We recently covered the RigidBot on Kickstarter that’s blazing toward its stretch goals. Besides its low price, what make the RigidBot stand out are its large print volume and expandability. As such, it can deliver pretty big prints, which is useful for obvious reasons. Not as obvious, though, are the downsides to large prints. Large prints take a long time. High-quality prints also take a lot of time. So if you need a large, high-quality print, you better have plenty of time. Or you could get a 3D Refiner.
The 3D Refiner makes low-quality prints look as good as injection molded pieces. Don’t believe me? Check out the Yoda bust printed at an atrocious 0.35mm before and after going through the Refiner:
I don’t need to tell you which is which. Look at that smooth finish! Only 15 minutes in the Refiner and a 0.35mm print looks better than a 0.1mm print. For those that don’t know, 15 minutes is nothing compared to the hours it takes to print in high quality. The system works by rotating the printed object in a solvent bath while hitting it with a jet of the solvent; the jet increases the speed of refinement and the rotation ensures consistent spread, providing great results. Acetone is used for ABS prints, and Klean-Strip for PLA, both diluted with water. Both solvents can be purchased locally at hardware stores.
I should add the caveat that the 3D Refiner can only handle objects as large as 6.5” x 6.5” x 8”, which isn’t as big as what the RigidBot can output, but it’s still pretty big. I’m sure larger Refiners will come along later. In the meantime, this is a wonderful development. A lot of people are put off of 3D printing by being able to see the layers. Appearance is (often) important. Removing the visibility of the layers can take a print from prototype to finished product. With the hours of time it’ll save you, at $299, the 3D Refiner is almost a necessary investment.