How to post process and seal Z-Corp 3D prints for strength while retaining color and finish closest to the original powder print white.
Exploring parametric modeling, I designed a piece called "Metatron's Cube" that I feel takes ideal form as a powder print. It includes thin pipes, interior chambers and is very fragile, and I wanted it to either be made in ceramics or ceramic like material. Casting this in porcelain or any ceramic material would be near impossible without changing the design, and I don't have access to a ceramic 3D printer so a powder printer seemed like a great option. Once I printed it, I was very happy with the results and I wanted a method of post processing this 3d powder print that gave it strength and stability while retaining color and finish closest to the original powder print white.
Piggybacking off this "Print To Product" Instructable which describes various methods to post process your powder print, I found a product that I liked best to be Zap CA Pink (zap a gap ca, pink label).
Step 1: Why Not Any Old Superglue?
The typical protocol to seal and finish powder prints is super glue or epoxy resin. Thin super glue does a fantastic job at sealing and strengthening the prints, but I don't like how normal super glues turn the powder prints a light grey color. It also adds more shine than I would like and doesn't fully absorb, leaving clear pools in detailed areas. I asked around and Zap CA Thin was recommended by the teachers at California College of the ArtsDigital Craft program. I did some tests and was happy with the results.
I purchased Zap CA Thin at:
- Flax Art http://flaxart.com/
- The bookstore at CCA https://www.cca.edu/
- Online at Amazon (good price and only place I could find 4oz size)
For the roughly 7 x 7 x 7 inch "Metatron's Cube" print I used most of the 4oz size bottle thoroughly coating it twice.
Step 2: Clean Your Print and Get It Ready for the Sealing Process.
Thoroughly clean your powder print. Use compressed air, ceramic and / or dental tools, fine sand paper, and paint brushes to remove all powder. This is very important because anything left on the print will be permanently adhered once you start the sealing process. My print took a little over 5 hours to excavate and clean.
Step 3: Safety 1st!
Prepare for using Zap CA.
Be safe when using any kind of super glue or toxic chemicals!
Post process in a spraybooth if possible or at minimum an extremely well ventilated area. Wear your protective gear including nitrile gloves, respirator for vapors, and tight fitting goggles (this will burn your eyes). Do not wear any natural fibers such as cotton, wool, linen etc as these are highly flammable if they come in contact with any kind of superglue including Zap CA.
Step 4: Prep Your Workspace
Set up your spray booth or space to post process your print. I covered my work area in paper then placed my print on a small wood board on a hand turntable so that I would not have to touch my print while applying the glue. This seemed to be a very good method so that I only had to minimally handle the print. If you don't have access to a turntable, banding table or lazy susan etc, just use a piece of scrap board underneath your 3D print and slide it to turn your print as you are working on it.
Step 5: Apply Zap CA to 3D Print
To apply the Zap CA, put the precision tip on the ZAP CA, then very carefully drip the glue onto the print, moving across the surface while you are dripping. Use the wood below the print to turn the print as needed. Move in a pattern that makes sense to you, but do not do a scattered application and do not go over the same area twice. I moved from left to right on each face until the entire print was covered. Thoroughly covering the interior was tricky!
I suggest testing on another surface or sample first. Most 3D print shops have broken prints, ask for a sample and do a test to familiarize yourself with the technique and viscosity of the glue.
Do not touch the print while you are doing this process as the gloves will stick to the print. Allow print to dry completely before changing the orientation or moving the print. Feel free to take breaks as needed during the process.
After 24 hours, you may apply a second coat to your print but it is not necessary. I tried it out and found it didn't seem to make a difference of strength and did tend to create shine in areas when a second coat was applied; so I do not recommend the second coat.
Step 6: Share What You Learn & Make!
I'm happy with the results of Zap CA and am happy sticking with this until I find a better solution for finishing my powder prints (bio friendly would be great!).
I feel its important for me to say that I was not sponsored by Zap CA to do this Instructable, I found this to be the best brand of super glue so far for viscosity, matte/pearl finish without shine, and retaining color and finish closest to the original powder print white.
If you find products, techniques or suggestions that are your favorite to post process a z corp 3d powder print, please leave that in comments below or link to your Instructable!