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Vapor smoothing uses a chemical polishing process to smooth and seal the surface of 3D printed plastic parts to improve the surface quality and enhance part performance.

The process treats both internal and external surfaces, making it an excellent choice for parts with complex geometries or hollow features. 

Vapor smoothing is compatible with a wide variety of thermoplastics including nylon PA12, TPU, Polypropylene and composites.

AMT PostPro Vapor Smoothing

AMT's PostPro chemical vapor smoothing technology is used for the vapor smoothing process, which uses a chemical vapor to liquefy the surface of the material. This process smooths out the peaks and valleys creating a smoother, more consistent surface. 

 

When the procedure is complete the processing chamber is heated to evaporate any remaining solvent, leaving no chemical residue on the part.

Benefits of Vapor Smoothing

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Enhanced Mechanical Properties
  • Vapor smoothing reduces surface porosity and crack initiation sites, which increases elongation at break with no loss of tensile strength.

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Improved Surface Quality

Vapor smoothing smooths and seals the surface of a part, giving it a finish that is similar to injection molding. Parts produced with Multi Jet Fusion can have the surface roughness average (Ra) reduced from 6-13μm to 1.5μm or better, depending on teh desired result. Visible print layer lines are also minimized.

vapro fuse bicycle seat (Courtesy of AMT).jpg
Dimensional Accuracy

The process has a minimimal effect on the dimensional accuracy of the part, with no more than 0.4% dimensional change. The process also does not degrade the mechanical properties of the parts.

AMT vapro smoothed TPU (Courtesy of AMT).jpg
Watertight and Airtight Surface

The surface of treated parts are completely sealed, making them impermeable to liquid and gas.

TPU-Before-and-After-PostPro-Chemical-Vapor-Smoothing (COurtesy of AMT)_edited.jpg
Preparation for Surface Treatment

Vapor smoothing can be combined with additional surface treatements to improve the end result such as dyeing, cerakote, or metal plating.

AMT Vapor smoothed prosthetic (courtesy of AMT).jpg
Reduced  Bacterial Growth

The reduced surface roughness of vapor smoothed parts reduces bacterial growth, making them suitable for use in the medical and food industries.

Material Compatibility

Vapor smoothing is compatible with most thermoplastics including Nylon PA12, Ultrasint TPU, Polypropylene, Nylon 12 glass bead, and composites such as Onyx.

TPU, TPE

Elastomers
  • Reduces surface roughness by 1000% or more.

  • Improves shore hardness, elongation-at-break and tear resistance.

  • Maximum shrinkage of 1%.

  • Sealed surface.

Nylon PA12, PP

Rigid Plastics
  • Reduces surface roughness by 800% or more.

  • Improves tensile strength, yield stress and elongation-at-break.

  • Increased functionality.

  • Sealed surface.

Glass filled, carbon filled

Composite
  • Increased durability.

  • Improved elongation at break and tensile strength.

Datasheets 

Cerakote ASTM testing on HP Nylon PA12

Tests were performed by the Cerakote Technical Training Team on parts provided by HP. The test panels were 3"x5" and 3 mm thick.

ASTM Test results on Graphite Black (H-146)
  • Cross Hatch Adhesion
    • ASTM D3359 method A:  5A
    • ASTM D3359 method B:  4B
    • ASTM D3363 scratch / gouge:  9H / 7H
 
  • ASTM D4752 - 24 hour Submersion ​
    • Water​
      • before and after mass:  + 0.03 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
    • Acetone
      • before and after mass:  + 0.07 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
    • Diesel
      • before and after mass:  + 0.07 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
 
  • ASTM D1729 - Color Deviation​
    • L/A/B Color  L: 0.4  /  A: 0.009  /  B: 0.06​
    • Deviation of mass across 16 samples:  mass 0.42 grams
  • ASTM D523 - Gloss Deviation
    • Gloss standard deviation at 60 degrees:  0.14
Test results on Stormtrooper White (H-297)
  • Cross Hatch Adhesion
    • ASTM D3359 method A:  4A
    • ASTM D3359 method B:  4B
    • ASTM D3363 scratch / gouge:  9H / 6H
 
  • ASTM D4752 - 24 hour Submersion ​
    • Water​
      • before and after mass:  + 0.02 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
    • Acetone
      • before and after mass:  + 0.11 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
    • Diesel
      • before and after mass:  + 0.02 grams​
      • visual color change: no discoloration
 
  • ASTM D1729 - Color Deviation​
    • L/A/B Color  L: 0.18  /  A: 0.03  /  B: 0.13
    • Deviation of mass across 16 samples:  mass 0.42 grams
  • ASTM D523 - Gloss Deviation
    • Gloss standard deviation at 60 degrees:  0.65
View Additional Finishing Options
Cerakote ASTM Wear and Abrasion Tests
Taber Abrasion Test (ASTM D4060)
Seven competitive finishes including Cerakote H-146 Graphite Black were tested in accordance with ASTM D4060. Each finish was tested three separate times in order to validate the test result.

In this test, Cerakote lasted nearly twice as long as the nearest competitive finish and 24 times as long as the furthest competitive finish.
Impact Resistance Test (ASTM D2794)
Impact Resistance (ASTM D2794) measures the resistance of organic coatings to the effects of rapid deformation (Impact).​

All Cerakote Elite and nearly every Cerakote H Series have an impact strength measuring 160 in-lbs., which is the maximum the impact tester can measure.
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Datasheets

To learn more about the use of chemical vapor smoothing on plastic parts, explore these whitepapers provided by AMT PostPro, HP and BASF.

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Automated Post-Processing for HP Multi Jet Fusion and Nylon PA12

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Surface enhancement of Ultrasint® TPU01 Parts by PostPro Vapor Smoothing

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PostPro Vapor Smoothing Ultrasint Polypropylene (PP) Parts 

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