Sunday, 3 March 2013


The surface appearance of a Fused Filament Fabrication 3D print is determined by a number of factors.

  • Size of the print - larger prints will show more detail with a high resolution STL file
  • Height of each printed layer - at 0.1 mm and below the layers become much less visible
  • Extrusion temperature - some plastics become duller when printed hotter

After the print is completed there are some 'post-processing' techniques that can be used alter the finish.

Cosmo Wenman is making great progress with his artificially aged bronze statues and is planning to release a range of finish materials.

PLA can be smoothed with a hot air gun although there is a danger of warping the model if the temperature is allowed to get too high.

Dipping the model in an acetone bath can work well for ABS.

The newest technique was recently described by Spacexula in this YouTube video and involves placing the model in a heated chamber with a small quantity of acetone which then vaporises and coats the surfaces. The effect looked dramatic so I decided to give it a try.

Here are the results of my first two attempts.

The surface is now smooth and shiny even though it is completely dry and hard to the touch.