what you are talking about sounds like what we need - Infinity supports, finishing without acetone,nylon - what's next?

    Good to have you back at it - doing the digging for us.

    I will let you know how my post processing test go as soon as I can.

    And by the way I to have been having an issue with the Cubify app finding my Cube printer and the syncing process. I have spoken with 3D Systems about this and they say that they are looking into this and hope to have a fix soon - updates are coming!

    Keep on keeping on and we will talk soon.


    1. I've been swamped trying to complete the Moment of Inspiration series for YouthQuest and getting the lab set up. I will put the stabilizers up soon.

      I always enjoy hearing from you!