IndieGoGo Campaign The Touch-Up Promises to Smooth 3D Printing

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The Touch-Up 3D Printing

Crowdfunding Campaign to End Manual Polishing for 3D Printing

One of the less publicized aspects of 3D printing, specifically FDM, is the tedious work required after you press “print” with your MakerBot, Printrbot, Ultimaker, or any other 3D printer. Every 3D printer has a defined resolution, which is the thickness of each layer. Typical desktop 3D printers have a resolution of around 100 to 200 microns. The result looks like the image below, visible horizontal lines in the finished product.


To smooth out these lines, advanced 3D printing enthusiasts typically use a sanding technique followed by polishing. Remember, with many desktop 3D printers, the material used is ABS plastic. It is soft enough to smooth out, but requires this manual effort.

Introducing The Touch-Up

3D Customization Co. has developed a product that employs a new technique for smoothing and finishing 3D prints without the manual effort. The product is called The Touch-Up, and 3D Customization Co. has launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to raise $5,000.

We interviewed CEO Westley Harrell about The Touch-Up.

On 3D Printing: What is The Touch-Up?

Westley Harrell: The Touch-Up is a product used to smooth and polish rough edges due to the 3D Printing process. Achieve amazing results using various print layers. Imagine a finish you can see yourself in! Literally! Stop wasting time hand sanding and hand polishing your 3D printed ABS models. Let The Touch-Up do it for you! This product allows you to get professional looking models faster by letting The Touch-Up smooth your print for you while another model prints. We found that when using MakerBot’s ABS filament, we were able to get faster polishing times with a great overall consistency with each model polished. (Same filament used in our video and pictures)

I used to spend a lot of time finishing my models after they were printed to get a really clean and smooth surface. I tried different techniques from spray enamel to dipping the part in different chemicals. It took months until I figured out the best method for polishing 3D printed ABS models. That was to submerse the ABS model in Acetone vapor. From that came the idea of vapor sanding and The Touch-Up was conceived.

Anyone who uses ABS to 3D Print will find The Touch-Up a great addition to their 3D Printing Arsenal. We made it easy to use and easy to clean so anyone who 3D Prints could use it.

On 3D Printing: Why are you turning to IndieGoGo for funding?

Westley Harrell: We chose IndieGoGo because we wanted to make The Touch-Up available to anyone, anywhere. This campaign also helps provide funding for upgrades and will help us move forward with this product. Also through this 30-day campaign we will be able to identify the need for this product, and determine how much time should be invested in bringing this product forward to consumers in the future. This is just the first project we are bringing to the public. We want to identify which product is in the highest demand.

Origins of Acetone Vapor Bath in the Maker Community

While The Touch-Up is the first commercialized product to use an acetone vapor bath, the origins of this technique look to be from the Maker community. In February 2013, Austin Wilson posted on his blog about a new technique that he and his friend Neil Underwood were developing to polish 3D printed objects using acetone vapor baths.

Neil also posted his results on the RepRap blog. Neil explained his inspiration:

Treating ABS parts with acetone is almost as old as RepRap itself, but usually this has involved either dipping the part into liquid acetone, which causes white streaks in the parts, or brushing the acetone onto the part with a slurry mix, which can work very well but tends to be a messy process.

I have seen several setups out there, one by the Solidoodle Folks that involved a deep fryer, ice, tubing, and a candy thermometer, or completely passive systems that just used unheated acetone like TBuser of Makerbot did.

Unlike the other experiments, Neil and Austin heated the acetone in a closed chamber. The results were impressive.

Neil Underwood 3D Printing Acetone Vapor Bath

In March, Wired magazine published a feature about Neil and Austin and their vapor bath technique. With the additional exposure of their approach came a new caveat:

Anyone interested in trying this should take care. Wilson says points out that acetone isn’t especially dangerous, but it has to be handled carefully since the vapor can catch fire if exposed to sparks or flames.

If you like this idea and want to help fund the first commercial product to use acetone vapor baths to polish 3D printed objects, go check out The Touch-Up at IndieGoGo.

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