Mass finishing is being used to improve the surface finish of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) parts. Mass finishing can abrade away layer marks in a sanding
action (called “cutting”), or polish an FDM surface to a glossy luster. To achieve
cutting and polishing, employ a two-step process.

Stratasys is conducting extensive, ongoing research into mass finishing with the
goal of expanding finishing options for its customers. Because currently available
mass finishing machines were designed to process metal, Stratasys engineers are
carefully developing best practices, in conjunction with machine manufacturers, to exploit these systems for plastic. Initial results are promising. Typical parts that may benefit from mass finishing include: parts to be painted, models representing injection-molded parts, housings, vents and duct work, and master patterns.

Examining an FDM part up close, you’ll see that the outer toolpaths have a slight bulge of about 0.002 inches from the layer deposition process. Mass finishing works by smoothing material from the outside surface of the part, removing 0.0015 to 0.003 inches from the surface.

For more information, download the full best practices document here.

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