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Vapor Smoothing Services

Post-processing of 3D printed parts with vapor smoothing allows parts to become watertight, stronger and smoother. This is possible without the degradation of mechanical properties. Post vapor smoothing, you can expect a surface finish extremely close to injection molding.

Fully automated surface treatment technology smoothes and seals the surface of 3D-printed polymer parts. Achieve a surface finish with an injection-molded look and feel.

The process is non-line-of-sight, so complex geometries and cavities of thermoplastic parts can be smoothed without degrading mechanical properties. Steam smoothing can create a polished, consistent finish on your 3D parts. Traditional injection molding for mass production takes parts directly from the mold with a mirror or textured finish. No post-processing is required, and the parts can be packaged and shipped to their destination after cooling. Molders use polishing techniques with brushes, felt, stones, and other tools to achieve this complete finish.

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Steam smooth 3D printed parts

3D printing is one of the best ways to get products in small batches. However, plastic 3D printing often involves an important trade-off: rough-surfaced parts. Powder bed fusion processes such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) leave a matte sugar cube-like surface finish. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) shows different layer lines. In the past, post-treatment surface finishes such as abrasive media tumbling, hand finishing, or coating have slightly improved the surface finish of 3D printed parts. Engineers may opt for other processes entirely, such as injection moldingCNC machining, or polyurethane casting.

With the introduction of chemical vapor smoothing, a technique that smoothes 3D printed surfaces and improves mechanical properties by vaporizing a solvent, 3D printed plastics are now more suitable for low-volume production than ever. Chemical vapor smoothing works with most 3D-printed polymers and elastomers.

Performance Enhancement

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Increased Mechanical Properties

Due to the removal of surface porosity, extensive testing demonstrates that vapor smoothed demonstrated no loss in Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) with an increase in Elongation at Break (EAB).

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Injection Molding-Like Surface

Using a series of predefined parameters, this process achieves for the first time a surface finish that matches injection molding techniques with an RA of less than 1 micron.

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Dimensional Accuracy

The process does not degrade the mechanical properties of the parts. After the treatment, parts exhibit no more than a 0.4%-dimensional change irrespective of the desired finish level.

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Seals Against Liquid & Gas Intake

The treatment completely seals the surface, eliminating liquid or gas intake. As a result, parts become watertight and airtight. 

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Enhances Colour

Vapor smoothing enhances the colour consistency and hue of coloured part. Additionally, parts that already have colour, such as HP MJF 580 parts, do not bleed in PostPro 3D machines.

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Reduction in Bacteria Growth

Tests have shown the reduction of bacteria growth and attachment on parts that have been chemically vapor smoothed.

Vapor Smoothing Creates a Polished Part In Seconds

Vapor Smoothing is a fast, effective way to achieve a smooth finish for your 3D Printed Objects. By using the Vapor Smoothing System, 3D printed parts can be finished to a fine smoothness without losing the detail of the original printed part.

  • Consistent, uniform results to every part that is vapor smoothed.
  • Significantly reduced processing times from hours to minutes.
  • Smoothing of parts with complex geometries and intricate angles.
  • Easy removal of small layer lines.
  • Smoothing of most FDM thermoplastics, including ABS and ASA.
  • Elimination of the use of flammable solvents like Acetone and THF.
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Send Us Some Parts and We Will Send Them Back Vapor Smoothed & Polished!

We invite you to send us some of your sample 3D printed parts and we will vapor smooth them. You will see first-hand how well the vapor polishing process works. Simplify your 3D print post processing!

Get Free Quote
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Benefits of Vapor Smoothing 3D Printing

Vapor-smoothed parts improve the appearance and rival an injection-molded surface finish. The surface roughness of standard SLS parts is typically greater than 250uin Ra, but can be improved to below 125uin Ra and as low as 40uin Ra by chemical vapor polishing. Chemical vapor smoothing can improve material surface by 800%-1000%. It is important to note that chemical vapor smoothing redistributes the surface material to provide a sealed, smooth surface but does not produce a polished surface. There will still be visible surface topology and minimal layer lines.

Chemical vapor smoothing can significantly improve the viability of 3D printing in food processing, medical devices, and consumer products and is recommended for end-use applications in these industries.

Get an online quote and design analysis today.