Tips, techniques, and all the equipment you’ll need to polish 3D Laser Printed Titanium and give it a stunning finish.
We work with Renishaw on specialist projects and help with finishing prototypes, from their additive manufacturing departments.
They have kindly printed us a bottle opener to demonstrate general finishing on an AM component. You’ll find everything you need to know below as well as a video of what we did.
How does laser printing work?
Where to start polishing?
The finished laser printed part has a very rough surface with the remains of support structures. It will need some good surface preparation to achieve a nice and shiny mirror finish. We had 7 steps in total from start to finish.
For the purposes of this example and to give contrast we worked on a small surface with some intricate areas.
Laser printing, also known as direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), is an additive metal fabrication process built on the principles of basic 3D printing.
The process starts with a 3D computer model designed by a technician. This will then be uploaded to a computer system in separate layers and downloaded to a DMLS machine ready for printing.
A special platform dispenses titanium powder over a recoating blade building layer by layer. A powerful optic laser will then fire inside the specialised chamber, fusing the titanium powder into a solid form.
This process is very accurate and allows for intricate and durable articles to be produced.
To find out more about how laser printer works click here
General points to take into consideration before any type of polishing.
- Determine where you start, this will depend on the state of the surface.
- What speed will your mops run at?
- What is the quality of your material?
- Removal of all previous process marks.
- Try not to overload your compound. It will leave it greasy.
- Correct PPE! Make sure you have masks and eye protection! If polishing at home without extraction try going outside. Titanium in particular needs extraction.
- Consider degreasing solutions. Vienna lime or solvent removers work well.
- Do not wash your mops, you can buy mop dressers that will bring your mops back to life.
- Do not cross contaminate compounds. Keep one mop per compound.
Adequate extraction is a must!
Titanium sparks when it gets too hot. During the whole process, we only ran our micromotor at 10,000 RPM.
During the process, small clouds of dust from the removal of material will form and if a spark occurs this can ignite.
How to Polish 3D Laser Printed Titanium
What tool to use?
We love the Eneska 600 micromotor set, a very powerful smooth running rotary tool with very low vibration, high torque and variable speed.
- EneskaMicro 600 micromotor Control box
- NSK Nakanishi Motor JBM 50 HT (high torque) motor – can be used with all 4-1 handpieces.
- Motor cable
- Rapid chuck handpiece JEHR-500 (from the NSK 4-1 range)
The perfect tool for Grinding, Polishing, Deburring and Milling
Carbide Burrs – For Cutting & Grinding
We started with a carbide burr to remove prominent burrs and remnants of support structures.
We used M0311 from our 10 piece carbide burr set. A great value, premium Carbide Burr set. Various shapes on 3mm Spindle.
Round Ceramic Stones – For Intricate Areas
Round Ceramic Stones to fit into rotary tools for polishing and deburring. Useful for getting into very fine detail. Made from a composite material of ceramic fibres in a hard thermoset resin, with grit that runs all the way through, they are hard to break!
We used a 50 x 3mm round, 220g stone.
3M Trizact Spirabands – For Pre Polish
Trizact is made of identical pyramids uniformly distributed on a foam substrate, with several layers of an abrasive mineral are embedded. These abrasive particles are continuously exposed creating a constant abrasive.
We used A6 – Equivalent to 2000g
We used 3 grades of Medium Diamond Compound with the felt wheel and calico mop – 25 Micron, 10 Micron and 3 Micron
Diamond compound is used regularly for mould tool and die polishing.
It is a good idea to use Lapping Fluid with the diamond compound to lucubrate the surface which could prevent drying out and scratching.
Felt Wheels – For Final Finish
Mounted Felt wheels work as a carrier and are used with a polishing compound for fine mirror polishing. We used 25 micron and 10 Micron Diamond compound.
For best results ensure the surface is flat and smooth, the polishing process will only finish as good as the pre-polish.
Felts can be used to polishing tool steel, steel, stainless, aluminium, brass, copper, gold, silver and most others.
Mounted Abrasive Flapwheels – For Large Areas
These mounted abrasive flap wheels are a real staple for any metal finishing. They are popular for getting down inside bores, such as in engine porting. They are useful on steels as well as aluminium etc.
Available on 3mm and 6mm shanks in Aluminium Oxide, also available in Diamond, Ceramic, Trizact and Zirconia.
MX Abrasive Points – For Line Removal
Cotton fibre impregnated with aluminium oxide grain GFX points
MX Mounted points give a finer, shinier finish than conventional abrasive points with an equal grit. They have a good result on more difficult steels. They do not clog and offer a long working life.
Mounted Losefold Calico Polishing Mops – For Mirror Finish
Used for detailed polishing for all metals, the mops also work as a carrier, we used 3 Micron diamond compound.
These calico mops are very popular because they are flexible, and perfect for curved forms. The soft grade is excellent for a final finish,
Available on a 3mm and 2.35mm spindle and in a variety of diameters. Jewellers tend to use the smaller 2.35mm and Engineers use the more sturdy 3mm spindles.
We used a 40mm Soft Calico Mops on a 3mm spindle.
Finish your polishing with a solvent cleaner to remove the compound residue.
Check out our how-to video ….
Products for Polishing 3D Laser Printed Titanium
Moleroda manufactures and supplies equipment for polishing and finishing all types of materials. Here are our top picks for getting the best finish when polishing 3D Laser Printed Titanium