How to Detail and Strengthen Your 3D Printed Parts.




Introduction: How to Detail and Strengthen Your 3D Printed Parts.

About: My hobby is building robot. My goal is design and 3D printing all different kind of robot and provide the robotic hobbyist community with a platform that could then program and improve up on.

I have been 3D printing for 2 years now. I started out at zero knowledge about 3D printing to able to completely 3D printed humanoid robot. It took me a long way to get from oozing filament, weak first layer adhesive to a perfect print every time. When I say perfect every time doesn't mean that it is perfect all around. Depend on the final goal of the project and accessing the print base on the final goal.

I usually print mechanical parts like gears and servo housing for my project, however when my artistic mood kick in then I do design and print architecture models. Check out my Stair to Heaven, 3D printed project. Let me tell you, it is all about that sanding. Most of the time that I spend in is sanding down the parts to archive the smooth surface for painting an the final effect of an actual building.

Ask any 3D printed masters, they will tell you sanding down the parts is one of the most paint you would have. Not just for painting only, but also fitting and cleaning up. Of course, with an expensive printer or print at ultra slow for the quality, however, for all the common user or prototyper out there, time is something that we don't have. I was scrambling the thought during my sanding process.

I have been working with Circuit Specialist for couple times now. They are the most friendly and helpful company that I have been working with throughout the year. I am also very please with the high quality electronic products that they have. Knowing that I do lot of prototyping, the product manager offered me a product testing that I would then change the way I work.

Step 1: Clean Up and Detailing Model.

When you decide to sanding down your model for whatever reason, the fact is you are taking away the surface material. This could cause the weakening in the structure and also expose the internal of the part itself. CSI ThermoSculpt3D solve this problem for us.

The most popular use for 3D printing in the health care field is dental implant.The cost for a dental implant to replace a single tooth is estimated to be in the range of $3,000 to $4,500, according to The New York Times. Now with the 3D technology at its high point dental implant cost could cut down and be more affordable.

To be able to print something like a dental implant, the printer need to be set at high resolution or a high end printer to get every detail right. However 3D printer is not always perfect since their could be error during the scanning process. Throwing away hour of print and material is not the best option. The ThermoSculpt3D provided a way to clean up the model and also help the doctor get the perfect fit for the patient.

Step 2: CSI ThermoSculpt3D Is Not a Magic Wand.

My first impression about the CSI was: " it looks just like a soldering iron." and it actually is. However some nice feature:

  • The CSI has PLA and ABS temperature in the memory.
  • PLA and ABS temperature offset ( I found down later that this is very important)
  • Sleep mode when thereno motion detected.
  • Setting your own temperature for different type of material.

And like an soldering iron, practice makes perfect. It took me about 1 full day to get used to the setting, the tool, and also the movement. I would recommend printing out couple projects with lot straight edge to practice before taking on much more complicate shape.

The blue bar in the picture was printed in PLA and the green bar was ABS. The surface require a little bit to get used to. However, I would only recommend do modify on the ABS model in a well vented area. I will go over the tips and trick to get the maximum potential.

Step 3: Tips and Conclusion

I can see many potential in the CSI ThermoSculpt3D from cosplay to cleaning up high end prototype product. There will be practice needed to master the potential of the product, my tip would be:

  1. Every time when you work with a new material, make sure using a scratch piece to get used to the material reacting to the hot tip before diving to your project.
  2. Well venting area will be needed for a better work experience.
  3. Get used to the different tips to get the maximum effect for the type of project.
  4. "Spoon" tip is very good for smoothing out the surface and filling up gap.
  5. "Point" tip is great to reaching in tight corners and detailing product.
  6. "Knife" tip is perfect for removing support material.

As I am using the CSI ThermoSculpt3D and get use to it, the easier the job gets. I can eliminate part of the sanding step in my prototype processes. Also one of the potential I haven't really mentioned in the article is is strengthens your parts. By melting down the outer layer the part is now sealed completely instead of just lay on top of each other.

Step 4: Final Comparing

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    thanks for the great idea! I regularly use the hot air tool from my soldering station to clean up stringing, and some‚Äčother small imperfections, but I had never thought to use a soldering iron tip!

    Khang Nguyen
    Khang Nguyen

    Reply 3 years ago

    Able to use a hot air to smooth out the part require quite a skill there. I glad that this would make your prototype process going a lot smoother ;).

    Thank you.


    3 years ago

    where do you get the CSI thing at