How to Give Your 3D Printed FDM Part the Smoothness of Injection Molding

This tutorial will demonstrate how you can give your FDM printed part the finishing smoothness of injection molding.

The Finishing Touch Smoothing Station can dramatically improve the surface finish of ABS parts that are built using FDM technology. The semi-automated smoothing process is compatible with FDM’s entire line of ABS plastics.

  1. Step 1: Materials

    What you will need:

    * Finishing Touch Smoothing Station

    * Sandpaper (optional)

    * Media blaster (optional)

  2. Step 2: Cooling

    Start by hanging your FDM printed part in the cooling chamber for about 15-20 minutes.

  3. Step 3: Smoothing

    Once cooled, add your part to the smoothing chamber for 10 to 30 seconds where the warm gaseous solution can condense on the cool part, sheet down the part, and smooth the surface.

    Primary coolant coils collect excessive solution and recycle it. Secondary coils are used to cool the part in the cooling chamber as well as add a second layer of safety by preventing any vapor from escaping the unit.

  4. Step 4: Cooling Again

    Hang your part back into the cooling chamber to cure. This chamber is vented to the outside for safety. This process can be repeated multiple times until the desired finish is achieved.

  5. Step 5: Hardening

    Allow the part to cool for 15-20 minutes between applications. The part’s surface will be hardened after an hour and a half and it will be fully cured after 12-18 hours. This machine was designed to work with parts built on any Stratasys FDM system up to the Fortus 400mc.

  6. Step 6: Sanding

    Sanding can be used in combination with the Finishing Touch Smoothing Station to speed up the smoothing process. With this combination of finishing techniques, an injection molded surface can be achieved on any part.

  7. Step 7: Media Blasting (Optional)

    If a matte surface finish is desired, an optional media blasting step can be used. The surface can be varnished in a media blasting cabinet, producing a matte luster.

  8. Step 8: Finished Parts

    Finished parts can be used for investment casting patterns, painted or electroplated, or any other application that requires a high resolution surface finish.

  9. Step 9: Conclusion

    Using The Finishing Touch Smoothing Station is a great way to polish your FDM parts to near injection-molded quality with minimal operator intervention.