Formlabs announced a set of finishing tools that could be very useful for anyone 3D printing.
At the company’s annual User Summit, Formlabs announced “Finishing Tools”, a set of hand tools that can be used to post process SLA 3D prints — or indeed any non-metal 3D prints.
At top you can see an image of all the parts laid out, but here’s the official list of components:
- Ergonomic Pen Sander: Creates a uniform surface finish on flat and gently curved parts
- Rotary Tool: Removes support marks and enlarges holes
- Rotary Tool Bit Kit:
- Grinding + Polishing Bits (16 pieces): Grinds and sands parts
- Buffing Bits (12 pieces): Creates a uniform finish after grinding and sanding
- Flush Cutters: Removes support tips
- Hobby Knife and Blades: Precisely removes individual support tips
- Spray Bottle: Dispenses IPA or water to remove dust, or mineral oil to polish surfaces
- Microfiber Cloth: Cleans dust from sanded or polished parts
- Large Silicone Mat (16 x 24 in): Protects work surfaces throughout the finishing process
While these may seem appropriate, and simply a collection of items one could find at any competent hardware store, there’s more to the story. Formlabs explains:
“The linear sander and rotary tool with rotary bit set are ideal for creating a buff, polished sheen on your parts. Formlabs has tested various bit sets and have found that these 16 grinding and polishing bits and 12 buffing bits are the most useful and easiest to use.”
It turns out that Formlabs has spent considerable time examining feedback from their user community to devise the contents of this kit, down to the specific options for each tool. In other words, this kit’s tools are optimized specifically for post processing 3D prints, especially those made in SLA. While these items could be acquired individually, Formlabs has already figured out the correct tools and packaged it all up for a single purchase.
That’s not to say this kit would also be invaluable for those using FFF or even SLS 3D printing processes. The nature of these tools could be extremely useful for other technologies: supports must be removed, layer lines polished, etc.
We all do those things, it’s just that we do them with whatever tool is handy. “Sure, I’ll remove that support blob with this handy screwdriver. Oops, scraped the print!”
The existence of a kit filled with all the proper tools will provide a noticeable improvement for many 3D printer operators.
Formlabs is attempting to help clients with the often ignored secret cost of 3D printing: post processing. Often this step requires more labor than the printing itself, and anything that can speed up the work will certainly be welcome.
How much? Formlabs client Matt Tetzl of Black Diamond Equipment explains his experience:
“The Formlabs Finishing Tools have been an absolute game changer for the final step in post processing here. The Finishing Tools have led to an increase in quality and productivity, reducing finishing time by up to 40%. Overall the entire kit provided a noticeable impact immediately and has continued to elevate our parts from both visual review, ease of part finishing, and versatility of printed prototypes.”
The Finishing Tools should be considered by anyone performing thermoplastic 3D printing. All you’ll need is US$299 and a work table.