Introduction: Clear Surface Finish for Ember Prints

Picture of Clear Surface Finish for Ember Prints

Have you ever noticed how shiny and clear your Ember 3D prints look when they've just been printed? And how dull and cloudy they can look after they've been cleaned? Well here's a way you can restore that "just printed" look.

Step 1: Clear Sailing

Picture of Clear Sailing

The attached model of a pair of lenses looks like this while it's being printed on Ember, using Autodesk Standard Clear resin. It's still coated with uncured liquid resin, which has a smooth surface (due to surface tension) that lets you see inside and right through the printed part.

Step 2: Partly Cloudy

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But once the print is finished and you've cleaned off all the uncured resin using isopropyl alcohol, it dries off looking like this. The inside of the print is still as clear as it was while printing, but now the roughness of the outer surface scatters so much light that you can hardly see through it at all.

Step 3: The Fog Lifts

Picture of The Fog Lifts

Coating the surface with a clear liquid effectively eliminates that surface roughness, to let you see right through the print again. (Just as a dull rock can look colorful and shiny when wet.) If you don't mind an oily feel to your prints, a light coat of mineral oil will do the trick. But you can also use a clear plastic that starts out liquid and preserves its smooth surface even after it's dried. Clear nail polish works, but you have to be careful not to leave brushstrokes. Another approach is to use a spray like Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating #1303. It sprays on smoothly and dries in 15 minutes. I used that on the right side of the print above, and the improvement is crystal clear.

Comments

sgraber (author)2015-08-10

How well does the paint adhere to the part after it's dry? Will it scrape off?

rg62 (author)sgraber2015-08-10

It adheres well, since it's basically the same materialas the cured Autodesk Standard Clear resin -- acrylic. Acrylic is a relatively soft and easily scratchable plastic, so you should avoid rubbing it against anything hard and abrasive.

tomatoskins (author)2015-06-25

I never knew that just spraying a print could make it that clear. Thanks for sharing!

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