Aug 21, 2015 | By Simon

Although the quality and process of 3D printing has changed dramatically over the last year alone, there has also been a rise in users who are interested in a variety of post-processing techniques for customizing the appearance of a 3D printed object or changing its material properties - such as making a print stronger.  

One of the more interesting post-processing tools we’ve seen in recent memory only just came out in early July of this year - the Copperface kit for coating plastic or resin 3D printed parts in metal from Italy-based Robot Factory.

The Copperface kit is the result of the company’s exhaustive research and development centered around producing a low-cost option for the metallization of non-conductive materials in the 3D printing space.  Although there are some users who are looking for a low-cost option for various aesthetic needs, many users are also looking for a low-cost option for protecting their 3d print surfaces from abrasion or weather conditions.  

Galvanizing - by definition - involves depositing particles by electrolysis, which creates a thin layer of metal over an object.  While the process is normally done on existing metal objects, it is also possible to apply the process to plastic materials, starting by making them conductive.

More recently, the company used their Copperface kit to help galvanizing something for a work project.  

Starting with the original print - which was washed extensively, is made from wax and measures 28 x 11 x 23 mm - the Robot Factory team sprayed the object in silver, which was chosen over graphite due to its lack of resistance, which allowed for a homogeneous process that results in a predictable constant and controlled thickness.  

In total, three layers of the silver spray were applied to the model before applying a clamp to provide electrical continuity.  In order to complete the galvanization process however, the team had to soak the part in an immersion bath for a set amount of time based on the surface area of the object.    

To assess the amount of surface area on the object, the team loaded the object’s original STL file into Netfabb and were able to take the reading - 19.5 cm2 - from there.  Once this was obtained, they were able to put the size value into a spreadsheet (which is included with the Copperface software kit) that ultimately calculated the optimal immersion time for the object based on the surface area and desired surface quality.   

“To facilitate the process, we used the magnetic stirrer so that in the galvanic bath, the heat was dissipated faster due to the movement,” explained the team.

“Once the bath reached a temperature of 24 degrees, it was possible to start the galvanic deposition by immersing the piece into the galvanic bath.”

After stirring for an hour to ensure that no bubbles would affect the surface, the team was then able to remove the finished object from the bath and rinse it in water.

While this is just one small example of what’s possible with the Copperface, one can only imagine the possible uses for other applications.



Posted in 3D Printing Company



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arsdmthe wrote at 8/23/2015 1:42:49 PM:

low cost silver spray lol

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