Coming up with the real 3D prints is just the beginning. Whether it sells or attracts the needed attention lies on the input you put in place to attain an excellent finishing.
The invention of epoxy coating comes in time to eliminate the inefficiencies in other types of coating.
What is Epoxy Coating?
Epoxy coating refers to an insoluble surface coating that results from the use of epoxy paint. The paint is a mixture of two chemicals—a hardener and epoxy resin.
Due to its chemical properties, the resultant coating is usually solvent-resistant, durable and tough. Otherwise, the paint works well for all projects geared towards achieving a smooth and fine feel.
PLA filaments are highly used in 3D printing. To make these 3D printed objects more durable and better looking, you can use different coatings such as epoxy. Here is a quick guide on how to use epoxy resin to make PLA objects last longer.
How to Use Epoxy to Strengthen PLA Prints?
Epoxy resins are highly unfiled solid contents. They have the ability to seal porous and semi-porous PLA contents to achieve a remarkable strength.
Usually, an increase in the melting temperatures of the resin contents leads to the resultant increase of the penetrative depth. Hence, a remarkable adhesive characteristic of the coated item. To strengthen the prints:
- 3D print the PLA object as per the required design
- Cool the print, remove the overdone part and do a last-minute clean-up
- Pour an adequate amount of the liquid epoxy into a cup. You can go ahead and measure the weight to come up with the correct working weight
- Pre-warm the solution to attain a viscous fluid that is easy to work with
- Pour the resultant solution into a thick plastic bag. Then, mix thoroughly
- Place the PLA printed part into the thick plastic bag. Go ahead and cover the entire surface of the object with the viscous fluid
- Allow the PLA print to soak in the fluid for about 20-25 minutes. This duration is enough for seeping of the epoxy resin materials into the pores of the printed object.
- Pull out the printed object from the liquid and allow it to dry. Where there is a limited time, you can oven-dry the material at a temperature range of between 100-120 °F. This technique enables the material to drip off the excess solutions more quickly hence faster drying.
Best Ways to Smooth PLA Prints
Numerous types of PLA prints exist out there. Some of these prints require advanced technology to come up with while some are not so much sophisticated.
The form of smoothing method to choose relies mostly on the technological advancements used and the period employed in their make-up. The most type of smoothing used includes:
Using a heat gun to smooth 3D prints is one of the easiest methods ever. 3D prints are made of plastics. Upon exposure to high temperatures, they usually sag and melt.
However, it is worth noting that PLA prints are highly susceptible to temperatures. High or concentrated heat can result in melting of the whole object.
Using a heat gun calls for additional use of the butane torch. The torch helps in the even distribution of the heat to the object’s surface. This ensures that the heat is not concentrated on specific parts to avoid melting of the parts.
The even distribution of the heat will help every single part of the object to reach the melting temperature.
During this moment, the surface tension takes an effect to help with smoothing of the whole object and eliminating the risks of sagging.
However, before deciding on using the heat gun for the smoothing of the PLA products, it is prudent to be well versed with its precautionary measures.
Otherwise, you can end up burning some of your body parts.
Sanding is a basic requirement for manual removal of the layer line from the prints. The process is usually done prior to polishing, vacuum forming or silicone moulding.
When sanding the PLA prints, it is advisable to start with sandpapers of lower grits as you move upwards. The 80 grits sandpaper is the ideal option for roughening.
However, you will realize that the sanding process requires too much effort. In this case, it is advisable to employ the use of an electric sander.
Once you are done with the roughing process, use a sanding paper of higher grits e.g. 120 and 240 to achieve a fine and excellent surface. Once you have attained a glass-like surface, you can be free to vacuum and polish the object with a paint of your choice.
Just like in any kind of PLA printing work, make sure that you keep yourself away from harmful objects such as the resultant particles. Any eye protection gear works best. Also, to attain an even feel, do not over-sand specific places.
This can lead to the generation of heat hence resulting in melting. A wet-dry sanding paper is ideal for cooling the surface of the object for a gorgeous PLA print. Otherwise, sanding is not enough to remove all the layer lines.
Are Epoxy Coated PLA Objects Drink Safe?
Epoxy has several potential health effects. When a dusted epoxy is inhaled, the consumer can be posed to risks such as inflammation and irritation of the throat, nose and other parts of the respiration organs.
However, there are a lot more questions when it comes to whether the paint can be used on the drinking vessels such as cups and jugs or not.
However, scientists have come up with food-safe epoxy that can be used to caulk various vessels used in daily life to carry and serve food. This type of epoxy can also be used to coat PLA.
When going for epoxy resin for coating PLA products that will be in contact with some of your basic drinks, it is, therefore, necessary to ask for the food-safe paints.
This is the only option through which you can eliminate any uncertainties that result from the use of the paint over the objects.
Best Ways to Waterproof PLA Prints
PLA prints float like an ice cube when placed on water. Rather than floating ON the water, they slightly get immersed hence float IN the water.
This incident is very common with ornaments printed while bearing the thoughts of optimized print time or with standard settings. Some of the methods that you can use to waterproof your PLA prints include:
Waxing is the simplest and the most affordable solution to attaining a watertight 3D print. However, before enlisting waxing as the final solution to the problem, it is prudent to understand the parts of the 3D prints to ascertain the specific places you need to caulk. That place(s) should be the ones that get in touch with water so often.
Having deduced the places, you can go ahead and apply wax along its grain. Beeswax or paraffin is the best option. But, if you are after the colours, you can go for the crayons.
All you need is to melt the wax and apply it on the surface of the print. It should not be bulky.
Just a thin sheet over the surface is enough to do with. For even sheet, use the heat gun to melt any clumsy particles that can give the ornament a weird look.
3D printing is a technology that advances with every passing second. Other than the PLA prints, scientists have gone ahead to devise a method of using organic cells to achieve 100% waterproof prints.
But, away with that. You can apply multiple cells (layers) of molecules when designing the print to achieve an outstanding jewel that is highly waterproof. This works even with the PLA prints.
For gorgeousness, do not overdo the cells. They should be thin enough to allow for overlapping without burying the shape of the object. Secondly, ensure that the cells are uniform.
By so doing, the water-resistance nature will be evenly distributed through one corner of the print to the other.
This also helps in attaining durability by eliminating the effects of different wear and tear forces to a specific part.
The smooth XTC-3D is one product of its own that you should not miss out on the list of your 3D finishing materials. It comes in the form of two small bottles labelled A and B that contains the epoxy resin and the hardener.
The product is not only simple to use, but also safe and more efficient. BY mixing the epoxy resin and the hardener, you will achieve a hard coating that can last years without substantial damage.
The first thing that you automatically liken about this product is the fact that it works in almost all the 3D items. It is highly compatible with all SLA and SLS printed objects.
Other than the PLA, this item makes an excellent finish on objects such as plywood, powder printed parts, ABS and rigid media.
It can also be used as a coating on EPS, EPDM and urethane foam. Additionally, you can also include it in the list of workshop materials for coating cardboard, fabrics, wood, wood, plaster and paper.
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