Apr 19, 2016 | By Alec

It looks like Polymaker is ready to outgrow the filament business. The Shanghai-based filament specialists have just announced that they are moving into 3D printing hardware as well, in order to overcome the one obstacle that affects the entire industry: layers. In a surprise announcement, the company revealed the exciting new Polysher™, an aerosol-based cleaning unit that transforms typical 3D printed objects into high-quality, gorgeous sculptures that can easily compete with injection molded alternatives. When combined with the new PolySmooth™ PVB filament, which reacts perfectly to the Polysher’s alcohol-based aerosol, this could be the solution that turns 3D printing into a legitimate manufacturing tool.

Polymaker, of course, is known for a very diverse range of high performance 3D printable filaments. Their materials are perfect for any product designer but remain confined to the realm of prototyping, thanks to the layered results that are inherent to desktop 3D printing. After all, few 3D prints can compete with injection molding in terms of surface smoothness. “For extrusion-based 3D printing, the poor surface quality has always been a prominent disadvantage which separates 3D printed parts and parts made by conventional manufacturing methods”, company president Dr. Xiaofan Luo said. “What we want to do is to bridge this gap, bringing 3D printing to the realm of making final products, not just prototypes.”

At its heart, this Polymaker solution consists of nothing more than the new Polysher desktop machine and the purposefully designed PolySmooth PVB filament, and can be combined with just about any standard desktop 3D printer. Using the PLA-like Polysmooth filament, simply 3D print any project as usual and remove the support structures. No other cleaning is necessary. “Thanks to the simple and intuitive interface, you can set your time with the twist of a dial, sit back and let the Polysher™ work its magic. Your part will magically transform from a coarse, layered surface to a smooth and glossy print that could rival any part manufactured by mass production techniques,” its developers say.

The cleaning process takes anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, and is followed by a drying process that dissipates the alcohol mist. The Polysher also features an automatic lifting unit to let you easily take the part out. And as you can see in the clips below, the results are fantastic. As the Chinese developers reveal, the secret behind this cleaning unit is an evenly distributed aerosol of alcohol. The key component of the Polysher is a unit called the nebulizer, which consists of a thin membrane with hundreds of tiny (< 10 microns) holes attached to a piezoelectric actuator. Generated by a nebulizer, this unit sprays any object with miniscule droplets (of less than 10 microns in size) and ensures a very even coat. The alcohol eats into the outer layers of the print, eventually forming a very smooth surface. Importantly, there’s absolutely no heat involved, while the enclosed chamber makes it very safe to use.

This all sounds quite simple, but could not be achieved without PolySmooth PVB filament. This filament has excellent printing characteristics and is, its developers say, easy to use. It 3D prints at nozzle temperatures of anywhere from 190 to 210 degrees Celsius and adheres well to typical build surfaces. A heated bed is not required, but can be used. The final results even feature mechanical properties that can easily compete with PLA or ABS (at 100 percent infill), with a slightly higher tensile strength and a slightly higher impact strength.

But most importantly, it can easily be polished when exposed to common alcohols such as isopropyl alcohol or ethanol – both of which can be used in the Polysher and both are found at any pharmacy. “After a typical polishing process, the surface roughness, as characterized by the mean roughness depth or Rz, can be reduced by about 1 order of magnitude. For example from ~100 um (typical for a part printed at 0.2 mm layer height) to less than 10 um,” says material scientist Junheng Zhao. “The difference is visually striking, with the polished part exhibiting a smooth, glossy surface finish with layers no longer visible.”

Of course this exciting product marks Polymaker’s debut in the world of 3D printing hardware, and they have already teamed up with US-based product developers Pragmatic Designs, Inc. and Gyre9 to ensure a cool, sleek look. “I am thrilled to work with Polymaker to create the Polysher,” said Julia Truchsess, President of Pragmatic Designs. “Being a 3D printing enthusiast myself, I was immediately drawn to it when Polymaker presented this project to me about a year ago. This can be a game-changer and I am so glad to be part of it.” For manufacturing, the company has tapped strategic supply chain coordinator Mascon.

The Polysmooth filament is already good to go at the company’s own filament factory, while development of the Polysher is currently about 80 percent finished. “The remaining work involves small de-bugs and improvements based on prototype testing, and getting the design manufacturing-ready,” its developers say. To complete those final steps and cover the costs of the first batch of Polyshers, the company will be turning to Kickstarter on April 25. This is obviously also good news for the early adopters out there, who will be able to get their hands on a Polysher/Polysmooth kit for as little as $199 (with shipping set to start in September 2016). If you’re interested, the campaign will go live here next week.



Posted in 3D Printer Accessories



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Maria wrote at 6/16/2016 5:07:31 PM:

Filament from plastic bottles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMbT4DOi21U&feature=share would be amazing and Eco friendly!!

Bryan wrote at 4/21/2016 1:57:42 AM:

looks like a version of the acetone vapor bath i already do when i want this affect. Looks like they have a bit more control though...lol However one thing i have realized is that when you do this you loose detail to an extent. Very fine details get washed out.

Cliff Mason wrote at 4/20/2016 10:32:04 PM:

Be interested in more information

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