Layer Line Removal Putty Reviewed

[Teaching Tech] is not alone in hating layer lines in 3D prints and also hates sanding. He recently tried Incredafill putty, a UV-curable putty that you can use to cover up lines in prints. Once covered and cured, you sand the putty smooth. You can see what he thought of the product in the video below.

As many people suggested in the video comments, you can pull the same trick with UV resin thickened with some other substance. We’ve even covered using diluted resin to get a similar effect. The putty has more of the appearance of hair cream or some kind of ointment, so it was easy to spread around with a gloved finger. A brush also worked. UV curing was done by a small flashlight or the handy sun. However, you’ll see later that he used a UV curing station and that works well if you have one.

Of course, even after applying the putty, you still have to sand. We are assuming the sanding is easier than trying to sand the actual layer lines smooth. On the other hand, the resin dust is probably pretty toxic, so there is a trade-off involved.

The results did look good. Of course, since there was still sanding involved, how good it looks will depend on your sanding tools, your technique, and — perhaps most importantly — your patience. Sanding can do a lot for 3D prints. We might not trust it completely with resin dust, but you could get rid of at least some of the dust with a downdraft table.

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Smoothing Out Foam Parts With Lots Of Gesso

Whether you’re building a product mock-up or a lightweight enclosure, carving your parts out of hard foam is a fast way to get the job done. Unfortunately, the end result can have a bit of a rough finish; a problem if you’re looking to attract investors or get some nice shots so you can send your handiwork into Hackaday.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to make a carved piece of foam look like it isn’t a carved piece of foam, this tip from prolific maker [Eric Strebel] could really come in handy. Rather than using some spray-on primer or epoxy coating, things that can be difficult to work with when you’re confined to a small home workspace, he recommends sealing it up with several coats of gesso.

The gesso fills in the tiny voids in the foam’s surface.

For the less artistically inclined in the audience, gesso is essentially a paint that’s been combined with chalk or gypsum to make it thicker. Gesso is generally used to prepare an absorbent surface (such as wood or canvas) before applying paint. In this case, [Eric] is using it to build up the surface of the foam and seal up all the open pores.

The downside is that the gesso requires several coats to really build up. [Eric] puts six coats on in this demonstration before he starts to thin it out a bit with water. At that point, each successive coat is sanded with increasingly higher grits. After nine coats, he does his finish sanding with 600 grit paper, and the results look fantastic.

To add some color [Eric] dyed the piece and then used a toothbrush to flick on some black and white paint, creating a very convincing granite-like finish. Unfortunately, his attempt to brush on a water-based sealer caused this finish to run, and he had to take it all off. In the end, he had to resort to using spray paint to finish the piece, but at least it was a simple rattle can.

This isn’t the first time [Eric] has experimented with alternative priming techniques. He’s a big fan of two-component primer in a can, which lets you lay down a professional finish without the expense and complication of using a spray gun.

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How To Get Good With Wood

It’s perhaps unsurprising that we don’t see much in the way of woodworking here at Hackaday; after all, this is a plastics and metal community if there ever was one. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never come across a situation where a dead tree needs to be cut or shaped to your will, so we appreciate [Eric Strebel] demonstrating some tips and best practices for working with this exceptionally versatile building material.

The first video assumes you’re a lumber neophyte, and goes over topics such as the different species of wood you’re likely to find at the hobby shop, proper sanding technique, and the differences between cutting with and against the grain. Some of the different cutting tools you can use are also covered, ranging from the humble hobby knife to the band saw. As always, [Eric] sprinkles the video with tips and tricks gained from his considerable professional experience, such as using some glue and a bit of sawdust to fill in any gaps left behind by an uneven joint.

In the second video, things start getting more advanced. [Eric] demonstrates how you can create custom laminates, and how wood can be permanently bent into arbitrary shapes with sufficient steam and clamping pressure. By combining these new techniques with the basic concepts covered in the first video, surprisingly complex shapes can be formed with minimal effort.

[Eric] previously put together a similar series of videos on working with acrylic, a material that’s arguably far more familiar to the Hackaday readership. But whatever material you use, the takeaway message from this series is clear: get the right tools, learn the techniques, and professional results are well within your reach.

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Give 3D Printed Plastic A Well-Worn Metal Look

Affordable 3D printers let us turn ideas into physical reality without a big expensive workshop, but with their power came some disadvantages. The nature of FDM printers impart layer lines and nozzle ridges in the parts they produce. They can be minimized with optimized print settings, but never eliminated. [Emily Velasco] loves the power of 3D printing but not how the parts look. So she put in the effort to make 3D-printed plastic look like distressed metal and showed us how she did it. (Video also embedded after the break.)

This video is a follow-up to her Pet Eye project in response to feedback on Twitter. She had mentioned that the  salvaged metal box for Pet Eye wasn’t quite big enough to hold everything, so she had to extend its internal volume with a 3D print box on the back. It fit in so well that the offhand comment surprised many people who wanted to know more about how it was done. So she designed a demonstration cube covered with mechanical characteristics, and gave us this walkthrough of its transformation.

