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Smoothing Print Lines

Keno

Well-known member
#1
Some might know this, how to smooth out your lines on you 3D print. I tried sandpaper works depending the plastic using 300 grit or so. My goto is a scraper made by taking a large utility knife bade putting it in vice and use polished hardened steel bar to rub the edge of the blade over slightly. This forms sharp edge scraper and you can use it lightly to take off ugly lines. pulling the blade in reverse can be use of shine your work. Cheap blades seem to work better. For what its worth.
 

Turbojoe

Well-known member
#2
Because I'm getting just a very small amount more confident in TinkerCad 3D design and 3D printing I'm happy to learn ANY new aspects. Line smoothing isn't critical to anything that I print right now but it could very well be a useful piece of knowledge nonetheless. In the very little I've read on the subject I've seen some posts about using acetone in the smoothing process. I know little about this and haven't tried it in any way. Virtually all of the projects I've created have been structural and don't need to look "pretty". However, I have downloaded a few things I'd like to print and "smoothing" could be quite beneficial for the appearance of the final product. I haven't printed any of them for fear of them looking like structural parts. I'll be watching here for updates from those that know so much more than myself......

Joe
 

Merv

Well-known member
#3
I agree with @Turbojoe, I’ve heard good things about acetone. The idea, put a small amount in a jar, suspend the print above the liquid, put the lid on & allow the vapor to smooth the lines. I’ve not tried it, no idea how long it takes, I suspect different filaments will react differently.
 
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Turbojoe

Well-known member
#4
I agree with @Turbojoe, I’ve heard good things about acetone. The idea, put a small amount in a jar, suspend the print above the liquid & allow the vapor to smooth the lines. I’ve not tried it, no idea how long it takes, I suspect different filaments will react differently.
Hey, don't listen to me. I just saw something posted about this. To be honest I'm scared shi1less of the idea of creating volatile vapors with acetone. It "may" be safe. I'd rather err on the side of caution though.

Keep a fire extinguisher VERY CLOSE!

Joe
 

Keno

Well-known member
#5
Hey, don't listen to me. I just saw something posted about this. To be honest I'm scared shi1less of the idea of creating volatile vapors with acetone. It "may" be safe. I'd rather err on the side of caution though.

Keep a fire extinguisher VERY CLOSE!

Joe
This is getting interesting. I only present the idea of a scraper that one could easy make that would work. It is a tool that takes time and some carful application. But it sure works on those heavier unwanted protrusions. After I get things as I wise them I coat with a clear cover coat. This process also reduces weight, if you are into building printed planes. Don't scrape to much as you may see daylight. Enjoying the hobby to keep busy at this bad time.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#6
Acetone smoothing works great...but....only for ABS. Won't touch PLA. The only things that can smooth PLA that way are pretty nasty to work with and I generally wouldn't recommend messing with them.

Since I'm usually interested in highly precise parts smoothing doesn't generally interest me since you do get some deformation and shifting of dimensions when you smooth. But sometimes it does make sense.

Like a few years ago when I made my MIDI sequencer and wanted the buttons to look nicer:

20180313_134605.jpg


20180313_134603.jpg


They were functional...but just didn't look great.

So I printed them in ABS and broke out my smoothing setup. Just a plain metal paint can from the hardware store, a couple of paper towels and some magnets. Line the can with paper towels, add a little bit of acetone (just a few tbsp is enough, just have to soak the towels) then put it on my heated print bed for about 10 minutes:

20180315_200516.jpg


20180315_200509.jpg



Result - nice smooth buttons!

20180315_222757.jpg



I'm still not 100% happy with it though. The buttons aren't super consistent and just don't look great overall as a result. But...it works and it's nicer than the rough non-smoothed buttons.
 

Keno

Well-known member
#7
Acetone smoothing works great...but....only for ABS. Won't touch PLA. The only things that can smooth PLA that way are pretty nasty to work with and I generally wouldn't recommend messing with them.

Since I'm usually interested in highly precise parts smoothing doesn't generally interest me since you do get some deformation and shifting of dimensions when you smooth. But sometimes it does make sense.

Like a few years ago when I made my MIDI sequencer and wanted the buttons to look nicer:

View attachment 166977

View attachment 166978

They were functional...but just didn't look great.

So I printed them in ABS and broke out my smoothing setup. Just a plain metal paint can from the hardware store, a couple of paper towels and some magnets. Line the can with paper towels, add a little bit of acetone (just a few tbsp is enough, just have to soak the towels) then put it on my heated print bed for about 10 minutes:

View attachment 166981

View attachment 166980


Result - nice smooth buttons!

View attachment 166979


I'm still not 100% happy with it though. The buttons aren't super consistent and just don't look great overall as a result. But...it works and it's nicer than the rough non-smoothed buttons.
;

Thanks for the info, I'll have to give a try (ABS that is)