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Shapeways Ask an Engineer #3: Polishing Strong & Flexible Plastics (VIDEO)


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Nice video, thanks for sharing your post-process;) my only question is: what about the smaller things? And the inner arches and surfaces of the objects? I guess they cannot be polished, just from the outside. Which material do you use for grinding and polishing? (what kind of ceramics and stones?) Does this process work with PLA bio-plastic as well?
#1 bonooobong (Homepage) on 2013-03-19 16:06 (Reply)
We actually have two smaller tumblers with smaller media to polish extra these objects (like jewelry). If the ceramic media cannot reach a surface, it won't be polished :-)

We haven't tried with PLA yet - this is not a material that we offer. But as I have some MakerBot prints lying around, I'll give it a try ;-)
#2 Bart on 2013-03-19 18:06 (Reply)
Great stuff, thanks for sharing. Love the separating mechanism.
#3 tamberg (Homepage) on 2013-03-21 18:04 (Reply)
A good educational video. Thanks. I also am given to understand that Makerbot's Replicator does not require washing or polishing post manufacturing. It appears the 3D Printing process is making progress across the finished product front.
#4 Paul Benjou (Homepage) on 2013-03-21 18:35 (Reply)
Cool machine, would never have guessed this was the process.

And nice names, Tarzan and Jane. At our company we have a copier called Herman.
#5 Sander on 2013-03-22 08:42 (Reply)
I'm getting 1/144 scale Biplanes from the various dealers… We are talking very tiny struts. Does this weaken the Model? I know I’ll find out in April, when my order arrives!
#6 Andy on 2013-03-22 15:31 (Reply)
How much material is taken off a model when it is polished? If I am trying to get a particular wall thickness, how much thicker do I need to design it to accommodate the loss from polishing?
#7 David Fitterman on 2013-03-23 14:56 (Reply)
Where can I get the "Made in the Future" t-shirt?
#8 brian on 2013-03-24 13:20 (Reply)
Get a job at Shapeways ;-)
#9 Bart on 2013-03-25 08:22 (Reply)
Hi David,

I checked with our engineers and the amount of material that gets taken off by the polished is really minimal: they estimate around 0.01mm. Because of the forces involved, there are some different design rules for polished materials though. You can find them on the following page:


#10 Bart on 2013-03-26 15:16 (Reply)

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