Post-processing in Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing refers to the steps taken after the printing process to improve the printed object's appearance, functionality, or properties. Here are some standard post-processing methods for FDM 3D prints:
If your print includes support structures, they need to be removed carefully. This can be done using pliers, cutting tools, or specific support removal tools.
Sanding and Smoothing:
Sanding the surface of the printed object can help eliminate layer lines and rough edges. Progressively finer grit sandpaper can be used to achieve a smoother finish.
Priming and Painting:
Applying a primer to your 3D print before painting can improve adhesion and make a more even finish. Painting is a standard method to add colour and aesthetics to your prints.
Filling and Bondo:
For larger imperfections or gaps, you can use filler putty or automotive-grade Bondo to smooth out surfaces. After application and drying, sand the area for a seamless finish.
Acetone Vapor Smoothing (for ABS prints):
Acetone vapor smoothing is a technique specifically for ABS prints. Exposing ABS prints to acetone vapors can help melt and smooth the outer layers, reducing layer lines and creating a glossy finish. This should be done in a well-ventilated area.
Applying a thin layer of epoxy resin can provide a smooth and glossy finish to the printed object. This can also enhance the durability and strength of the print.
Dyeing and Staining:
Coloring the filament before printing or applying dyes/stains post-printing can add vibrancy to the finished object. This is often used for decorative items.
Small parts can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner, which uses high-frequency sound waves to remove debris and uncured resin from the surface of the print.
Various surface treatments, such as coating with speciality paints, can be applied to achieve specific properties like UV resistance, water resistance, or fire resistance.
Some prints can be electroplated with metal coatings for a metallic appearance or enhanced conductivity.
Decals and Surface Detailing:
Adding decals, stickers, or surface detailing with additional materials can enhance the appearance and convey specific details on the printed object.
When implementing post-processing techniques, it's essential to consider the material used for printing, as different materials may require specific methods. Always follow safety guidelines, especially when using chemicals or tools, and test any post-processing method on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire print.