3D Printing Waterproof Parts

3D Printing Waterproof Parts

Arun Chapman

The number of applications for 3D printers is endless even though they can sometimes be hindered by reality. When printing parts which require holding water, they may often leak. There are still ways to prevent that from happening.

Waterproofing watertight parts

It is possible to waterproof these parts despite the fact that it is not always that easy. In order to achieve the best possible result, one needs to be very careful about the material and the settings. Still, the parts may require some post-processing in order for them to be waterproof. When something is waterproof, it is expected that it is capable of pushing water out. The term water-resistant is also used when something keeps water out up to a limit. The parts that keep water in are watertight. Here, the word “waterproof” is used as an umbrella term for all of these terms.

There are certain stages that need to be followed in order to make something watertight and water-resistant even though not all parts require the same criteria. All in all, it would be wise to not rely on a printed part to protect sensitive material.

How waterproof parts are printed

There are three essential points in order to achieve waterproof parts which are: the material used, your slicer settings, and post-processing. Waterproof parts can be printed in a range of different 3D printing technologies. Many expensive industrial 3D printers have the ability to create highly reliable waterproof parts using metal. The majority of people cannot access these printers. In this case, it would be best to concentrate on the ones which are common, such as FFF printing. 

Materials used

A good deal of FFF filaments consists of thermoplastics. Plastic is a reliable element when it comes to producing waterproof objects such as water bottles. Another advantage of plastic at this point is that water does not damage it. Before starting to print waterproof parts, it is essential to know that there are still different kinds of thermoplastics which have a variety of characteristics.

Swelling

Several materials used in 3D printing are hygroscopic; they absorb water. PETG, Nylon and PLA are not as good as others while ABS and PP are better than most. However, most of these materials absorb water up to a point. When a part is exposed to water for long, some swelling occurs. Despite the fact that this swelling might be small, there is still deformity on the part and it may even start to break which means that it is no longer waterproof or watertight. This swelling stops after some time. One may think of drying this swollen part, but this may cause more damage to occur.

Slicer settings

The working principle of FFF printers is that they stack the materials layer by layer. However, there is always the possibility of a small gap occurring between every layer. In order to prevent this from happening, there are some settings that should be followed.

Wall line count

Wall line count is self-explanatory in that it is the number of layers there are in the outer wall of the print. Basically, the principle is that the more layers there are the more waterproof it is as there is less possibility for the water to pass through the walls. If, by chance, there is a tiny gap, the other walls will protect it.

Normally, 3 is a good number for wall line. It is important to know that when there are more wall lines, it does not protect the part. A single wall may be sufficient at times, namely when you use vase mode.

Vase mode

Vase mode is also referred to as spiralise outer contour, which is a setting that is capable of printing objects with single wall line. There is one continuous print part, meaning there are no retractions and no Z seam, which is the most important advantage of vase mode. Z seam is the most common areas where a gap occurs. When Z seam is removed, a single-wall part becomes waterproof. Still, the parts that require certain geometry are not suitable for this setting. Vase mode is best suitable for vases, cups, bowls etc.

Temperature

When two layers are not bonded appropriately, gaps occur. In order to increase layer adhesion, the printing temperature must also be increased. Depending on the material, the highest possible temperature should be set to print at. If the temperature is too hot for the material, it may boil which leads to more gaps.

Flow rate

The most common reason that there are gaps in a part is under-extrusion. Prioritising high dimensional accuracy, structural strength or visual fidelity may cause to under-extrusion even in well-tuned print profiles. Increasing flow rate slightly might be enough for development. Starting with %105 and increasing until you see a reaction might be sufficient.

Post-processing parts to make them waterproof

Apply a waterproof coating

Waterproofing spray, a clear coat, water-resistant paint can cover up the gaps in a printed part, which is the easiest method.

Vapor smoothing

A chemical is used to melt the surface, which smooths the part and removes the layer lines. This method makes the part look more appealing and makes the part more waterproof by filling gaps.

