Awesome Stuff: Smooth Surfaces

from the maker-tools dept

This week, we’ve got two new crowdfunded tools for 3D creation — though only one is for 3D printing.


The PolySmooth is a 3D printer with one straightforward goal: to smooth and refine 3D printed objects, closing the quality gap with mass-produced plastic parts. At its core, it’s a standard extrusion-based 3D printer, but it includes two key innovations: a new base material specifically designed to be easily and fully polished, and a spray system that coats the objects in alcohol mist to do the polishing. The end result is extremely smooth, high-gloss surfaces that are the opposite of what you picture when you think of 3D printing. The new material is PVB-based, and designed to be basically identical to the more typical PLA polymer in all but this one critical way, so it’s compatible with other extrusion printers. The material alone has advantages, but it’s the polishing mister that works the real magic.


3D printing may be the flagship of the maker fleet, but it’s not the only technique available. The FormBox offers the ability to create vacuum-formed objects — not as useful for brand new creations, but extremely useful for making molds and copies of existing objects. It works with a wide variety of sheet thermo-plastics, and of course when making molds they then work with all sorts of materials, from resin and silicon to ice and chocolate. But the key to the whole thing is how it manages to put vacuum-forming capabilities in a desktop-sized package to begin with: by using a regular home vacuum cleaner. It hooks up to just about any vacuum using a universal connector in order to work its magic, leaving the unit itself at a reasonable cost well under $500.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Smooth Surfaces”

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Cliff says:

Vacuum Forming

Of course if you want to save $500, you can make your own with any frame, heat from a hot air gun or powerful hairdryer, and cheap plastic plates from the pound shop or lids from any yogurt pots… You can even do without the vacuum if you wear gloves to press the softened plastic over the mold, and most of the shapes shown in their vid could be done that way anyway…

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