Understanding 3D Printing Surface Finishes

3D printing is an umbrella of technologies that creates parts by fusing them together from a smaller substance to a larger substance. What you see out of this is different surface finishes per technology, I want to demystify what to expect when you order parts in different 3d printing processes in this video we're gonna talk about SLA metal 3d printing for DMS, FDM, SLS and multi jet fusion. So stay tuned as I mentioned before. This is all about 3d printed surface finishes.

So I'm going to highlight six. Technologies in this video, FDM, SLS, Polymer, SLA, HP motion fusion and direct metal. Laser sintering as you can see here, the surface finish is very greatly. And the reason why is each one of these is made in a different type of manufacturing process? So 3d printing is an umbrella of technologies it's just something to understand that they have strengths and trade-offs between each technology, AFDM extrudes parts out through a filament.

So basically layering by layering with an extruded plastic filament. Abs Alton polycarbonate, these materials can be made using fused deposition modeling and making your parts in those actual thermoplastics where SLS multi jet fusion. These two in the middle they're, using nylon as their base material, and both have a similar outcome where parts are fused together with that nylon material, but they have different ways of doing that fusion. Either way the surface finish is typically matte from the get-go. So you have kind of that, matte almost like a fine sugar cube type. Finish to it and more of a medium level, finish Polymer, you see some steadiness back and forth and that's because it's ink jet it and deposited layer by layer with tiny micro droplets.

You have some unique material properties that you could get from that SOA is cured in a that. So you're, actually creating a vat of liquid using a laser to selectively cure where the SLA parts are you get more of a smoother surface finish from it. In this case, probably the smoothness of anywhere more technologies and.

Then direct metal laser centering another powder bed process, so like SLS, multi jet fusion direct metal. Laser sintering also has that orange peel Ayala's circuit cube like finish to it. So do you not expect smooth expect that matte across the part diving deeper into this? What can I do with these materials so let's focus on our general purpose materials. First so I'm going to go we can focus on our powder by diffusion, nylon materials with SLS nylon I can do things like tint the material in this case. You see that green tint on the part, naturally, it comes out white, so I, don't need support structure on this.

So I'm going to have a similar surface on the front and back I know what this camera it's hard to see white. But just believe me, it's stark white here. Let's take a look at the green to show that surface finish and more commonly. You may actually see parts dyed black and a lot of cases where actually media tumble and dyed black dyeing black these parts multi jet fusion. You have your natural.

Finishes so this is unfilled. And this is glass filled that's. The less has a glass. Well, very that's a little more of a beige color. But you can see here that the outcomes are basically the same as far as surface finish goes between the variations of materials and that's because there's an outer edging compound in the process that kind of gives that hybrid gray. Look.

We also can dye this material black. And this would this has actually been shot blasted and dyed black. So you have a nice kind of.

Crisp black look to it something to note is that between these two materials here, if I took a knife and scraped, the black dye nylon part for SLS they'll, come out stark white because that's where that's what the base material is. And when you're dying you're only penetrating about a quarter millimeter in where this material for multi jet fusion, there's, an inking compound, that's black by its nature. And when I cut into this part, it will be black underneath, so sometimes I'm looking for something. That's going to be a brace like I know, it's going to be a rough roughed up, or it may fall down and some gravel maybe I'm going to make my part in multi jet fusion. So that when it does get scraped, it won't have this bright white scrape mark against it. When I think about these I think about the middle range and that's, why I want to start with these because they tend to be commoditized not, but they don't have super high resolution to them, and they also aren't too coarse either. So your middle range is.

Going to be these powder bed fusion, plastics, like s, less nylon or multi jet fusion, let's move, and I'm going to keep one of these comparisons here, I'm just going to keep that green one, because it shows really nicely, and I'm going to move these away and let's talk about FDM. So FDM is our most coarse looking material, and I'm going to show you a few variations of FDM here. So we have many colors specs.

We have 16 colors available for you for fused deposition modeling. And of course, I have two black parts here. So. You can't tell too much of the difference here, but you can see that the top layer tends to have that zigzag, look and contoured layers will have more of that stair stepping through if I'm making a part that is larger.

So larger than 14 inches. I will sometimes take my layers and move from 10,000 to 13,000 an inch that's because I have to move to a larger platform. So we have a platform that builds up to 16 inches.

And we have a platform that builds up to 36 inches. When I move from ten thousand. Thirteen thousand stairs, you're going to see more of a broader stair step on any of these gradual contours, it's really important to know that because sometimes use large parts so say, I'm, making a fender feature for a car frame. You have contours everywhere. So one of these faces is going to have more of a rough peak where it's going to be the upward face of those parts again, I have my SLS part for comparison to show the contrast between kind of the middle range SLS and our FDM pieces.

In this case. This is a dark gray, a is and a 13,000 slayer. So kind of from the most coarse 3d printed material to our middle range. 3D printing material, let's, keep this on board here and let's move to some of our photo polymers. So I'm going to take these guys out I will bring in our Polymer piece back. So we have some Polymer very, clear, material, and I'm also going to bring in a couple variations of SLA pieces to show you the difference between our different finish options.

So Polymer, again, crease creates parts with. Micro droplets to it so it's going to have that little of streak to it. And you may see more of a matte semi layered edge to it and that's, just that layer by layer process as well as how the part is supported, which is a gel-like support structure with SLA I have a gloss like upper level on my natural finish. So these parts are actually built as if they were built on this table here from the bond to the top that liquid resin when cured essentially puddled there or has that puddle like effect, Even though it's completely rigid, and you see that gloss that being said, when I do a strip and ship finish or a natural finish and I have this natural facing up any little imperfection, which is inherent in some of these builds will show so that nice gloss is interrupted by that little tiny imperfection there and there's nothing wrong with the part, but something to consider. If you aren't choosing a natural description ship is, you tend to get a little of the benefit of the polish, but depending.

