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Smoothing station produces stepless FDM.

A surface improvement process for parts made by fused deposition modelling has been introduced by Stratsys. The Smoothing Station improves the surface finish of ABS-based thermoplastic parts made by FDM to achieve a finish "equal to an injection moulded part".


The semi-automated process provides a surface finish of 32 to 63 microns. Without it, FDM parts needed to have this level of smoothness must be manually filled, sanded, and painted. A Stratasys FDM additive fabrication system with the new Smoothing Station can produce injection moulded-quality parts in a few minutes, saving hours of labour says Stratasys.

The Smoothing Station consists of two interior chambers that together are approximately the size of a small chest freezer. The first chamber treats the thermoplastic part for 1S to 30 seconds to smooth its outer surface. The part is then moved to the second chamber, which holds it while it cures from the initial process. After just 30-45 minutes, parts can be touched, with parts fully cured in 12-18 hours or less.

There is virtually no preparation required with the smoothing process. Users remove support material and place the cleaned and dried part into the chamber. Parts typically are finished in one to three exposures, depending on the smoothness desired.

The system is engineered to work with Stratasys ABS-based thermoplastics only, including ABS, ABSi, ABSplus ABS M30 and ABS-M30i.

To further improve the part's surface finish, Stratasys offers a soda-blast station, called the Burnishing Station, which can be used in conjunction with the Smoothing Station. The station gives parts a satin or matte finish, blends any small blemishes, and improves overall part aesthetics.
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Title Annotation:prototyping
Publication:British Plastics & Rubber
Date:Feb 1, 2009
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