As popular and captivating 3D printing may be, it can be pretty time taking at times. From CAD modeling to actual printing, it can take days before you can start using your printer for practical purposes. Even after the print has finished and the model is off the printer bed, a number of things must be done in order to achieve the required results.
In this article, we discuss all the operations that one might have to perform after a model has been 3D printed.
The need for such finishing processes arises due to a number of factors inherent to 3D printing. The primary factor is the presence of supports in a print. To ensure good quality and strength during printing, the 3D printer adds a few supports to the print while creating it. These must be removed after the printing process has ended.
Other reasons for post-processing include further finishing, aesthetics, or improving structural integrity.
Listed below are some of the main post-processing techniques used in 3D printing.
- Support material is removed from the print using sharp-edged tools or tweezers, or it is completely dissolved in a chemical bath. This is a necessity as the supporting material is not a part of the design and it is only there to add strength to the structure during printing.
- Smoothening the surface is always necessary to give it a good look. As a 3D printer creates the model layer by layer, individual layers are visible in the end-product. The crude look they give must be finished by smoothening out the layers. This is done by a filing accessory such as sandpaper.
- Glue Coating is applied on the surface to strengthen the print. In some techniques, this must be done as the filament alone is not tough enough to bear general mechanical loads.
- Hardening by UV exposure is required with techniques such as DLP and SLS. If this hardening process is not performed, the print would be susceptible to cracking and failure.
- Painting for cosmetic purposes is often done on 3D printed objects.
- Polishing is also commonly done to obtain an eye-catching glossy finish.
Apart from these techniques, experts do many other things with their 3D prints after detaching them from the bed. Since 3D prints are used for innumerable applications, one must devise their own post-processing methods suited to their exact needs.
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