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"Smoothing PLA" Topic

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271 hits since 4 Jul 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Oldguy04 Jul 2018 5:08 a.m. PST

I am planning on getting a printer fairly soon and am trying to get as much info as I can before that. That being said, I've seen some stuff on Youtube about using polyurethane to smooth out the layer lines on PLA. Does anyone have any experience with this that would share their experience. I would like to avoid the issues with Acetone.

Mutant Q04 Jul 2018 6:44 a.m. PST

As I recall, acetone smoothing doesn't really work on PLA like it does for ABS. You'll need to use something like Tetrohydrofuran or Dichloromethane.

Otherwise, I tend to give my finished FDM prints a coat of autobody filler/primer which de-emphasizes the striations a bit.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

I have not used it yet but bought some. XCT-3D is billed as a high performance 3D print coating to smooth 3D printed objects. Might be what you are considering.

UshCha04 Jul 2018 9:29 a.m. PST

The problem is that naysayers hate the 3D prints. The texture is a little rough but they @Forget@ how crap cast stuff is, misshaped, flash and mismatched molds. I have lots of examples of all of these as I cannot fully dump hideous metal yet. Oh and metal fails faster (chips bends and breaks).
In reality I have met few wargamers who harp on about the minor texture issue which is invisible at 2 ft to most folk.
In many cases you could smooth the surface down like you have to do with metal using a file or abrasive, but its probably less of an issue than the issues with metal stuff like bent guns etc, which are almost impossible to straighten and keep straight with use.

Vigilant04 Jul 2018 9:37 a.m. PST

As a naysayer I would say it depends more on the scale and type of model. I game mostly in 28mm and the printed models I have seen are very much inferior to the resin or plastic models available. For vehicles with slab sides such as the M113 the layers are very visible. The layers also make shading an d highlighting difficult. With smaller scales this may be less of a problem, but again the quality of the resin/plastic/metal depends on your source, most modern sculpts don't exhibit the problems UshCha complains about. For me, printed models will have to get a lot better before I mix them with my resin and plastics.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2018 7:59 a.m. PST

If you smooth with solvent vapor you will lost crisp detail. All the sharp edges go first, the layer lines fade later. With some models that may be okay, with other models it will not be.

Ditto hitting the figure with a heat gun.

A coat or two of primer will make the lines less visible, but you can still see them.

Layer height is also controllable, as is print speed. One thing I did was pick a test print and try three different print speeds and three layer heights to produce nine models for comparison purposes. Shrink you layer height and the layer lines are much less prominent – and your model takes longer to print.

I know for a fact that some miniatures companies are now printing their masters and casting a printed, not sculpted figure. They are using $2 USDk-4k resin printers, and printing a figure can take ten to twelve hours. These figures are nigh indistinguishable from sculpt figures, but this is not what we're going to be doing at home.

Home printed figures are certainly usable, and printers are even more useful for some vehicles, terrain parts, etc.

DyeHard05 Jul 2018 8:42 a.m. PST

From the olde days of making models of carved wood, we used a product called "Grain Filler": A grain filler or paste wood filler is a woodworking product that is used to achieve a smooth-textured wood finish by filling pores in the wood grain. It is used particularly on open grained woods such as oak, mahogany and walnut where building up multiple layers of standard wood finish is ineffective or impractical.

I have not yet tried it on PVA, but I would suspect it would fill the grain of a 3-D print in much the same way as it would on wood.

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