Smoothing 3D Printed Parts - Polymaker Polywood and Acetone

 A few days ago, I read a post on the 3D Printing Facebook group from Steve McGarr where he shared a beautiful print of an Einstein bust that was baby butt smooth.  To my surprise, he said that it was simply acetone vapor polished Polymaker Polywood.   

Polymaker Polywood is a modified foamed PLA filament.  This means that it is a PLA with a porous structure.  The idea is that as you print, little bubbles in the filament pop, giving a rough woodlike surface. We've carried this filament for a few years.  I've printed a number of parts with it, but it never caught my attention in a way that made it a regular runner on my printers.  That all changed today.  

I decided to see if I could replicate the results from that Facebook post and I had amazing results.  

About safety:  I used a flash vapor polishing process with acetone in a heated vessel because I am impatient.  It was done outside away from anything else flammable and I wore proper protective gear, but it was a dangerous and probably a stupid way to do it.  I advise that if you are looking to replicate this process that you consider a cold vapor process.  This guy seems to have a reasonably safe method.  

About the model:  My family just got a new puppy.  A chihuahua named Charlie who is sitting on my lap as I write this.  I wanted something for my kids to paint, so I looked on thingiverse and found this model.  Chihuahua_Printaliser by Printaliser licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial license.  

Charlie, the pup that inspired the print.

Our new puppy, Charlie.

Here are my before and afters.  

About my Process:  This was printed on an Ultimaker 2+ with a 0.6mm nozzle, 0.15mm layer height.  3 shells, zero infill, and concentric external fill.  Sliced with Simplify3D.  Polywood filament at 190C, 40C glass bed coated with dilute wood glue.  The model was then flash acetone vapor smoothed.

Before Vapor Polishing Print

Before vapor polishing 

 Before vapor polishing zoomed in on the layers

After vapor polishing

After Zoomed In

 After Vapor Polishing Zoomed In

 




Matthew Gorton
Matthew Gorton

Author

Matthew Gorton is the founder of printedsolid.com. He is a mechanical / materials engineer by education and has worked as a design, process and quality engineer in the medical, electronics, and aerospace industries. He is enthusiastic about applying all he has learned through these experiences to 3D printing and sharing that with others.



1 Response

Steve Mc
Steve Mc

March 24, 2017

Glad to have inspired you :0)
It is a interesting material that gets overlooked.

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