On your orientation, you may also see wildly different surface finishes, especially when it comes to the supported side and the naturally built side. So a lot of times I will actually go and use this standard, matte finish so side by side. This is the same part, same build orientation. Matte finish versus that. Natural finish this is black ABS like SLA material. And that matte finish gives an even look consistently, consistently throughout the part.

So it's, very important to know that matte typically use. Your best bet with SLA, if you're looking for consistency, because bringing it up to that nice, little bead blast. Finish is going to make sure that all my edges. Look exactly the same I. Did want to know with Polymer.

So Polymer I can do a couple different finishes here. So let's put our three up here right now. Poly jet I can manipulate materials.

So I have rubber like materials note that they look almost identical surface. Finish wise. But you can see here. This is my Shore, a twenty-seven, super squishy.

Rubber like, and this is a store a ninety much, much stiffer to manipulate, but it still has rubber like properties to it. These are made on the same platform, it's actually a digital matrix of rigid rubber like materials to make these features. So poly Jets benefit is I could digitally manipulate the material to get a property where parts like FDM. Our boutique builds based off that material alone like ABS. Ult em polycarbonate, I am building a build just to make that blue red yellow building a build. Just to make that where this you could do multiple different finishes, including a multi material part in a single bill of poly jet. So I'm going to bring back my SL ax.

So now we have Polymer SLS FDM and SLA, again course, medium rage, pretty good and probably the smoothness of the natural finished parts. I want to show you some specialized finishing though, so you understand from our polymers side, what you can get out of these different processes. So the first one is our specialized finish for SLS. Nylon which is nickel plating. This is actually a buildup of nickel on top of the part. So there's a slight layer of copper.

And then most of this is nickel, and you're talking about for thousands of inches still about a sheet of paper, a little less than a sheet of papers more than bill it up. But notice that this is not a cosmetic look, you know, it's brighter because of the coal content, but it is not glossy it's actually exaggerating the ridges on the SLS part. So those layer lines you could clearly. See here with that nickel plating is meant to give the part more mechanical strength when you're applying it to 3d printing. So it's trying to say, for example, I'm making a park that I want more metal like properties. But I have a geometry that just screams please leave the 3d print me in SLS because I'm too complex to mill, or even maybe cost prohibitive to grow in direct metal centering something else a note is with nickel plated parts.

You may see a little copper nubs and that's. When you don't have any place to rack, so you're, actually, drilling make a little hook with copper. So you could dip it into the electroplating bath just something to be aware of if you don't have a natural feature like little eye hook on your part Ra's, a part, it was built using fused deposition modeling. So these same processes here, but note that this part was built vertically, so it's, getting that sidewall, nice, linear shape and getting a much smoother part. Then this feature so say, I'm, Building something that's larger, and I have text on the top and text on the side note that I'll have very different looks and appearances based off with the orientation of the build, even if they're identical features.

So lastly, I want to talk about surface finishing particularly for SOA, because this is where a lot of the confusion comes in. And a lot of the trouble comes with expectations. So we talked about three different types of finishes. They could drop and select. So you have your matte.

Which tends to be our standard finish, then you have your natural, which is I'm removing the part I'm removing the support structures and doing light sanding. So this is actually soft to the touch or kind of more like a feels like a rigid plastic, but it has that satin look to it. And then we have stripping ship which is where I am just removing support structure and doing nothing else. So I'm left with more core support structures, but depending on orientation, if I have a part like this. This part.

Was actually built differently than the other parts here, whereas built vertical, so I had a much coarser portion, where I've supported this part. But because all those parts built vertical, I actually have a lot of great natural features. It's going to give me pretty good clarity from the stricken ship, but wait there's more so let's, go and keep this matte on here, and I'm going to move our natural instructor ship finishes and talk about what we can do with custom. So custom clear is requested a lot and.There are a couple ways to do a custom clears. So we call it quick clear and water clear a lot of times.

The quick clear would be growing your part doing minimal processing, and then doing to spray coats with a clear coat. And what that's going to do is actually help even out the surfaces and give you decent translucency to the part I like to think ice cube with cliff with quick clear. Now, this is a manual process, and you do pay for that manual labor to have it done is not automated.

So just understand the. Custom process depend on the complexity of the part I. You'll have extra payments due to labor and that usually doesn't scale, I'll either.

So if you need 36 of these that's going to be 36, x times someone's doing this manual labor. Now we have something that is even more laborious. But great for show models, which is the water clear. And again, this is a custom finish where you can click select custom putting your needs to this. And this is almost like polishing headlights, we're doing sanding stage-. By-Stage basically going from a lower grit to a higher and higher and higher grit getting the features and layer lines removed as much as you possibly can note that in these corners, it could be very tough for me to actually move that because I can't move sandpaper in that close.

And then I do clear coats similar to the quick clear. But just note that by me treating the surface layer lines, I'm able to get a much better clarity out of my part. So this is probably the most clear you can get with SLA. Without heavy processing, but note that the difference between these two is a lot more manual labor. So natural standard finish decent mount labor to make a quick clear, and then a lot of labor to make a water clear. So there you have it.

You have different 3d, printed surface finishes in different technologies. We went over six technologies, which I know is a lot. But I think this video is very helpful because there's so much confusion around which process does what and what's best to choose for. Your needs if you have any questions or have any suggestions for us to add more content, Asama tree, please feel free to reach out we're always happy to help and explain more about our multiple processes.

Go check it out Zomba tree to come. Thanks. So much.

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