Monday 4 December 2017

Christmas Advent 3D Printing 2017 Day #3 - PolySmooth & Edge

December advent calendar - modular Christmas tree
3D Printing advice #Day 3.

For the background and introduction - Day #1 Post click here

Day #2 Post (mini spool of 3D Printing filament) -  printed in Colorfabb Brassfill and Recycled ReForm rPLA filament from Formfutura

Christmas Advent 2017 Download on Thingiverse here - designed by Tom Van den Bon  With some help for each day by the South African Makers team.

The original advent calendar from 2012 is on Thingiverse - designed by from Peter Leppik.

Here we are on Day #3 of the calendar, and today the gift is designed by Andries Smuts. It's a Christmas Rubber Ducky :)

The Christmas Rubber Ducky has been dual designed to be printed in multiple (different coloured) parts, or as a single (single colour) model.

I'm thinking that Polymaker Polysmooth is the ideal material for this gift. Anyone that has a rubber ducky, will want it to be smooth and shiny, so lets make that happen -

If I had more time (and the right Polysmooth colours) I would have printed out the multi-part model in different colour Polysmooth filaments and then assembled, and smoothed as one object. That would look just about perfect. But for now, as I have a very nice Polysmooth Yellow, lets use that.

Print time was 1 Hour and 22 minutes (it's +150% Sized)
0.15mm Layers and the 0.4mm Olsson Ruby High Flow (V6 Volcano) nozzle fitted to the TAZ6. (Remember to disable contact probe levelling if you use the Ruby on the TAZ6)

A quick sanding of the tail and bobble, to remove some plastic residue.

Smoothing time (with 99.9% Alcohol) was around 55 minutes. I'm still using the Original style Nebulizer. Polymaker now have a new style design that pushes out a lot more vapour. I'll have to upgrade soon as one has worn out, this last one is about to die (they are a consumable).

This could have been smoothed for another ~5 minutes and the final layer lines would have vanished on the body. You can always put it back in the Polysher for another smoothing session. For now, this is quite good enough.

Before being polished.

After polishing.

The tree section for Day #3 is printed in a very stunning E3D EDGE filament called Krypton Green 46 (it's basically 'sparkling' shimmer-glitter? dark green, and it looks great.) It's really adding some bling to this tree.

0.4mm Olsson Ruby High Flow (V6 Volcano) nozzle fitted to the TAZ6 MOARstruder - E3D EDGE Filament - Krypton Green 46

E3D EDGE is easy to use, treat it as you would PETG or nGen. I'm sure I'll be talking more about PET/T/G type (polyethylene terephthalate) materials in the rest of this series at some point.

Printing advice -

I will focus the advice below on PolySmooth as it has a few more steps to use.

I plan to have a more complete Blog post about Polymaker Polysmooth and the Polysher machine in early 2018, for now, here are the highlights -

What settings did you use? - Go slightly lower temperature than a normal PLA, I use 200/190/185 Degrees C for PolySmooth. Almost every other setting you can use as you would PLA.

Remember if you are going to Alcohol vapour polish to use a higher number of top/bottom solid layers (I use 6 @ 0.2mm) to give a good, smooth, solid finish.

Print speed - it's good from 30-120mm/sec. Works fine in Direct drive or Bowden extruders.

Why use it? - PolySmooth is a PVB based Plastic. It's very similar to PLA when printing, but it can be smoothed using 100% Alcohol vapour - Specifically in the Polymaker Polysher machine. Other materials can be smoothed (ABS and Acetone - Not recommended), but the fact PolySmooth uses just normal Alcohol, rather than nasty solvents is a real bonus, and the reason why I like using it.

Is it strong? - Yes, the filament feels a lot like PLA. Maybe slightly more flexible and higher impact resistant. It produced very good definition prints. After polishing in Alcohol vapour the model surface is sticky (don't touch it!) You need to let it dry naturally. 
Even after it's touch dry it has not regained all it's strength. After many weeks of Polysmooth printing and polishing I realised that the models do end up hard, and stronger than the non-smoothed parts. You just need to wait or accelerate drying in a warm room etc.

Is it easy to use/print - Yes, you can use a slightly lower temperature PLA settings to start with. Polymaker Recommend using 210 to 230 Degrees C, but I would to start at 200 Degrees C and plan to bring that down to near 190 when you get skilled at using it. As usual, tune retraction distance and temperature to limit oozing. 

Above was my Temperature testing using Clear PolySmooth. I had the best results around 185 Degrees C.

Do you have to dry it before/after use? - Ideally, Yes - Keep it dry and sealed in the bag, it will take on moisture and that will affect print quality. Polysmooth is hydroscopic, it wants to take on water from the atmosphere. A 'damp' Polysmooth filament will tend to pop and crack as you extrude it out of the nozzle. You can dry it out and use it, but try very hard to keep it dry and sealed whenever it's not being used.

I'm still not totally sure if it's affected by light before use, I will ask Polymaker at some point. But for now I always keep my Polysmooth in a sealed bag with desiccant in the original Polymaker cardboard box.

Do i need a 'special' nozzle? - No, it's not abrasive, I have used it with all aidderent sizes of nozzle from 0.25 to 1.6mm - It will work fine with Stainless, Hardened steel, Copper, Ruby or Brass nozzles. Use it it as you do PLA.

Another really good and handy thing about Polysmooth is that you can print quite chunky layers, the smoothing will make 0.2mm layers 'disappear' and look like 0.0mm layers :)

Does it smell when printing? - No, No smell at all. Not even a slight sweet smell like PLA. 

Does it come on a eco friendly spool? - No, It's not marked with what plastic it's made of and it does not have a Recycle symbol :( - Vacuum sealed bag and in a very high grade 'Premium cardboard box'.

Conclusion for Polymaker Polysmooth  - It's very good material and works perfectly with the Polysher machine. It would be nice to see more suppliers make PVB materials, so we have more choice of colours and maybe some sustainable filament spools being used / less packaging and different weight spools.

In 7+ months of use, I have still not had any failures using PolySmooth, or any nozzle jams. It's a really nice and easy to use material. I'm using it a lot for all sorts of projects, concept product models and demonstration equipment.

Day #3 Completed. I think it turned out exactly as I wanted, a rubber ducky that looks like it could have been 'production made in China' :-/ At least it has another story attached to it when someone asks - 'That can't be 3D Printed! how is it so smooth?

I didn't mention before But I'm printing this entire Christmas advent tree at +150% size, so it's really rather big... I'm slightly concerned.

Join me next time for Day #4

Thanks for reading.


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