Cleaning up 3D prints

One of our members very generously printed out some tags for our KICKSTARTER campaign so we could give them out at the NoCO Mini Maker Faire over the weekend.  His 3D printer is fast, but leaves a bunch of strings on the print.  There are a few reasons for this, but I don’t want to focus on the why the printer is printing this way, I would rather give you another technique for improving your prints.  Here is a method we’ve developed at The Gizmo Dojo for fixing prints with strings and scars:

For this method, you’ll need a heat gun.  I recommend searching ebay for the “858D” hot air gun.  It is fairly inexpensive, and has other uses besides cleaning up 3D printed parts (heat shrink, soldering, and desoldering, among others).  It allows you to set your temperature digitally, and it heats up to the temperature you set VERY quickly.  It also has an auto-shutoff feature when you put the hot air gun back in the holster.  All-in-all, a lot of features for a fairly inexpensive tool.

If you’re using PLA and you want to remove strings from 3D prints, set the temperature to 120 degrees C (ABS is around 140 degrees C).  The number may vary a bit, depending on color and brand of filament, but that’s a good starting place.  Gently wave the heat gun over the print, at a distance of about an inch, and the strings should mostly disappear.  You can clean up the part a little bit first with a knife or sandpaper if you’d like.  The scars from the knife and sandpaper will also disappear at that temperature.  If you increase the temperature to 140 degrees C, you can smooth out some of the lines that show up in between layers.

The following video shows the strings getting cleaned up.

And the next video shows the scars disappearing.  The black part really shows this well.

WARNING: this will make your part very soft and flexible.  Make sure it’s on a flat surface if it’s a flat part.

I hope this information will be useful to you, and your prints come out better than ever!  If you’re interested in helping us, please support our KICKSTARTER campaign before October 25.  Thank you!

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