A 3D printing accessory maker survives and expands.
In sprint of 2015, we wrote a story on a company known as Retouch3D, which launched a product to assist 3D printer operators. The product was a kind of specialized heat applicator used for refinishing 3D prints made with the extrusion process.
At the time, and today, we feel this is a needed accessory for anyone operating an extrusion 3D printer, simply because the prints inevitably have some surface problems. It’s pretty rare to obtain a completely smooth 3D printed surface because of many issues.
These include: lousy filament; moisture in the filament causing blobs; inaccurate mechanical positioning; vibration; poor print adhesion; etc. A very common surface quality issue derives from the use of same-material support structures, which must be mechanically removed. These invariably leave marks on the print where they were previously attached.
Some folks will sand off these protrusions, while others leave them be, having strategically 3D printed the object to have support marks on the bottom of the print.
But with the Retouch3D system, you can use a heated toolhead to manually smooth them over, if used very carefully. I’ve attempted to do this with soldering irons, but with catastrophic results – large holes in the print! This process must involve very mild temperatures, and that’s what the Retouch3D is designed to do.
Retouch3D is interesting not only for their product, but also for their survival. Of the hundreds of 3D print-related crowdfunding launches over the past four years, few seem to have survived. But that is not the case with Retouch3D, who recently announced they have hit a few milestones.
It seems the long delay between then and now involved a “complete product redesign”, but that is now completed. Even better, the product is available for sale to the public from their website. Priced at around USD$160, the Retouch3D kit includes the hand heat applicator and five interchangeable tips.
Many startups facing a “complete redesign” fail because their cash flow and investment did not account for that possibility. But somehow Retouch3D has made it through that gate and now proceeds forward.
It sounds like they will be attempting to sell the product through a number of 3D print resellers worldwide, which could be quite welcome, as there really are not many accessories for sale at such establishments. I’d like to see a full set of 3D printing tools for sale alongside the 3D printers themselves, and it should include Retouch3D or something like it.