Temperature treatment

There are two ways and two purposes of temperature treatment. It is used to apply heat to the outside of a print which causes the surface to melt in a way to fuse the layers together. This is very similar to vapour smoothing. The other way is to heat soak the part in a period of time, which is called annealing. This causes the layers to bong together more strongly.

What are the applications for waterproof parts?

Scientific research

Scientific research on fluid dynamics and microfluidics are a great area for 3D printed parts.

Gardening

Plant pots, composting containers, and hydroponics are some of the areas suitable for 3D printing. It is important to use materials that are suitable for the climate.

Plant pots, composting containers, and hydroponics are some of the areas suitable for 3D printing. It is important to use materials that are suitable for the climate.

Water features

3D printed water features can be perfect for a pond or a fish tank.

Advanced Engineering Exhibition

Advanced Engineering Exhibition

Advanced Engineering Exhibition

Advanced Engineering Exhibition 2019 in Birmingham

The Advanced Engineering UK Show is UK’s largest annual exhibition about engineering technology, innovation and supply chain solutions. Last year was the first time and it has been a full success. Thanks to every potential partner that we have met and greetings from our HQ in Nottingham. As the team of PLG Global we are proud to be part of such an amazing event-series. Furthermore, we are looking forward to next years’ exhibition and cannot wait to present our newest HP, Carbon and Zortrax 3D prints.

Advanced Engineering Exhibition
The Advanced Engineering UK Show 2019
PLG Global on the Link to The Future, are you with us? Contact us, or join our newsletter for information about the next exhibition or any other event. This time, only our leading team member Cem Severcan was proudly representing our partner’s 3D printing services HP, Carbon & Zortrax. Therefore, we are looking forward to see you in 2020’s in October, then with the whole team! The new year is bringing new plans and goals. Stay up to date and join the Link to the future!

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Advanced Engineering Exhibition
Cem Severcan representing PLG Global and our partners HP, Carbon and Zortrax
Advanced Engineering Exhibition
Advanced Engineering Exhibition
3D printing is revolutionizing UK’s technology. Benefit from the increasing efficiency and start manufacturing locally!
Advanced Engineering Exhibition
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Surface Modelling and Solid Modelling

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What is Solid Modelling?

Surface Modelling and Solid Modelling are increasingly important with the rise of digital local manufacturing.

In detail, Solid Modelling is the advanced version of 3D geometrical design. It is the solid projection of parts, transformed into 3D shape by the help of 2D drawings. The capabilities of solid modelling are limited. Normally, a typical geometrical model consists of a wire boundaries. This wire boundaries may be 2D or 3D. When the designer/operator transforms these wires into the surface, it become visible on the screen as a part. Solid modelling represents real physical parameters such as volume and size. Furthermore, it is a necessity in order to produce on a medium scale. Sometimes, Solid modelling is parametric and if it is, the revision on the data can be done by our experts afterwards. If you need our advices, please contact us or our predecessor Poligon Mühendislik via the main page

What is Surface Modelling?

Surface modelling is used by industrial designer and for visual requirements. From the point of manufacturability, surface design can be seen as a primitive sketch. Curves and flat surfaces mostly used in this method while designing. In order to control the curves, mathematical curves and equations can be used such as B-Spline and Beizer. Surface modelling is very popular in consumer goods, marine, automotive and aircraft sheet metal industries. The major difference between solid modelling and surface modelling is that it is not possible to cut the model into pieces in the surface modelling. This makes it vulnerable in the assembly needed operations. See our participation in real-life applications on our industries section.

The 7 Advantages of using Solid Modelling

  1. More lighter data to work on
  2. Revisions way much more easier
  3. Modifications can be done faster on the data
  4. You can see your design as a manufactured product
  5. It is possible to assemble the data with other products
  6. Requires much more lower computer hardware specifications
  7. Interchange between platforms such as Solidworks to CATIA is easier

Contact our experienced engineers for surface modelling and solid modelling.