The company teased details of a new surface finishing technology at TCT Show in September, highlighting its potential to rival the quality of injection moulded components. In Frankfurt, sample parts printed using EOS’ PA2200 as a base material were showcased to example the differences between parts that had been coloured, finished with Polyshot Surfacing (PSS), and finished with VFS.
VFS is being introduced into Dyemansion’s Print-to-Product workflow as an alternative option to its PSS method in the second stage of the three-step process. The new process works with a safe-to-use solvent which, when removed, leaves a smooth, glossy finish, that so far, the company says hasn’t been possible with parts produced with powder bed fusion technologies.
“The driving force for our VaporFuse Surfacing is a reduced surface energy,” Dr. Alena Folger, R&D Chemist at DyeMansion, commented. “During the process, the surface is dissolved by condensed vapour. Thus, the polymer chains have a sufficiently high mobility and rearrange at the surface. The overall surface area and the surface energy is reduced. Concurrently, the part is smoothed. Upon removing the solvent, the polymer hardens again. Our VaporFuse technology allows to achieve 3D printed parts with a closed, smooth surface.”
The development of a second surface finishing technology for this post-processing workflow enables users to pick the option that best suits its application(s), choosing between a mechanical process or a chemical-based one. PSS delivers a matt glossy look with high scratch resistance, while the VFS promises smooth, high-gloss surfaces that are water repellent. Dyemansion suggests the latter of the two is ideal for printed components in medical, sports and fashion. PSS works better with hard polymers, like PA11 and PA12, while VFS suits TPUs and other soft materials. Both systems work within automated set-ups.
The new VFS unit will be delivered to a handful of customers in 2019, before commercialisation in 2020.