Smooth vs Standard Nylon 3D Printing

We introduced Polished White Strong & Flexible Nylon 3D Printing back in May 2011 and have seen your prints coming out looking much more smooth and professional feeling.  Those making twisty puzzles now assemble their designs without the need for sanding prior to assembly and those painting their 3D Prints can do so with less preparation time and effort.

One downside is the size of 3D Print that can currently be polished is limited to 150x150x150mm so not all Nylon 3D Prints can be post-processed in this way. To polish your 3D Prints we place them in a giant vibratory tumbler with an abrasive medium that smooths the surface.  The tumbling process can be a little rough on really fine 3D Printed wires so the minimum thickness for these kind of features in your design must be at least 0.9mm, over 1mm is preferred.

We do not currently offer smooth color 3D Printing but it is something we may offer in the near future.  The current dying process does not react well to polishing but if we were to introduce polished colors we may need to limit the size from the current 230x180x130mm to 150x150x150mm.  The result is there may be a few models that cannot be printed in color, but all color models would be nice and smooth, less stepping, less rough edges. 

Let us know what you think? would you like ALL of your 3D prints to one day arrive at your doorstep silky smooth, is there any other post processing you would like to see? Let us know your thoughts… 

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  1. Joaquin Baldwin

    As far as color sandstone goes, I think that if there is no polished option something like a shiny coated enamel-like wash over them could be a good option… Something that would seep into the ridges to smooth them out, and turning the object glossy.

    1. Duann

      We have looked at smoother full color but are yet to get it to be totally reliable.. We do have some interesting experiments up our sleeves…

  2. Salokannel

    Yes, bring it on! You know that we want some better eyewear, cases, jewelry, gadgets and so on! And size sounds still alright!

    1. Duann

      Great, we will see what we can do.

  3. Tom Rust

    Smoother finishes on all the colored materials would be a nice option. Some type of coating is also an acceptable option, especially if it can seal the surface & make it waterproof.

    1. Duann

      yes, we would love to offer some protective UV coating.. we will see how we can add that into the service.

  4. scientist2010

    Smooth colored prints would be great! This combinations makes “perfect products” out of prints. But please do continue rough colored prints as some fragile structures could not get dyed any more. I’m already looking forward to this new option!

  5. KoenvanTartwijk

    Smoothing all 3D printed objects would be great, if it didn’t effect the fitting. Some products I designed require a tight fit, so I don’t know if polishing is an option for that.

  6. stannum

    All items smooth BUT the wall size must be bigger and maximum size is smaller? No, thank you, add options if you want, but no steps back. Also, people have complained that current smoothing process reacts with some paints.

    Now, if it means you stop using a tumbler and change to machines with finer dust and thinner layers, that would be great.

  7. Aaron

    Yes colored smooth prints would be great!
    I don’t mind the small build area.

  8. Anonymous

    Would be great to see coloured wsf prints smoother.. so they come closer to the moulded products feel.

    The current dyeing process, is not that great, it makes the product feel ruff, also a lot of products I’ve seen painted by Shapeways weren’t cleaned properly before dyeing, therefore lose powder in colour appears to come from the models and leave white spots on the 3D printed dyed parts!

    Is it possible to add colour pigment to the wsf process so that dyeing afterwards (which is not that great) can be left away? And then it would be nice if those colour parts (smaller parts) can be polished..

  9. Marcus

    I would like colored SF prints, even with reduced size. They would be good for bracelets and other jewelry that gets handled a lot.

    As an alternative, how about a clear coat post processing option? I often spray clear acrylic on parts that will be handled a lot, so they feel smoother and stay cleaner. Would love to have that option direct from Shapeways!

  10. Plummer-Fernandez

    Hi Duann,
    Colour printing is great, even with the rough texture, but it currently stains with water. I think thats the most urgent problem, can you not spray a watertight protective coating over it? Thanks,

  11. Duann

    Awesome, I am glad most of you are excited about smooth color nylon prints.

    We will do a test on water fastness. I think this process will be better..

  12. Tom Permutt

    Frosted (ultra) detail comes with residual support material that is difficult to remove and changes the appearance so much as to make it unsuitable for my purpose. I’d like to see better removal of this substance in post-processing.

    For those who haven’t seen this, I get models that are partly transparent and sticky and partly frosted and nonsticky.

    1. Duann

      Hey Tom are you in USA or elsewhere?

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