After finishing object 3D printing, you should choose some of the post-processing techniques. Besides aesthetics, post-processing improves object properties.
Some of the object post-processing techniques that can be easily implemented at home are:
- Support removal. This basic process is usually the first step in post-processing. Supporting materials can be soluble or insoluble. The soluble is dissolved in water or another liquid. Two of the most common materials for soluble supports are HIPS and PVA. Support parts from the main object can also be removed manually, for example, with a knife. In that way, the object can be damaged and leave marks, but that can be solved with another post-process technique.
- Sanding. FDM printing can have a rough surface, so the easiest way is to smooth it. The ideal way to remove marks after support removal is by using sandpaper with grit 600 and higher. It is important for FDM 3D printed objects to sand the parts in circular motions because of layers easy visibility. If the parts are sanded parallel, the visual appearance of the object can be ruined. This process is also a great preparation of the object before painting.
- Welding. The process of welding is used only for ABS printing of large objects. You can join parts of the object with acetone. This process is easy but also requires a calm hand. Apply acetone on one side of the object part and then attach it to the other object part. Acetone will melt ABS, and it reacts as glue.
- Gluing. Gluing is used for object printed from other materials. As welding, it is used for large objects, which must be printed from several parts and then glued. The type of glue that can be used is Cyanoacrylate or Superglue, Plumber’s Cement, Epoxy, Polyurethane, Silicone Glue, or PLA Hot Glue Gun. This process is easily used for PLA and PETG printed objects. The negative side of this post-processing technique is that the object is weak at the gluing point.
- Smoothing. Smoothing is a popular process because it is easily implemented with ABS and acetone. Acetone melts ABS, so the surface is melted, and it becomes smooth. Put the acetone in the glass container, and then place your print on a platform above the acetone. Close the glass (but do not seal tightly because of the vapor) container lid for 10-20 minutes so the vapor can melt the parts’ outer layer. PLA printed objects can be processed with chemicals like Tetrahydrofuran.
- Painting. You can paint objects with spray or brush and by using masking tape. Painting is best done in a well-ventilated area or, if possible, outdoors. Let the paint dry overnight and clean the part the next day using a tack cloth. Type of paint colors that are used are oils, enamels, lacquers, and acrylics. They all will work well with PLA and ABS. As for the acrylic and water-based paints, you need to add several layers. Before painting the object, you should first prime it.
- Polishing. This technique is used for getting the smoothest surface. You can use a microfiber cloth and liquid plastic polisher for this process. Before polishing, you must sand the object properly. Then continue with polishing by applying polisher to the object and making circular moves on the object until you are satisfied with the results.