3D PRINT FINISHING

When a 3D print completes printing, it seldom looks like a refined and finished item, from support material that needs to be removed to rough edges that need to be smoothed, quite a bit of work is required to make a 3D print look acceptable.

Here is a quick guide of how I finish my 3D prints to look less like 3D printed items and more like professionally produced commercial products.

Let us first look at the tools I use in the finishing process:

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Wire Cutting Pliers and Long Nose Pliers – These are useful when removing support material from 3D prints.

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Wire Brushes – Perfect for a first pass cleanup on newly printed items to remove any stringing and excess material.

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Needle Files – Useful for smoothing rough spots on prints, especially in small confined areas.

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Craft Knives – To remove any stubborn unwanted material from 3D prints.

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Model Sanding Block – For standing confined areas of 3D prints.

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Heated 3D Print Finishing Tool – Perfect for removing stringing and extra material from 3D prints.

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Sand Paper – Used for general smoothing of 3D prints. It is best to wet sand 3D prints as it prevents the print from melting and getting ruined by the heat created from sanding friction.

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Wood Filler – Used to fill any unwanted gaps and holes in 3D prints.

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Spray Paint Primer – This is used to prime 3D prints for painting. Priming also hides small imperfections on 3D prints. Use a primer that is plastic friendly.

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Model Paint and Brushes – I like Tamiya model paint and brushes, but any model paint supplies should work great.

Now let us look at the finishing process.

Step 1: Select a model and 3D print it.

It is very important to note that the better your 3D printer is maintained and configured, the better the end results will be. Here is an example of the same model 3D printed and finished. The first was printed before I replaced my hot end and did some basic maintenance on my 3D printer (the nozzle was worn, and the heater cartridge started giving issues, I also tightened the belts). The second was printed after I completed the replacement and maintenance.

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The print lines in the first print are clearly visible, even after sanding, while the second model has a smooth finish even with minimal sanding.

Step 2: Remove support material, initial sanding, and filler.

Using wire brushes to do a quick pass over the 3D print to remove any excess material, then sand model using wet sanding method (using sandpaper and water). When sanding the 3D print, start standing with coarse-grit sandpaper (60 grit) and work down to a finer grit (220 grit). Finally, fill any gaps using wood filler.

Step 3: Final Sanding.

When the wood filler has dried, go over the print one final time with very fine grit sandpaper (400 grit).

Step 4: Priming the 3D print

When spraying the 3D print with primer, it is important to hold the spray can at least 30cm away from the 3D print and do long even passes over the model, starting and ending each pass to the side of the 3D print and not directly on the print as it will result in droplets forming.

Step 5: Painting the 3D print

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After the primer has completely dried, it is time to paint the model as desired. Using a wethering technique like black-washing brings out the detail of 3d prints amazingly. Black-washing is done by mixing black (or dark color) paint with some paint thinners, then painting all over the model, putting particular focus on getting the paint into all the nooks and crannies on the print. Then finally wiping away most of the paint with some paper towel. This gives the model a weathered realistic look.

Step 6: Done!

And finally, display your newly created item with pride.

3D PRINT FINISHING

BOOK REVIEW – EVERY TOOL’S A HAMMER: LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT BY ADAM SAVAGE

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Every tool’s a hammer is an amazing and slightly strange book, being a part how-to guide, part biography, and part philosophical. In short, it is a book about the journey Adam Savage undertook to become a maker.

The story starts with Adam’s first creations as a child, then continues through his time as a theater set builder to working for Industrial Lights and Magic, to Mythbusters and eventually becoming one of the worlds best-known celebrity Makers.

Throughout this illustrious career, Adam’s philosophies of learning and gaining additional skills is very apparent, showing the true value of being a polymath, something I also strive for personally. Except for collecting skills, Adam is also a collector of things, these things range vastly in category and type, from film props to Curta calculators, he has a genuine love for these objects and the stories they carry with them.

The book also has various how-to sections, covering things like different kinds of glues and their uses, to tools, to workshop setup and different crafting materials.

I found Every tool’s a hammer to be an inspiring book that fueled my creative flame and filled me with the need to start making something new. This book is a must-read for any fans of Adam Savage and Makers of any kind.

BOOK REVIEW – EVERY TOOL’S A HAMMER: LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT BY ADAM SAVAGE

Book Review – The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch

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The Maker Movement Manifesto is an interesting look into the Maker Movement by Mark Hatch, the CEO and cofounder of TechShop a popular maker space.

It starts out by defining the Maker Movement Manifesto which is broken down into 9 points:

  • Make
  • Share
  • Give
  • Learn
  • Tool up
  • Play
  • Participate
  • Support
  • Change

This is interesting and explains everything from the values underlying the movement to how to set up a maker space in your own community, however what was of more interest to myself was the following sections where numerous stories were relaid about success stories of makers developing their passions into successful businesses from within TechShop.

The book covers not only the Maker Movement from an internal perspective, but also the far wider reaching socio-economic impacts of giving anyone access to the tools, knowledge and abilities to make things for themselves, be that anything from a proof of concept to a product to art. It looks at how this wider access to these facilities accelerates innovation, democratizes tools/equipment and information and creates a new breed of person, what is referred to as a pro-am, a professional amateur. And how this mindset change might be better suited to addressing the challenges the world is experiencing today.

I really enjoyed The Maker Movement Manifesto, and found it to be inspiring, it really got my Maker juices flowing. So if you are a Maker or interested in the Movement give this book a try.

Book Review – The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch

Dev Day 2016

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On the Tuesday 27 September 2016 the first Dev Day occurred in Johannesburg South Africa. Dev Day is best described on their twitter page as “A community-owned and driven gathering of technologists, investors, hobbyists, engineers, artists, students and anyone with a strong sense of curiosity”. And I was invited to showcase some of the robots I have been working on. The event was extremely well organised with various people and Maker groups showcasing what they were working on as well as numerous speakers including Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin). I really enjoyed the event and the experience of showing some of my work and the feedback and questions I received were amazing. It really was a great experience getting to talk and interact with similarly minded people. Many thanks to the organisers for a great event, hopefully one of many to come.

Here are some photos of my stand and the event.

Dev Day 2016