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ABS Vapor smoothing

This last week or so was focused on getting good prints from ABS plastic. ABS is stronger than other plastics but super hard to print.. it loves to warp as it prints. So if it even holds onto the bed its no longer dimensionally accurate.

Thru a lot of trial and error I got a full set of parts made. So this weekend I was playing around with a process I’ve not tried before which is vapor polishing. If you place an ABS part into acetone vapor, it softens and melts slightly. Thus much improves surface finish as well as better bonds the layers.

I used a bucket with foil lid to do this. I put a paper towel in bottom, soaked in acetone, then I put a foil square on that to rest the part on without direct contact to soaked paper. I closed up bucket and put that on the heated bed of my printer set to 80C. The warmth gets the acetone into vapor a bit better.

All in all impressed with results.

The blue parts are pla, not smoothed.

I also printed some drill guides. It is extremely critical the parts below the wood align exactly with the parts above the wood.. so I designed and printed some templates that fit into the 2″ hole and set the drill holes from there.

So, that’s another handy thing one doesn’t necessarily think about when getting a 3d printer but sure is handy.

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