I’ve been seeing posts on hackaday.com over the past month or so about vapor treating ABS prints to give them a nice smooth finish. It looked fairly simple and I had most of the stuff to give it a shot so this was my attempt.
This was a print from Halloween, the base was already a little messed up so perfect to try something on.
I had checked out this site to get some details on what I should do: http://blog.reprap.org/2013/02/vapor-treating-abs-rp-parts.html.
Found me a tin coffee can since I couldn’t find a glass jar that was big enough. I saw another vapor treatment video that used a tin can so figured it should work. I have a printrbot so I turned its bed on to 110 Celsius to get it heated up then placed the tin can with acetone on top.
Once that was hot enough and vapor was starting to make its way to the top of the tin, I laid some foil down with the pumpkin print then turned the bed down to 90 Celsius.
Turn for the worst!
I left this to work on its own for like 20 minutes and realized the heater bed was outputting way higher since I have an issue with the sensor on attached to the bed. Reading from a thermometer gun said 120 Celsius. So I adjusted it back down but the base of the pumpkin started to warp.
It started to look like it was smoothing out slowly so let it keep going. Around an hour mark it started to go even worse. The whole pumpkin started to sag and droop down. I turned the heater off and removed the pumpkin to let sit out for a little while and here is how it looks now.
What happen? Well I think 2 things were the big fail on my part. Probably was running a bit hot in the beginning. Second thing was the foil base I don’t think I had made to well so it probably was transferring a lot of heat to the bottom of the object. I tried to make fluffy layers but guess that didn’t work. Next time I probably would try the cutout of the bottom of a soda can.
Aside from the drooping, part of the pumpkin did get pretty smooth. It did lose some of the sharper details around the face but nothing too bad. This seems like it would only be good for display items and not anything functional. It didn’t evenly get smooth, the pumpkin has vertical ridges and a few of the ridges are still pretty rough.
There is one thing I don’t get. After an hour or two of the model sitting out to dry, it was still pretty malleable and gel layer feel to it. Its been about 24 hours now and its back to being super hard. The site says let set for 10 minutes to help dry out but might need a bit more time in some cases.
Just to sum it up. Watch the temp and get a good base going if you try this out!