But now Stratasys is taking direct aim at this issue by releasing the "Smoothing Station". It's a separate unit from the actual 3D printer, and is used after the parts are produced.
According to their press release:
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 15 to 30 seconds to smooth the outer surface of the part. The part is then moved to the second chamber, which holds the part 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 simply 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.
We believe this to be a significant development, as it quite literally addresses a concern that is in the hands and eyes of every user of 3D technology. Perhaps eventually this capability will be built into every 3D printer?