OK SO YOU'VE GOT YOUR 3D PRINTED MODEL, SO NOW WHAT?

5 Easy steps for post-processing

  1. POST-PROCESSINGThe Rapid Prototyping machine will process the .STL by creating a sliced layer data of the model. The machine fabricates in layers of 0.1/0.12mm material, one layer on top of another (taller models in the z direction take longer than those wider in the xy plane). Whilst a 3D printer uses inkjet print-heads, an SLS machine uses lasers.
  2. On being printed, many 3D Prints require de-powdering and strengthening by infiltrating the parts with wax. This is where you need to be careful as the thinner parts will be very fragile.
  3. Specific to SLS: the model is formed within a block of powder, allow for cooling before the parts are broken out of the powder block by hand and then shot-blasted to remove excess powder. Post-production of an SLS model is where most time is taken.
  4. Post-processing clean up and strengthening of the model.
a) Remove supports
Usually by hand or cutters if the material is insoluble
OR
Dissolve in water by filling a bowl and placing your soluble model in until
The best thing to do is plan your support mechanism before printing, making it easier to remove during post-processing, giving a cleaner finish.
 b) For rough surface textures carefully sand
It’s the cheapest solution but can take a lot of time and effort, especially when you have fine detail
c) Paint
After sanding, spray paint gives a smooth, even finish. Make sure the surface is primed to pick up a more enhanced colour finish.
d) Electro-plating
Used with thermoplastics like ABS (this is what lego is made from). ABS models can achieve a high quality professional finish and strengthened parts from electro-plating. This process is usually outsourced and quite pricey but can achieve metallic finishes, for example gold, silver, copper.
e) Glue - Gluing 2 parts together or parts that have broken during the process have a couple of options that I’ve found work best:
3D Prints (like PLA)
Glue: Araldite two-part epoxy resin adhesive
 
SLS
Glue: Araldite or CA glue
Finish works best with spray paint


5. For a site model, it’s best to create the base separately in MDF/Card/Plywood and then 3D print the models and attach. This is cheaper and quicker and doesn’t compromise on quality.