Cleaning Frosted Detail Plastics

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    MicroTraxx
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    Frosted Detail Plastics. Shapeways currently has two materials .. FUD an FXD.

    (following was taken directly from the Shapeways Materials page for Frosted Detail Plastic)

    Material Info
    Frosted Ultra Detail and Frosted Extreme Detail are both made of a UV cured acrylic polymer. While both offer high resolution, Frosted Extreme Detail uses a 16 micron layer height to produce incredibly fine features, making it a great choice for miniatures, model trains, and products with very fine embossed or engraved details. Both materials are well suited for painting, and are relatively brittle, especially when features are thin. The material is heat resistant up to 80°C / 176°F degrees.

    How it is printed
    This material is printed using the Multijet Modeling (MJM) process. Molten plastic is deposited onto an aluminum build platform in layers using several nozzles, essentially like a large print that sweeps across the build layer. As the heated material jets onto the build plate, it solidifies instantly. After each layer is deposited, it is cured, or polymerized, by a wide area UV lamp. The next layer then applied, and through this repeated process layers of thermoplastic build up into a model. When printing is finished, we remove the models from the tray and put them into an oven that melts away the wax support material. Next, we put the models into an a ultrasonic oil bath to remove any remaining wax residues, and then a ultrasonic water bath to remove any oil on the model. Finally, we inspect the models and dry them by hand.

    Residues
    When you get your models from Shapeways they can be nice and clean – and sometimes you need to do additional work. To some extent this is the model shape as some are easier to clean. It may involve slight differences in the heat of the oven or the time in it or both; same thing with the oil and water ultrasonic baths. It may have something to do with how many beers the operatior had the night before. In any case, let’s talk about how to clean you model.

    There may be support wax left and an oily sheen left on the models. To save cost (FUD is $3.49 cm3) I hollow out the models when I can. During printing these hollows are filled with a wax support material. I have to add an escape hole so the wax can be removed. The time in the oven may .. or may not remove all the wax. It has to heat up and drain through a small hole (single escape hole being a minimum of 0.4 mm dia). The ultrasonic oil bath removes any wax residue (maybe).

    Various cleaning Methods: (this is just things people have tired to dissolve any remaining wax .. not necessarily what works best!)

    • Hot water: Frosted detail plastics are heatproof to 80℃ / 176℉ degrees. Higher temperatures may significantly change material properties. This means that you would need to control that water temperature to keep it below that 80℃ / 176℉ degrees while melting the wax. Interurban Models in their article on cleaning FUD says to never apply water or air hotter than 50° C / 125° F.
    • Simple Green: I have lately seen posts that this works really well. Leaving the parts in the Simple Green for 1/2 hour cleans the residue off and doesn’t affect the plastic. I was intrigued by this and did just that .. put some parts in Simple Green and left them for 1/2 hour. It WORKS!! Very nice .. so much that this goes to the top of my list of methods.
    • Dawn dishwashing soap: If the part can be cleaned using without damage by scrubbing with a toothbrush then Dawn works well. I could point out that a smaller artist’s brush could be used for small parts.
    • Alcohol hand sanitiser: This was tested by someone who reported it contained 62% ethanol and seemed to affect both the wax and plastic.
    • Isopropanol Alcohol (IPA): Interurban Models uses this
    • Penetrating oil (WD40 etc): partial success
    • Mineral/white spirit: disolves the wax but softens the plastic leading to breakage
    • Ear wax remover: ?
    • Weak NaOH solution (caustic soda/lye): Sodium Hydroxide (think oven cleaner) is used anywhere fat or oil is the issue. For cleaning around the kitchen a 10% solution is suggested. Interurban Models uses stove cleaning spray.
    • Stain remover for clothing: ?
    • Acetone free nail polish remover: ?
    • Bestine:A commercially available solvent and thinner (heptane), used primarily for thinning rubber cement and removing non-water-based inks. This is what I currently prefer to use. The downside is that it is relatively hard to get and is a chemical .. AND .. leaves a white film at times.
    • Powerfuel: (outdoor stove fuel by Primes). Wikipedia claims this is the same as Bestine above (evidently) or heptane. PowerFuel on Amazon.com says it is naphtha. A blog post says Primus PowerFuel is straight n-heptane while Coleman Fuel is a naphtha mix. On another blog I am told that both PowerFuel and Coleman Fuel are “Heptane Petroleum”
    • Goo-Gone: ?
    • De-Solve-it: ? – 100% Organic Citrus-Based. Says removes crayon, stickers, cosmetics, oil based paints, tar, tree sap, chewing gum, candle wax, grease and more.
    • Acetone: I have used this but it damaged the plastic when I left it in too long.

    Some of the kinder-gentler cleaners such as Citrus Based products or Dawn can be used without a problem .. using the stronger chemicals such as Bestine, Acetone and such you need to take sensible precautions. In any case do the cleaning in a plastic tub as small parts can fall off a sprue during the cleaning.

    In addition when I have cleaned the part in Bestine I then put it into my Ultrasonic cleaner. I figure .. why not?

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