How Vapor Polishing Works

Apr 14, 2020 | 3D printing | 0 comments

Almost all 3D printed products require some kind of post-processing. Post-processing produces stronger, more durable, and more appealing results and usually requires specialized equipment. One of the most common methods of post-processing for 3D printing is vapor polishing. 

Vapor polishing (or vapor smoothing) is a process that is used to smooth plastics. After printing, many materials are very rough and have a pitted appearance, along the lines of pumice stone, or a layered one due to printing layer by layer. Even with the customizability of 3D printing, the process still leaves rough edges and occasionally support structures. This rough appearance is rarely desired and it’s necessary to polish.

Vapor polishing is one of the most effective ways to do this. The technique predates 3D printing in common use and has been used to increase transparency in plastics for a long time.  Vapor polishing works by placing the product in a specially crafted and sealed chamber. Usually the products are suspended to ensure they are polished everywhere possible. The chamber then blasts the objects inside with a chemical solvent vapor designed to interact with their surfaces and cause them to flow.

They then set and the result is a smooth surface.  There are other methods of polishing, but the great advantage of vapor polishing is that it provides total coverage even of internal surfaces. Other methods may miss these important surfaces, which can be a concern when 3D printing parts. A rough surface can cause significant performance issues.  It is also a relatively quick process and a fairly clean one, as many machines are mindful of conserving and containing solvent. It is highly cost-effective, as well. Multiple objects can be placed in the chamber at once, meaning that it is one of the quickest parts of post-processing.

At Jawstec, we are pleased to use the PostPro3D for our vapor polishing. This is an excellent, safe, and efficient piece of technology. The PostPro3D utilizes Additive Manufacturing Technologies’ own BLAST (Boundary Layer Automated Smoothing Technology) to smooth products. The results easily match that of injection molded surfaces, achieving a surface finish with an RA of less than 1 micron. 

We have successfully integrated the automated turnkey PostPro3D into our workflows. The addition of this unique technology has helped Jawstec create better products faster for our clients. PostPro3D vapor polishing and other technologies help us create manufacturing solutions for a wide variety of applications, from prototypes to drones to hobby miniatures. Contact us for a quote today!


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