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Downdraft Device Dismisses Dust

Woodworking is messy business, especially the sanding part. But even if you don’t care what happens to your shop floor, you don’t want dead tree particulate matter in your lungs. Wearing a mask or even a respirator is a good start, but a dust collection system is better. Someday, [XYZ Create] might have a shop-wide sawdust-slurper installed. In the meantime, he made a downdraft table out of scrap plywood and a plastic storage box.

The only thing he didn’t already have on hand was a port that matched his shop vacuum. We like his workaround to avoid drilling a huge hole in plastic that would certainly crack — use a hose clamp to get the OD of the port, heat up the clamp on a hot plate, and let it melt a hole into the box. Hopefully, he at least opened a window. [XYZ Create] glued four pieces of scrap plywood together for the top, and drilled all 117 holes by hand. Who needs pegboard?

Not fancy or big enough for your needs? Here’s one with a built-in filtration system.

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Forget The Kiln, These Tiles Were Made On A Prusa

Where does your mind go when you think of 3D printed parts? Running off hard to find replacement components? Maybe spinning up a bespoke electronics enclosure? Occasionally the little boat that you can compare to the little boats of others online? All reasonable enough answers. But thanks to the work of [Matthew Wentworth], you might have a new mental image to associate with the smell of melting PLA: decorative Portuguese Azulejo tiles.

As difficult as it might be to believe, the tiles you’re seeing here weren’t made on some exotic ceramic printer, but a standard Prusa i3 MK3. Well, at least they started on the 3D printer. As you might have guessed, there’s a bit more involved than that.

That said, the idea is actually quite simple. The printed “tile” is just the base plate, plus the raised elements that will eventually be seen on the surface. Everything else is just a void, which naturally saves a lot on printing time and material. Once the print is done, premixed spackling paste is pushed into all of the open areas and the top is made as smooth as possible with a putty knife. The filled tile is then left to dry for 24 hours or so.

Once it’s dried, you take the tile outside and sand the top down with a palm sander (or by hand, if you have the patience). This not only smooths out the spackle, but eventually will expose and then smooth the top parts of the print. Once everything is nice and silky, it gets sprayed with a semi-gloss clear coat to both protect it and give it that authentic looking shine.

[Matthew] actually created his designs based on images of real Azulejo tiles he found online, but really any sort of image that has raised elements like this could be made to work. If anyone out there decorates their home with 3D printed Jolly Wrencher tiles, you know where to send the pictures. Interestingly, these aren’t the first tiles we’ve seen made out of plastic, but we’ve got to admit these ones would look quite a bit more appealing on your kitchen walls.

True Transparent Parts From A Desktop 3D Printer

We’re no strangers to seeing translucent 3D printed parts: if you print in a clear filament with thin enough walls you can sorta see through the resulting parts. It’s not perfect, but if you’re trying to make a lamp shade or decorative object, it’s good enough. You certainly couldn’t print anything practical like viewing windows or lenses, leaving “clear” 3D printing as more of a novelty than a practical process.

But after months of refining his process, [Tomer Glick] has finally put together his guide for creating transparent prints on a standard desktop FDM machine. It doesn’t even require any special filament, he says it will work on PLA, ABS, or PETG, though for the purposes of this demonstration he’s using the new Prusament ABS. The process requires some specific print settings and some post processing, but the results he’s achieved are well worth jumping though a few hoops.

According to [Tomer] the secret is in the print settings. Essentially, you want the printer to push the layers together far closer than normal, in combination with using a high hotend temperature and 100% infill. The end result (hopefully) is the plastic being laid down by the printer is completely fused with the preceding one, making a print that is more of a literal solid object than we’re used to seeing with FDM printing. In fact, you could argue these settings generate internal structures that are nearly the polar opposite of what you’d see on a normal print.

The downside with these unusual print settings is that the outside of the print is exceptionally rough and ugly (as you might expect when forcing as much plastic together as possible). To expose the clear internals, you’ll need to knock the outsides down with some fairly intense sanding. [Tomer] says he starts with 600 and works his way up to 4000, and even mentions that when you get up to the real high grits you might as well use a piece of cardboard to sand the print because that’s about how rough the sandpaper would be anyway.

[Tomer] goes on to demonstrate a printed laser lens, and even shows how you can recreate the effect of laser-engraved acrylic by intentionally putting voids inside the print in whatever shape you like. It’s a really awesome effect and honestly something we would never have believed came off a standard desktop 3D printer.

In the past we’ve seen specialized filament deliver some fairly translucent parts, but those results still weren’t as good as what [Tomer] is getting with standard filament. We’re very interested in seeing more of this process, and are excited to see what kind of applications hackers can come up with.

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