3D Printering: Print Smoothing Tests with UV Resin

Smoothing the layer lines out of filament-based 3D prints is a common desire, and there are various methods for doing it. Besides good old sanding, another method is to apply a liquid coating of some kind that fills in irregularities and creates a smooth surface. There’s even a product specifically for this purpose: XTC-3D by Smooth-on. However, I happened to have access to the syrup-thick UV resin from an SLA printer and it occurred to me to see whether I could smooth a 3D print by brushing the resin on, then curing it. I didn’t see any reason it shouldn’t work, and it might even bring its own advantages. Filament printers and resin-based printers don’t normally have anything to do with one another, but since I had access to both I decided to cross the streams a little.

The UV-curable resin I tested is Clear Standard resin from a Formlabs printer. Other UV resins should work similarly from what I understand, but I haven’t tested them.

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Coating technique makes glass you can’t see

Some of the deep thinkers over at MIT have come up with an interesting hack for ordinary glass. If you coat it in a special way it becomes nearly invisible. This is only one of the effects of the coating, but brings images of people walking through glass walls to our minds.

Joking aside, this is really very useful. The images above show a microscopic view of the cones that are applied during the coating process. They prevent the surface tension on a drop of water from being broken, and you can see the clip of water actually bouncing right off the glass in the video after the break. This also means it acts as a non-stick coating for dirt, grime, and even fog. Anyone who’s taken a tropical vacation will know that taking a picture outside with a camera that’s been in an air-conditioned room results only in a snapshot of a foggy lens. This coating could change that. But it’s also got a lot of potential with the glass panes covering solar cells. If they can’t get dirty, and there’s virtually no glare, you should see a performance boost. It’ll be interesting to see how long this takes to come to market and what the first products to use it might be.

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